Will Facebook Ads Work For My Restaurant?

I LOVE good food and because of that, I love restaurants. I admire the grit and spirit required to run something that requires so much hard work, dedication, and passion every single day. Kudos to you all. An additional factor small to medium restaurants have is the difficulty in turning out good profits consistently. This is illustrated by the fact that almost 60% of restaurants fail in three years or less after launch.

So this question comes up a lot as many restaurants look to social media as potential avenues to  increase revenue and hopefully, long-term customers.

Should my restaurant use Facebook Advertising?

My answer every single time is always – yes. Absolutely. Today.

That said, there are some things about Facebook Advertising in the restaurant world you should consider.

1.) It’s not a magic bullet. Avoid anyone who says that with $500 they’ll be filling up your dining room every single night. That’s simply not going to happen. The entire process is more strategic and complex than that and requires dedication and lots of research.

2.) Don’t just “Boost” your posts. Boosting a post now and again is fine – especially around specials you’re running. Facebook only shows between 1-5% of your “likes” what you actually post. Boosting shows them to more. That said, this should be part of a larger strategy and goals for your revenue and marketing. Paying someone to simply boost your posts is a waste of money and something that you can easily do yourself without someone charging you.

3.) Make sure you understand the basic terminology. Things like CPC, PPC, are the basic things you need to understand to get started advertising so that you don’t lose money on the deal. Cost Per Click happens when you’re sending someone to your website (or anywhere else) through a link. At the most simplified level, this is simply how much you pay per click. The lower the number the better. This can get complex and tricky because Facebook has a limited pool of people to show their ads to since they don’t want to bombard people with too many ads. PPC or Pay Per Click is related but instead of waiting on people to click, you’re paying for each individual click via a bid system. So you could bid  $2 per click and then every time someone clicks you’ll be charged $2. At first it seems ridiculous to go this route, but depending on the circumstance and audience, this could be a better avenue than CPC.  For a really in-depth read on this head over to AdEspresso Facebook Ads

How a Facebook Ads Campaign SHOULD Work.


Restaurant Revenue Increase Through Facebook Advertising

If you’re looking into having someone set up ads campaigns for you, this is a very simplified structure they (or you) should be following.

  1. Identify Your Target Audience
  2. Create A/B Ads To Test
  3. Once Performance Baseline is Established – stop all ads but the “winner”
  4. See results in the restaurant.

Identifying Your Target Audience

It’s a trap to think that “everyone” is your target audience. NO! This is the number one reason that people “try” Facebook advertising, spend way too much money and get virtually nothing in return. The larger your audience pool, the more you’re going to spend to reach the right people and the more generic your ad is, the less it will convert.

Think about a campaign as a special. Your daily special is something that each server tells the table about, however, you know it’s not for everyone. Not everyone likes seafood so your Whole Roasted Sea Bass with Juniper berries and Saffron butter won’t sound good to everyone. Those who love Sea Bass or ,seafood or fish in general, will be MUCH more likely to purchase the special than someone who is a steak and potatoes kind of person.

So, if you know this and could talk directly to seafood lovers – wouldn’t that be ideal? Of course. So now you know your target audience. People who like Sea Bass, Fish, or Seafood.

Each campaign you run should have a target audience that everything from the wording to the images crafted for that audience. You’re not going to entice a vegetarian to each at your restaurant with an image of a sizzling steak.

So if it is a special dish, make sure the right audience is selected when you’re making your ad. If it’s simply for your restaurant overall – look for the audience that loves your type of food. If it is a contest, think about who could make the best use of it? Target men with a special deal for fancy valentines day dinners if you find that they generally book the reservations more often for that day. If you offer an authentic experience in your ethnic food group – don’t forget that oftentimes the expats from your country will be looking for a taste of home.

A/B Ad Testing & Launching Your Facebook Ads Campaign

There are several ways to do this, but you at least want to start two different ads sent to your audiences to explore how the audience responds to different images and ad copy. Once you’ve run this and spent some money you should see a clear performer. I say performer, but what I really mean is that you are seeing your goal fulfilled. If it’s a coupon and you want shares – if you only have a bunch of likes – that’s nice, but not your goal. If your other ad has less likes, but 2x the amount of shares, that’s probably your best bet – though you might look at combining the photo of one with the copy of another and testing that.

Always keep the true goal in mind. If it is to get people into an email list – only care about that. If it’s butts in seats, then that’s your focus as well.

Once you’re happy with the results, launch the campaign. If you have multiple audiences, make sure these are done through different campaigns or ad sets within a campaign. Keep your ads as individualized as possible.


How you see Revenue Increases

This is my FAVORITE part! I love when people start making money even after paying for ads and the lightbulb goes off. Let’s make up a scenario.

So, let’s say you spend  $200 on advertising a special contest for your slow night.

You normally only have between 30% capacity on the night. So, you spent $200 on ads – over the course of the duration. Your campaign drew in enough people and you went to 50% capacity. Let’s pretend your restaurant seats 200.

On an average slow night, you’re bringing in about 60 people. Averaging $24 a person, that’s $1,440 gross revenue. A 40 person jump places your increase in gross at $760 AFTER you paid for the ads.

Where things get REALLY exciting is that you probably grabbed their email and now you can reach them for other dinner specials to bring them back AND if they’re new customers, which we were targeting for, you’ll get an increase in revenue in the long term as well because with good service and a good experience, they’ll be back.




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