1. Email list – email marketing is still one of the best ways to get your message out there and it is still free. You don’t need a website to do this put a guestbook at the front of your restaurant or near the checkout and encourage your customers to fill in their details. The bonus is this is also a great way to collect testimonials that you can use later either on your website or on printed marketing material.
2. Design an A4 flyer with your story on it and an offer that cannot be refused to get people in the first time, this way they will experience what you have to offer and if you go out of your way to astonish them they will come back plus recommend you. Hand deliver these yourself so you know they have be received by your potential customers. Check out Steve Chandlers 9 Lies That Are Holding Your Business Back…: …and the TRUTH That Will Set It Free on how to write a really good flyer.
3. Youtube Videos – anyone can make a simple video these days for youtube. You could make short 2 minute videos showcasing everything from local ingredients to interviews with suppliers, even short cooking shows. Whenever you upload a new one you could send out a link to your email list.
4. Free Events – you could stage free events for people on your email list i.e “Choose a menu item night” this could consist of a sample menu at the end of which everyone casts their vote for their favorite item and the winner becomes a new item on the menu. This is a great way to engage your customers and make them feel apart of your success. They will tell more people about you and even bring more people in to dine. Everyone loves to feel apart of something, to feel like an insider.
5. Instagram – use Instagram to showcase your specials or “dish of the day” or a deal like buy 1 main and get 1 free. The trick is to not overuse this or use the same deal over and over as people will switch off. Remember customer don’t like it when you seem desperate for business it turns people away subtly. They maybe thinking these guys always have a deal so no rush we can come anytime. But used sparingly this will work really well and make customers feel like they got a deal.