Whereas national restaurant chains are able to run large budget marketing and advertising campaigns, most local restaurants are not able to spend as much in their campaign efforts.
But there are other ways that local restaurants can engage in cost-effective marketing.
Most notably, social networking provides an inexpensive and effective way to advertise a restaurant.
MySpace is by far the best place to get started because it provides a good outlet for small to mid-sized businesses. It also allows frequenters of your business and potential customers to become much more interactive with your site.
More times than not, this would be more beneficial than a blog. With blogs, it's hard to expand much on one or two specific topics and still get the optimal amount of response and activity from readers as a profile page would.
Even though it is not recommended to solely use a blog as part of your restaurant social networking, it could be beneficial to use the basic one provided through MySpace.
What to Promote
You could feature an aspect of your establishment each week, such as inside the kitchen and basic cooking tips with the chef, a greeting from one of the hostesses along with her favorite appetizers, drink recipes from the bartender, and so on.
People will feel they are getting to know everyone who works there personally, and also find out more about their favorite foods and beverages. This makes for a more intimate and welcoming atmosphere when they visit the restaurant.
What unique selling points does your establishment have? Best desserts in town? Biggest selection of burgers? Biggest selection of beer served in the entire area?
Make sure at some point in your page, your key points of differentiation are advertised and celebrated.
You might hold a contest where people message you their votes for favorite burger. Or hold a contest for readers to submit their own ideas for a burger or dessert to be served in your restaurant. Making it fun for them to get involved will put your site in a favorable light, and possibly get people talking to also go check it out!
Get people to log in by including your personal website to your profile page on brochures, take-out menus, or even business cards that you can include with the bill. Or, it may take some time, but a short, handwritten note that says they may be enjoy checking out your website for more information will spark interest. Because you took the extra time to do this, they may be curious to find out why you made a big deal about it and log on.
In addition, visit other local restaurants or businesses that are on MySpace to befriend them and comment on their page. Someone who doesn't know about your site yet may become aware of you by seeing your comments on another page, so post away!
Also, are there websites for your community that you live in? For example, many cities have web sites dedicated to certain areas of the city, what tourists should check out, dining and entertainment they offer, etc. If this is the case in your area, contact the website creator and have them include a link to your site on the page.