Online marketing

How to market a restaurant in South Africa: 10 Restaurant marketing ideas

Marketing a restaurant is no easy task. It does not matter whether your restaurant is located in South Africa or anywhere around the world, competition among restaurant business is fierce. Here are some restaurant marketing ideas to help you attract those growling stomachs.

1. Design large posters to use in your restaurant

Draw attention of people passing by your restaurant with mouthwatering posters. You can use these poster indoors or outdoors. This is a great way to attract more attention, and be informative as well. Such posters are best used to show off latest items on your menu, your combos, discounts, and rewards. Here are some poster ideas you can use:

  • Be sure to have your restaurant’s logo on your poster, and also use your brand guide to make sure that your poster follows the same colors and designs as your business. This consistency in appearance ensures that your potential customers recognizes your business easily.
  • Make the information as clear as possible. You can achieve this by using large fonts as specified in your brand guide.
  • Avoid adding unnecessary information. Limit your text and keep it simple.
  • Save a digital copy of your poster and use it for online promotions as well.

2. Take foodie photos

Look, food porn is well alive, and it lives on Instagram. Taking and posting foodie photos online is one of the best ways to promote your restaurant online and attract more customers. To do this you need to take high quality, drool-inducing photos of your menu items.


Visual content gets the most attention online, and you want to be the center of this attention. Post your delicious foodie photos on your website and across various social media platforms under your restaurant’s business account.

You can do this by yourself with a good camera of your smart phone. Becareful though, taking top-notch food images is no easy task, you need to mind the angle, the lighting, the background, etc. our recommendation, hire a pro photographer. If you’re going to take the DIY route, here are some tips that will help you take AAA+ food photos.

3. Set Up Your Google my Business Account

What’s the first thing you do when you’re looking for a service and product? If you’re like most of us, your first though is google. According to Upserve, 90% of guests research a restaurant online before dining, more than any other business type.

Setting up your restaurant’s Google my business account offers so many benefits. Your potential customers can easily find your business on maps for local searches. When you register your business on Google, you put in your address and google will know when people near or around your area are looking for a restaurant. When google gets these searches, they will include your restaurant in their results.

Google my business account is absolutely free to use. You can find a complete guide on how to set up and optimize your restaurant’s Google business account here. The key to appearing on top of local searches is to fully optimize your account by making sure that all the information that Google asks for is there.


Make sure your account is verified. Also, add as much relevant information as you can, add as much media as you can, including a business profile photo, areas you serve and deliver to, your opening and closing hours, attributes (e.g. “free wifi”, “Parking space available”), and a public phone number and restaurant’s website address.

4. Let your staff shine and stand out

Today’s customer service severely lacks the human element. Now is the perfect time to humanize and show of your staff. Seeing happy, smiling employees will do wonders for your reputation, as customers long to be served by joyful workers – joyful workers say a lot about a business, and customers notice. This also shows that you care about your staff by giving them a chance to stand out and be themselves.

There are many ways in which you can let your staff stand out.  For starters, let your staff be expressive in how they do their work and give them the option to do things differently as long as it doesn’t negatively impact customer experience.

Secondly, make sure you address any concerns that your workers have. This allows your staff to work without having an issues looming over their head. Long term effect, your have a happy, loyal staff who’ll get out of their way to please your customers because they just love working for your restaurant.

5. Partner with food delivery services

Ease of use is the name of the game. Food delivery services are a great way to improve your marketing efforts and get your restaurant in front of thousands of potential customers. According to statista, User penetration in the Online Food Delivery segment in South Africa will be at 26.3% in 2022.

There are many different delivery services that you can use. In South Africa, Mr D Foods dominates the market with 30%, followed by Uber Eats at 25%.

Choose the right service that makes the most sense for your restaurant business and is/are within your budget. There is a downside to such a technique. You may need to increase your menu items prices since these services charge you, and not the customer.

Some restaurants even try to implement their own delivery services and have to go through the process of setting up eCommerce software, and hire drivers. But it isn’t the same. Another major benefit of using such a service is that some customers may even discover you for the first time through the service.

6. Create and host events

You can drive a lot of potential customers into your restaurant by creating and hosting different kinds of events. These could be all out annual events, or events around specific observance days related to food or your target audience. Events are great way to get people talking and walking through your restaurant doors.

The best way to get stated with planning for event hosting is to look at your calendar and identify which month or days have relevant holidays or observance days and plan around them.

Another route you can take is using your available information and statistics. Statistics can be used in the future to plan events and draw in more people. In your statistical data you can identify which days are the busiest, which menu items are least and most popular. Next, you can plan events centered on your statistical data. Host an event where you’re promoting certain items on the menu. Run promotions to highlight them and include them in meals and offers.  

