The fast casual restaurant industry continues to grow as new chains and quick-service food establishments pop up around the country.
To stand out from the new competition, you need to incorporate fun and interesting fast casual restaurant marketing ideas that will bring in new customers and keep existing customers coming back.
To help get your creative juices flowing, here are some simple yet engaging promotional strategies you can start today.
1.) Hold a social media photo contest.
You can’t just set up social media profiles and occasionally post as one of your fast casual marketing ideas. You need to run campaigns and create interactions that encourage two-way conversations with your followers. You can do that by hosting a social media photo contests.
For example, create a branded hashtag and ask your followers to post their best photo that relates to your business.
2.) Share user-generated content.
Once you get social media fans to share content about your brand, highlight it. Share the photos that people post from or about your location. When you feature user-generated content, it makes your customers feel special and also increases the likelihood that they will repost your message and share it with their followers.
It’s also a good way to bring social media into your location as you can share customer content on digital screens in your restaurant.
3.) Create a must-see food item.
Give guests a reason to visit your location by creating a product or food offering they have to see. Starbuck successfully used this fast casual restaurant marketing idea when they created the Unicorn Frappuccino. Customers were lined up to get a look at the wild, pink and blue drink.
Develop an unusual food item or plating technique that guests want to see in person. This strategy will bring in guests as well as encourage them to share their experiences on social media.
My lunchtime today mostly consisted of making sure I could get this. #unicornfrappuccino #basicaf pic.twitter.com/cSCaO4Fyih
— ♥ Pygmy (@daspygmy) April 19, 2017
4.) Create a food challenge.
Another way to use interesting experiences as an incentive to bring customers to your restaurant is offering a food challenge. Guests love to try and eat an extra large portion of food or try a dish that is extra hot or unique and document the experience to share with their friends.
Invite guests to a fun food challenge and reward them with a discount, photo on the wall-of-fame, or some other interesting prize.
5.) Celebrate relevant food holidays.
Another fast casual restaurant marketing idea that makes food fun is celebrating national food holidays. From National Banana Split Day to Bratwurst Day to Peanut Day, there is a food holiday for practical every dish you can imagine.
Look at the year in advance and pick out the food holidays that best match your core offerings, and then schedule events, social campaigns, and other fun experiences around these quirky holidays.
6.) Share recipe videos.
Another type of food-related social media content that performs well are recipe videos. While you don’t want to give away the secrets of your food items, you can create an interesting video that gives fans of your food fun ways to make dishes at home.
To find some recipe video inspiration, check out Tasty’s popular Facebook page (that has more than 85 million fans).
7.) Invite food bloggers to your restaurant.
Another one of the fast casual restaurant marketing ideas that can connect the online world with the real world is hosting a blogger event. Look for local bloggers that regularly write about their restaurant experiences on their blog or through social media, and invite them to your location for a special tasting.
Inviting food bloggers to a private tasting or group event is a good way to get extra exposure from local food influencers who have a strong following.
8.) Start a loyalty program.
Reward your loyal customers and encourage guests to visit again and again by participating in loyalty marketing. Create a reward program that gives guests points or benefits for visiting more often. This strategy both creates loyalty and decreases customer churn.
Take it up a notch by gamifying your loyalty rewards program so that guests can compete with each other or collect points to win prizes. Adding another layer to your loyalty program can encourage more guests to participate.
9.) Join a food delivery program.
One of the reasons for the rise of fast casual restaurants is the growing demand for quick and on-demand services. Offer the quick service that customers are beginning to demand by partnering up with food delivery program that enables guests to order online and have your food delivered to them.
Partner up with a food delivery program though UberEats, Postmates, Grubhub, or something similar that manages the ordering and delivering process for you.
10.) Update your in-store menus.
Another fast casual marketing idea that will show your guests and brand fans that you are keeping up with technology is upgrading your menu boards. Stop showcasing your food items on boring static, poster boards or signs.
Start using dynamic digital menus that enable you to show slideshows, animations, and videos of your food offerings. This display shows guests that your restaurant is committed to using new content platforms, and it is also a powerful marketing tool that can initiate upsells and cross-sells.
11.) Leverage your Yelp presence.
Yelp is one of the most popular restaurant review platforms, so set up a powerful and positive presence on the site. Encourage guests to leave reviews and rate your businesses.
Also, consider offering Yelp promotions that give guests rewards for when they check-in or visit your location. Or, use Yelp advertising to get your restaurant to show at the top of local listings.
Keep track of your fast casual restaurant marketing ideas…
One part of marketing is coming up with promotional ideas. The other part is executing those ideas.
Make sure you don’t miss, skip, or forget any of the great marketing ideas your have for your restaurants. Download our marketing editorial calendar and schedule each of your promotions so you never miss a food holiday, function, or fun opportunity to engage and entertain your customers.