Wilson Lui
Wilson Lui Business Owner at Sonley Stonegrill & Bar

Sales and Marketing

How do you promote a restaurant located away from the main road?

Hi all,

My name is Wilson and I have a restaurant, Sonley Stonegrill & Bar, at Blackburn. However, the spot of the restaurant is out of the main road and there are nearly none walk-in customers. I have uploaded photos on different social media platform, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. Apart from that, how would you promote a restaurant with a bad location? 

Top voted answer
Greg Tomkins

Greg Tomkins, Director | Web Architect at

Top 10% Website

Hi Wilson - the first thing you have to understand is that sticking photos and comments on social media yourself will not get you far as you need people to follow, like and share what you post. Secondly, take a close look at who your market is and work out where they might be using social media and focus on those particular channels. Of course there is also the obvious and that is to get yourself a great website that will create a sense of wanting in visitors. Before you do any of the above though, confirm what your marketing strategy is and develop a marketing plan. You really want to look closely at a few things in developing these: There are 100's of restaurants within easy driving distance of your own so you need to identify and communicate what it is that makes your restaurant unique, of exceptional value and would induce people to go to your restaurant Confirm who your target market really is - I would suggest that it will be local and I would imagine that 80% customers come from within say 10Kms (or possibly less) so keep this very much in mind when developing your marketing strategy and plans Build a brand around what your restaurant is all about and avoid the temptation to say "best value", "great service", "family dining" etc... these sorts of value propositions are too broad and very soft. Be specific and find something that sets your business apart. Check out references on defining yor value proposition Be sure to interact with anyone who posts on any of the social media or business directory platforms that you are listed with and I would also suggest you do a scan of the leading directories that do have you listed and claim your listing - many of these insert a listing they have scrapped from Yellow Pages that you are probably unaware of so get these active but be sure to select the right ones. Don't overlook other marketing channels particularly in the local area - get out and network, look at other options that can be worked into your digital marketing. Consider any promotional campaigns that can be easily generated and I would suggest be very careful with the use of coupons such as Groupon etc as these can invariably cost you money and soemtimes lots of it. Check out what your competition does and rather than trying to beat them at what they are good at, find the gaps in their business where you can come in and stake your claim Some quick observations I made: Your principal website is not in place - fix this or if it is under construction then get a landing page at least in place You advise anyone visiting your other website Sonley Cafe to go to your new website - my suggestion is have a 301 redirect set up on your domain pointing directly at your new domain and on your new site refer to the fact that the business has changed but still offers the same or better menu/service that was to be found at Sonley Cafe. Get your Google My Business listing up to date and include reviews and photographs - this will be a must for attracting local dinersYou need more followers on your Facebook page - remember that Facebook posts you make will generally only get to about 2% of your followers - the only way to get this higher is to engage heavily with your followers and of course have them engage with you. Other social media channels such as Yelp might prove to be more beneficialI hope these few tips give you something to think about and are of assistance

Uttam Jha

Uttam Jha, Owner at

Top 10% Startup

Depends on your business strategy too. if you have plenty of parking that is a bonus. you can sell the parking which is a great thing. for a person like me i would love to park my car walk to the restaurent and have a good food.

On the other hand if you go to menulog and other providers you can get a few delivery guys and grow your business that way.

I see lots of restaurent owners have a good location paying high rentals but no parking so they resort to take aways and menulog and try to survive. you are good in that way as you can sell the old way to dine in and easy parking for your place.

as for marketing budgets, if i was in your shoes, i would stick with menulog, groupon etc as they do loads of seo and promotions and drive sales. but yes having a basic website and doing some local seo always pays good.

Yee Trinh

Yee Trinh, Cofounder at

Top 10% Market Research Get quote

With any hospitality establishment, the best way to market your business is the hard, old-fashioned way - word of mouth. You need to get your current customers to spread the word. What do you need for this?

1. Exceptional product, exceptional service, exceptional atmosphere or an all around exceptional experience. You need at least one of the first three. Make your food tastes good, and make sure it looks good if you want them to share it on social media. If your food is average, make sure you employ and train your staff to go above and beyond. Treat your customers like royalty. Set the vibe in your restaurant. Make it different. Set it apart from the other restaurants in the area; whether it be through the decor, lighting or music. Best way is to give them all three, but that's easier said than done.

2. Hand-hold your customers through the process of spreading the word. You can do this through social media prompts. Have written somewhere, "Check in at Sonley Stonegrill & Bar on Facebook". You could prompt them further with social media competitions if you aren't achieving the expected results just with these prompts. One very clever way businesses have their customers spread the word about them is simply by giving them a reason to. A business in Chatswood has a blackboard outside, on which they write very clever jokes related to coffee and bacon and such. It makes me laugh every morning on the way to work and I occasionally share it with my friends. Think outside the box.

