One of the biggest struggles many of the restaurant owners that I work with have is figuring out how to take their marketing to the next level with a limited budget!

This means that they need creative and inexpensive ways to market their restaurant that give them a lot of bang for their buck.  Here are

Randy Walters, owner of Pittsburgh Willys knows how to market a restaurant on a budget

Randy Walters, owner of Pittsburgh Willys knows how to market a restaurant on a budget. His Pittsburgh Steelers theme has created quite a following.

4 B’s that will help create buzz for any restaurant on a budget.

1. Be a Sports Fan

Become the unofficial restaurant of your hometown or local sports team.  Have a sports themed promotion, use sports-themed décor, or create a sports themed menu item.  Give people discounts or freebies for wearing their favorite team’s colors, or logos. Here’s a secret:  it’s doesn’t have to be an Arizona team.  Pittsburgh Willy’s in Chandler, Arizona, has created quite a following with their Pittsburgh Steelers theme.

2. Be Charitable

Charities are always looking for ways to raise money and you can get some great publicity by picking one or two charities that will be your fundraising partners.  Throughout the year, you can tie promotions into this donation partnership which increases the likelihood of media coverage and positive press.  Jeff Flancer, owner of Flancer’s Restaurant in Gilbert, and Mesa, Arizona, does this by having an annual pizza eating contest to benefit Wounded Warriors. Not only did they build a lot of buzz for their restaurant, they raised over $28,000 this year!

3. Be Competitive

Last year two Phoenix, Arizona, restaurants engaged in a public showdown when Restaurant Noca challenged Joe’s Real BBQ as far as who had the best brisket. The “Brisket Throw Down” was all in good fun, however, the media and the public took it seriously, garnering massive publicity for both restaurants for several weeks leading up to the event.

4. Be Budget Conscious

Regardless of what the economy is doing, diners love to get a good deal.  And you don’t have to use coupons to give it to them. Make sure you’re taking advantageous of offering special pricing for low traffic times of the day including happy hour or pre or post dinner specials.  Another idea to increase sales is to create a prix fixe menu that includes appetizer, entrée and dessert for one set price.  Create a menu around an “in season” menu item, a summer holiday, or just for fun. The options are endless.