Little league baseball players

Sponsoring a youth league team is a great way to market your restaurant or small business in the local community.

It’s never easy to get new customers. Especially in a competitive area like the restaurant industry.

That said, there are some shoe-string budget type ideas to try that won’t cost much and might pay off handsomely by attracting new faces to your establishment. After all, every business needs a steady flow of new customers to keep revenues rolling in.

To that end, here are four ideas for how to get new customers to try your restaurant:

Spiff up your social media properties
Think of your social media properties as extensions of your front door. Strangers in cyberspace will browse past it every day and if it appears inviting, they might just decide to give your restaurant a chance. To make your social media presence appear inviting, you’ll want to include some great photographs of your food and your physical location. In addition, make sure you provide an enticing description of your establishment, what type of food and drinks you serve, the price range and your hours.

In addition, pay attention to the reviews on your page. Studies have shown that positive Yelp reviews in particular can boost revenues at a restaurant. If you have bad reviews, you can take steps to improve. If you have good reviews, you can thank those visitors for their review. To get new reviews, encourage guests to leave comments on your Facebook or Yelp page.

Participate in local food events and festivals
Festivals are great local marketing opportunities. There’s typically a decent cross section of folks coming to the event and you’ll find lots of potential new customers. Let them try your food by giving out samples and then sell full portions from your menu as normal.

As a bonus: offer a way to have event goers sign up for your email newsletter and then send them a quick coupon that they can use within the next 30 days for 10 percent off their first visit.

Also, make sure you take lots of pictures at the event and post the pictures on your social media properties.

Contact local newspapers and local news websites
The goal here is to drum up free press coverage in the local news. Remember those photos you took at the local event (see the previous tip)? Send them to the local newspaper to see if they’re interested in running the photos in their print edition. Make sure you send a caption in with the photo along with the names of the people pictured (you should also make sure you have their permission to send the photo the newspaper).

Don’t have photos? You can try to get coverage other ways. Perhaps you are using news ingredients in your menu and you think it’s newsworthy. Or, maybe you are going to have a special one-night concert and you want to let the press know about it.

Remember: newspapers are always looking for ideas for things to write about so don’t get discouraged if you get turned down the first time. There’s always the next time.

Sponsor a little league team
There’s probably no better way to ingratiate your business to the local moms and dads than to sponsor a youth sports team. It brings an immediate connection to the community and an immediate sense of gratitude from the parents, coaches and league volunteers.

To build on the sponsorship, offer a special night for the team or teams to come enjoy a meal and receive 10 percent off. There’s bound to be some new customers that come into your place from that offer. In addition, you can collect email addresses of parents and coaches that you can use for future marketing efforts.

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