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According to Bloomberg, independent restaurants are growing faster than big chains and will continue to for the next several years. Annual revenue for independent restaurants is predicted to grow 5% each year through the year 2020.

This is great news for the small business owner, but also brings to light some marketing challenges that independent restaurants face. Without the clout of the big-name brands, it’s difficult for smaller restaurants to stay top of mind with their customers.

Here are some budget-friendly suggestions for keeping customers coming through the doors of an independently owned restaurant:

Proximity – Advertise your restaurant to the people most likely to visit. Just because you once had a group of customers from Ohio, doesn’t mean you should spend ad budget in another state. Poll your customers and staff to get an idea of where people are coming from. All of your targeted advertising should be focused on those locations. Geofencing is a great tool for this.

Social Media – Capitalize on the brand ambassadors you have in your community. Studies show that the consumer is putting more trust in their peer’s activity than advertising messages. Your staff is also a great resource. Have them show off how cool their job is and customers will respond. If you do this correctly, using location tags and hashtags to group the posts, you can make an impact organically without the help of ads. If you’re struggling to grow the community, some social media advertising dollars may be required.

Contesting and Special Programs – Local media companies are always looking for partners for contests and events. It is valuable to have your name involved with something that’s going to create buzz in the community and give potential customers a positive feeling. Coupon programs like Groupon and Living Social are very popular as well. We’ve found that local versions of these programs, like our own Get It Half Off, are a bit more manageable and tie in nicely with other local advertising.

DBC Interactive has worked with many local Delaware and Maryland restaurants to increase their sales and promote their brand. If you’re looking to do the same, we’d love to chat!

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