The Importance of Local Marketing for Restaurants

One study found that people, on average, are willing to drive about 3.3 miles to eat at a full-service restaurant. We know the importance of appealing to the local community, but it’s more than important; it’s vital. 

I’m convinced that’s why Cheers has such a good run—a TV series about a locally owned pub where the locals met up, and everyone knew their name. Many of your guests will attest to the fact that there’s nothing better than walking into your favorite local restaurant and being greeted like a friend.

And statistics back that up. A study conducted by Harvard Business School found that customers with an emotional connection to the restaurant become 27% more valuable

Where are the Locally Owned and Operated Restaurants? looked at cities across the nation and came up with the 10 that had the most local independent restaurants. You may be surprised. 

San Francisco, CA, came in number one with over 94% of the restaurants independently owned. You’ll find over 10 non-chain restaurants per square mile in the Golden City. 

Across the country, Bridgeport, CT, came in third with 92.5% of independent restaurants and over seven non-chain restaurants per square mile.

How Can I Promote my Restaurant Locally?

Did you know that an incredible 94% of restaurant diners decide where they’re going out to eat based on online reviews? About 33% of diners won’t eat in restaurants with less than 4-stars on review sites like Yelp, Google, and TripAdvisor. Google is still the top review site, with over 63% of customers checking Google reviews first. 

Make sure you have a presence on these sites as well as Open Table, Zagat, and Zomato. These are great free marketing tools, as long as your reviews depict the great food and service you provide. Of course, you can’t please everyone all the time. 

When a negative review comes in, make sure to respond to it in a timely manner and thank them for their business, apologize for what went wrong, explain what happened and why it won’t happen again, provide contact information to move the conversation offline, and invite them back. 

Along those same lines, set up your Google Business Profile. This allows your restaurant to appear in Google Maps local search results and the Knowledge Panel on the right side of websites in regular search results. To optimize it and appear in the Local 3-pack, you’ll need to keep your information up-to-date and accurate. This includes contact information, photos, category, current menu, and posts. If you don’t have any questions and answers yet, create some. 

What Social Media Sites Are Important for Restaurant Marketing?

The better question, or shorter answer, would be what sites aren’t important. In today’s world of digital communications, restaurants with a solid and active social media presence stay first and foremost in people’s minds when making dining-out decisions. The most popular social media platforms include Instagram and Facebook, but YouTube, TikTok, and Twitter all have their place in your social media marketing strategy. You don’t have a social media marketing strategy? Get one.


How do restaurants in small towns stay in business?

Small towns that are destination spots attract visitors that can keep numerous restaurants profitable. For example, I spent over a decade in a small coastal town in California. If you didn’t call ahead, you could be guaranteed a wait at the four remarkable establishments in a town of about 6,000. 

Of course, I also saw several restaurants go under. These restaurants didn’t have the exceptional food or attention to detail the others shared. It goes back to the basics. Give your guests great, fresh food and attentive service, and they’ll be back, whether locals or out-of-town visitors. Nothing really tops that. Not music on the deck, dogs on the patio, or specials on Wednesday. 

A survey conducted by the National Restaurant Association found that 62% of diners would choose a restaurant with locally sourced food over one without. 

How can my restaurant get more online reviews?

The power of online reviews is tangible. Most satisfied customers, and some not-so-satisfied customers, are more than happy to share a review. But, like the rest of us, their lives get busy, and the great meal they had at your establishment remains their secret. 

The best way to increase your presence and number of reviews is simply by asking for them. Train your servers and managers in the best approach for soliciting reviews, and also consider a short request and a link to the review site on your website, menu, or receipt.

How can I attract locals to my restaurant? 

One of the best ways to attract locals is community involvement. Get active and help out where you can. When you support the community, the community supports you. 

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