3 Free Marketing Tools for Restaurant Owners

Marketing for restaurants is always something of a mystical concept. It can be hard to conceptualize for those who work in the business. You’re making good food. What else is there to say?

The answer, it turns out, is “a lot.” The information era means it’s hard not to get lost in the constantly-flowing stream of news hitting your potential guests’ eyes. You have to stand out against the crowd, which is more difficult now than ever. You need a toolbox to dip into marketing and start steering traffic toward your business, and here are three tools you can use to fill it.

1. MustHaveMenus

Source: musthavemenus.com

Marketing a restaurant is a tough putt at the best of times, but worrying about marketing and branding can quickly become overwhelming. Ideally, every restaurant wants to hire a graphic designer who can tailor brand identity pieces to meet their needs. But truthfully, graphic design can cost a lot, and having to pay for it before getting your venture off the ground. Thankfully, the folks at MustHaveMenus have your branding needs covered.

MustHaveMenus’ stock-in-trade is templates galore. Their menu maker tool is as simple as signing up for an account on the website and plugging in your information, and their other design tools are just as easy to leverage to make your branding effort easier. What’s more, if you need to establish cohesive branding across menus, flyers, sandwich board signs, QR codes, and so on, this site is an excellent arrow in your quiver. In addition to their templates, they also provide stock photos, cloud storage, online menu toolsets, and more, all for free.

They even have tools for odds and ends, like pre-packaged food labels, logos, comment cards, and social media posts.

Even though, strictly speaking, this is a list of free tools, it’s worth noting that MustHaveMenus also includes a paid option with all the above benefits cranked up to eleven. The already-massive list of templates quadruples in size, with more storage available, more that can be saved to your business profile, added customer support, custom fonts, and more.

At the time of writing, they’re offering all these benefits for only $16 a month (a Netflix subscription these days). For $10 each, you can add group access to the rest of your management team or branding for multiple restaurant locations. It might not be free, but it’s a hell of a sales pitch for the benefits available. If you’re getting established and need a way to set up branding quickly and efficiently but with exceptional polish, MustHaveMenus should be the first stop.

2. Wix

Source: wix.com

Wix is a website builder that hosts thousands of websites across the web, and they can host yours too! A 2019 survey revealed that nearly eighty percent of diners check out a restaurant’s website before settling on going there. The takeaway here is that you need a website that works well for you, and Wix can help you build one – for free – without bogging you down in coding or necessary web expertise.

They provide domains, website templates, hosting, online commerce functionality, and an unlimited number of pages to add to your website as basic features without charging you a dime. If you’re trying to establish a web presence (and if you’re not already, you need to be – eighty percent, remember?), Wix is a great place to start.

Like MustHaveMenus, there are a whole host of added benefits that Wix can provide if you spring for the purchase of a premium plan. With paid subscriptions, you can add additional options for storage, video hosting, private domains, and more. They also provide resources on their home site that teach more about how to design a quality website and better represent yourself online.

They even offer additional options for how your website can interact with your social media accounts to schedule or design posts. This last option is an invaluable tool, given social media’s critical role in marketing your restaurant. Down the line, after some success, it may make more sense to hire a web developer to run your online presence, but if you’re trying to put your name on the internet, Wix is here to help.

3. Mailchimp

Source: mailchimp.com

Never underestimate the power of email! Email marketing is an incredibly useful tool for keeping your business in the minds of your diners, especially if you send out email blasts when you run specials or plan holiday celebrations. If you use your website and social media platforms to encourage guests to sign up for an email list (maybe by offering a free coupon upon signup), you can use Mailchimp to manage it.

Their free plan is nothing to sneeze at either, with the option to include 500 contacts, 2500 emails sent a month, customer support, analytics, email templates, and more. Writing an email might seem deceptively simple, but Mailchimp’s enormous suite of free tools shows off exactly how much you can do with a simple mailer to keep your diners interested.

Like MustHaveMenus, even their paid plans are affordable, starting at only eleven dollars monthly. Not only are the paid plans affordable, but they also double down on all of the free features, with more contact storage and email sends, expanded customer support, more templates, and a genuinely enormous number of organizational and analytical tools at your disposal. Given how much email can boost awareness of what’s going on at your restaurant, having a service on deck to spread the word about what’s new is a no-brainer.

Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop

The tools listed here aren’t simply useful – given a chance, they can be integral to your success in marketing your business. But there’s no reason to limit yourself to what’s listed here.

While these tools are fantastic, there are hundreds (if not thousands) of free or cheap tools you can use to market your business online or in the physical world. Start here and go forward; before you know it, you could become the marketing mastermind responsible for putting your business’s name on everyone’s lips.