Lastly, you need to engage your customers during the event. So, have a theme for the event, get some great entertainment to go along with the promotion. This can be live performances, DJ’s, a competition, etc.

7. Be active on social media

We’ve mentioned posting drool-inducing foodie photos on Instagram, but Instagram isn’t the only social media platform you should be using. Your restaurant needs to have presence in all the top social media platforms in South Africa.

Social media is one of the best ways to get a restaurant business noticed. It’s even more effective if you’re active across various platforms. This makes it more likely for customers to discover your restaurant. The important thing to note when you implement your social media marketing strategy is that every platform is different.

Different content performs better on different platforms, and at different times. So you need to know when to post and on which platform to post. The starting point to this technique is creating a social media strategy that will address everything, from which platforms to prioritize, to creating a content calendar and more.

8. Work with food influencers

Social media influencer marketing is on the rise and will continue to do so even in 2022. Meadiakix, an influencer marketing agency, surveyed marketers in 2018 to see how they felt about influencer marketing.

89% of those surveyed said influencer marketing had comparable to or even better ROI compared to other methods. The findings also showed that 65% of the marketers planned to increase their influencer marketing budget.

Food influencers are figureheads in the food community and they have a large social media following. A partnership with such individuals could attract hundreds and thousands of extra customers for your restaurant. A partnership between a food influencer and restaurant benefits both parties. For influencers, working with restaurants means they’ll be able to create new content that entertains their followers. For your restaurant, this means thousands of food lovers will know about your restaurant and how amazing the food is.

When working with food influencers, make sure you present your restaurant in a way that helps them discover content creation ideas. Influencers are always on the lookout for content opportunities that will help them grow their personal brand and social following.

You could work with a food influencer to create a unique dish that is new to your restaurant, or maybe even name it after them if it will get more customers through the door every day. For restaurant, the goal is to get discovered by new customers, and you want to impress them.

So get started, find the most suitable influencer to work with. Ideally you want an influencer that has audiences that are geographically close to your restaurant or are likely to travel and visit your establishment. This involves doing some research to identify the influencer to work with to maximize the time and money spent on the partnership.

9. Start a food blog

Starting your own food blog is a fantastic way to engage your customers and build brand loyalty. It is also great for improving your restaurant’s visibility in search engines as it contributes to your search engine optimization. When people search for a restaurant online, your restaurant will have a better chance of appearing at the top.

Say you’re based in Durban and you offer Indian food. When your audience around Durban searches for local Indian food, then your website is likely to show up first since Google will have a good understanding of what your business is and what is being offered.

In your blog you can talk about your restaurant, discuss recipes, offer cooking tips, offer healthy eating advice, show of your chefs, share your successes and struggles, funny stories, and everything that might interest your audience.

A blog might seem intimidating to some, but it doesn’t need to be. Our advice, keep it clean, mouthwatering and simple. You don’t need to be the one doing all the writing, some blog posts can be written by staff members. They can highlight some of the processes you have, and events you’ve hosted. Or even insights into how you develop your delicious recipes.

To get started with your restaurant’s blog, we suggest using a Content management system (CMS) such as WordPress for managing your content. It has thousands of built in templates that make it very easy to use and understand.

10. Run mobile ads

Mobile Ads are a fantastic way to get your restaurant in front of thousands of growling stomachs that are often looking for nearby dining options while on the move. Paid mobile ads are generally straightforward; you decide some sort of discount, design a digital poster to coincide with it, then release it and you let people know on social media, Google, or even YouTube.

Mobile ads tend to have high conversion rate while being a cheaper option compared to desktop ads. And a really cool thing is that most online marketing platforms such as Google Ads have some sort of targeting options available for your mobile ads. They let you specify which location want to run your ads, what demographics you’re targeting and more.

For instance, you want to advertise your restaurant in South Africa since it can found in every city. With available customization and targeting options you can specify groups you want to show specific ads to around South Africa. You can increase your bids around dinnertime, when users are often looking for fast food on their mobile phones.

Different ads should be targeted at different groups/demographics. Mobile ads often work best when targeted at people who have visited your restaurant before. But some of the promotions can also be aimed at people who are yet to visit your establishment. You can also decide whether you want to show your ads to wide range of people a few times, or to fewer number of people multiple times. Both work just as well depending on your goal.

A summary of how to market a restaurant in South Africa in 2022

Creating a comprehensive marketing strategy for your restaurant isn’t easy, we hope these tips give you a good idea of where to begin in growing your business. All have been proven to work, and it is totally up to you which one you decide to prioritize and go all in with. Here is a summary of what we covered:

  • Design large posters to use in your restaurant
  • Take foodie Photos
  • Set Up Your Google my Business Account
  • Let your staff shine and stand out
  • Partner with food delivery services
  • Create and host events
  • Get on social media
  • Work with food influencers
  • Start a food blog
  • Run Mobile Ads

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