Budget Marketing For Restaurants During The Recession

Budget marketing tips for restaurants to help survive the economic downturn


Sam Trainor-Buckingham

So it feels like we’re starting to head out of the recession, cross fingers the recent optimism is for a reason and here at Ignite we’re definitely witnessing a changing landscape.

The hospitality sector has suffered more than other industries during the recession and we’ve certainly seen a shift to the ‘Age of Thrift’.

When it comes to investing in promoting your business, good marketing should always return handsomely, so it’s important to not shy away from investing in quality campaigns. That said, there are ways to promote your business at low cost, which will also aid in supporting bigger campaigns.

Here’s a few quick fire tips for marketing your business on a shoestring…

  1. Make use of your staff. Choose the right members of your team to get out there, spread the word and hand out marketing collateral. No one knows your business better, and no one will be able sell you better
  2. Design an in-brand discount voucher for use within a restricted time period. These can be distributed by your staff during low trade periods. Here’s one we designed for Olive & Earth in Battersea:Restaurant Marketing Voucher for Olive & Earth
  3. Give out free samples. Nothing entices customers more than the taste of fine food. If you’re confident in your product – get it out there, into people’s mouths, and watch them follow you back to your restaurant.
  4. Give each of your staff 20 discount cards to hand out to their friends.
  5. Provide a voucher with customer bills to get a free drink off their next visit. This can be stamped to ensure a quick return and limited to weekdays.
  6. Run a competition in a local, regional or national paper. Give away one good prize – a meal for four, or a free weekend break, with smaller runners up prizes and receive virtually free press coverage.
  7. Run a PR stunt, such as the worlds largest pizza or a taco eating competition to drum up some press attention.
  8. Collect customer data. On the whole, customers don’t like giving their data away – so it’s important to offer them something in return. Run a competition offering a prize – such as a case of wine – in exchange for their email address. When you have a healthy database, the return on investment from sending email newsletters is virtually guaranteed. Ignite recently sent out an email newsletter for YumYum Thai Restaurant that resulted in a 1000% return on investment.
  9. Post any offers you are running on discount websites. Some examples include:

It’s not rocket science, but it works. If anyone out there has done something that works well, post them below – we’ll publish the best here.


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