3. (As suggested by Greg above) If you don't already have a decent number of customers, off which to leverage the above two points, a great way of bringing in customers to a relatively unknown establishment is through deal sites such as Groupon and Living Social. Offer a limited time deal. Be smart about this as Greg has warned above. With the customers you bring in through such deals, you can work your magic from points 1 & 2 with them.

Good luck Wilson.

Lisa Ormenyessy

Lisa Ormenyessy, Business Coach and Marketing Specialist at

Hi Wilson,I've just had a quick look at your restaurant, and your reviews on trip advisor, urban spoon and Facebook.My suggestion for some of the 'not so nice' reviews that you have had that you respond. This way readers can see that the owner is proactive. It also enables you to engage in complaint marketing. A client of mine does this really well on Facebook - Cardones Seafood and Grill (Glenelg, South Aust) - go and check out how they have responded to negative reviews.Did I deduct that you have had a make over? Make this clear as it will separate the poor earlier reviews from the latest. raving reviews (Well Done btw!)Hopefully as a response to Greg's post you will have your Google Business Account - This is imperative - Google loves Google. While your social and review sites are important - the 5 Start review process on Google is critical and will also help your SEO ratings when people are searching for restaurants in your area.Yee is correct with the hand holding - go one step further and reward patrons when they post positive reviews or check in - ie like us on Facebook and receive..... Actively insert the 'have you checked in' into the scripting that your staff is using when they are seating your guests.If you are collecting your customers details (I hope you are) other things you can do to increase patronage is to call the day after they have been in and make an offer to come in on your slower days (ie a Monday or a Tuesday) and receive a complimentary glass or wine or similar. I see you have used Groupon so the cost of a wine should be less than what you are offering there.Collecting customers details is essential for restaurants - at the moment can you email a customer and invite them to come in for their birthday or wedding anniversary?If you wanted to do some direct marketing locally think of Groups of people.What about the local sporting clubs in your area (men, in general, are big meat eaters) - think about what offers you could give them - "man of the match" deal? Most local sporting clubs are always looking for ways to earn money - perhaps offer a % back to the club for their members creating a win-win (or - as discounting is a dangerous habit to get in to - what about a free beer for members with every mains) What night to they train - could you do a pre-training or after training package (with all the focus on high protien for sports people this might have some legs if executed properly)Do you have a local cinema you could work with?Wilson, how is your signage? Is it easy for me to find your restaurant or parking? An Adelaide furniture store used this to their advantage in their marketing. Their tag line was 'it's a pig of a location' and then went on to say how it allowed them to give you better prices because of their low overheads. Is there a way for you to attribute value to the location (ie easy parking) .... Oh! as a steak house could you say you do not beef up the prices because of high overheads - or its a cow of a location....:-) These ideas are just off the top of my head however you get the idea I am sure - anything to make yourself memorable. .Let us know how you get on Wilson,Warmly, Lisa.

Lisa Creffield

Lisa Creffield, Founder at

Just thinking as a customer, three routes tend to get me to try out a new restaurant:

1. Hearing about it word of mouth or in a review, and being able to check its menu online

2. Driving or walking past and seeing a board with interesting specials or themed nights on it (eg buffet, free dessert, not live music though, that's a turn off).

3. If there's a flyer or a menu put in my mailbox. This is probably one of the main ways I discover and try restaurants in my area

Jason Upton

Jason Upton, Owner at

Your first priority should be to get your restaurant showing in the Google local business map listings. 60%of mobile searches are looking for a product or service right then and there. Simply do search on Google for "restaurant [your city]" and see if your listed in the top 3 within the map listings. If not I can help you get into those spots

Jessica McGrath

Jessica McGrath, Marketing Consultant at Stoke Marketing

Hi Wilson,

As I look at your website I see that you are a Steakhouse, not cheap and not BYO. Tricky to be the friendly local with that but you can definitely be the special treat so you need to look further afield as well for customers. Your clientelle may not be the instagram type just yet but they will definitely be your Trip advisor type so respond to your negative reviews asap.

* work on the SEO of your site so people can find you for what you provide, not just where you are - tell them about your 400 DAYS WAGYU - it's worth travelling for

* open for a few lunches Thurs - Fri, and let all the local small businesses know about it - put your blackboard out!

* Get onto Google local business as Jason says

* Connect with some local hotels (accomodation) closer to the city and invite the Head of concierge for lunch so they can recommend you to their customers

*Get some good PR happening in local papers - eat sections and business & food mags/portals so you can tell everyone about Sonleys, those who aren't looking for you today but might like a steak next week.

* Don't give away too much too soon - you will find you have a niche market who will pay for the quality of what you do (as long as you do it)

Best of luck