3 tips for maximizing restaurant cross-promotion

By Megan Prevost

There are many different strategies that can help to propel a new business to success, especially in the continually evolving world of digital marketing. Even in the digital age, one piece of old-school wisdom still holds true — word of mouth is one of the most consistently successful forms of advertising. The trick to getting the word out can be tough, but there is a classic strategy that can help speed up the process: local cross-promotion.

Spreading the word

What is local cross-promotion?

Put simply, it’s collaborating with other businesses and organizations to spread the news about your new venture. This isn’t the same as putting an ad in a publication or on social media. Local cross-promotion focuses on putting some element of an experience in front of potential customers.

It could be as simple as offering samples of crowd-pleaser dishes at food festivals, or as elaborate as putting in a bid to have your food featured in a local sporting arena. But the goal is always the same: you’re putting your product directly in front of people who may not have thought to find it otherwise.

There are dozens of possible methods to execute this; here are just a few ideas.

1. There is such a thing as a free lunch

Does your business have a lunch service? Then chances are there are other businesses nearby that have people working around lunchtime. New restaurateurs can reach out to close-by businesses and offer to bring lunch for their employees.

With a few quick questions about the number of mouths to feed, dietary needs and preferences, and a fixed time and date, it becomes easy to plan your lunch drop-off. Your lunch donation can help break up office monotony and create a distinct memory for your new future diners. Plus, managers will love the chance to get their teams together for something fun and free.

2. Check your calendar

Food festivals, farmer’s markets, progressive dinners, and even local ball games; when high-traffic events are going on around town, you can and should get your restaurant involved. Promoters are always looking for new and interesting vendors to add to their repertoire and reaching out first will give you the chance to be featured at their event and bring in a little revenue.

Work with your culinary team to figure out what from your menu can be prepped in advance and brought to serve at an event. If you’re looking to add some energy to your booth or stand, come with a flat-top grill or some way to cook on-site easily and effectively. After all, the smell of good food is an advertisement in itself. With an eager face to talk about your new restaurant, you can expect some locals to come seeking the full experience.

3. Great deals on great meals

Local publications or promotional events like those mentioned above are a great chance to pass out coupons. By using printed coupons (or QR code accessible ones), you can offer a wide variety of deals and discounts, such as a free appetizer or small plate, 10 per cent off a meal, free dessert, or something similar.

Little incentives like these can be enough to get folks in the door, and a solid menu can push them to try more than they planned on. This is best done with physical coupons, so you have a little more control over the number circulating around town. Think carefully about details like expiration dates and price points, and you’ll start seeing those coupons come home in no time.

Your imagination is the limit

These ideas are just a jumping-off point, and there are countless other options for spreading the word about your new business, like pairing up with other new or locally loved restaurants for special dinners, securing hometown radio or TV news features. You’re only limited by your imagination.

Word of mouth is any new business’s best friend, and with a little creativity in your ideas for cross-promotion, you can figure out how to make the buzz work for you.

Megan Prevost is a contributing writer for RestoBiz and a Content Manager for MustHaveMenus. Her work has also appeared in App Institute, Bar Business, Modern Restaurant Management, Small Business Currents, PMQ, FSR, The Daily Fandom, and FanSided.