Competition is fierce in the restaurant industry in today’s economy as restaurant owners are finding it more and more difficult to fill their tables on a nightly basis. It doesn’t matter what the cuisine is or the posh nature of the establishment: the recession has hit this industry hard, to the point where just about every restaurant is scrambling for ways to effectively market themselves in unique manners.

Forget about traditional marketing – studies upon studies show that mobile marketing and campaign video email are the most effective forms of promotion in today’s world. The beauty of mobile marketing is that you can effectively utilize SMS text messages to build an opt-in database of strong and targeted prospective customers much easier than thought possible via traditional print media and do it cost-effectively as well where your restaurant mobile marketing actually costs less!

With that in mind, here are five mobile business-building steps you must take to insure your restaurant can compete in today’s recessionary times for effective restaurant marketing:

1) Purchase a mobile keyword and brand your restaurant around it. Effective restaurant marketing begins with this step. Your mobile keyword can be a version of your restaurant name or you can make it generic if you’d like (text HOTDEALS to 69302 as an example – but beware, mobile text message marketing has become so popular many strong generic keywords are already taken)

With your mobile keyword in place, create a value offer to entice your future customers to opt-into your campaigns. (for example, text to 69302 and get 5% off your bill). The better the offer, the more people will opt-in. When people text your offer on their cell phones, they will immediately be sent a coupon to their phones to redeem at your restaurant ( a coupon they can’t forget at home) – and you can market to them in the future whenever you’d like with more valuable offers to keep them coming back again and again.

Reference your keyword on all your promotional items, (website, restaurant signage, business cards, receipts, billboards, and yes even print advertising if you still can’t make the break from traditional advertising) and you’ll build your opt-in database very quickly.

2) Create a barcode scan to deliver content. 2D Barcodes can deliver any content you’d like directly to a user’s mobile device including videos, texts, social media messages, mobile coupons, even your entire menu, all by simply using the camera on your phone as a scanning device and downloading the mobile scanning software for free. Mobile marketing barcode scanning works fantastically for restaurant marketing because it turns untrackable advertising into trackable data. The possibilities for restaurant mobile marketing using barcode scans are limitless and because it’s so new to the market, your customers are sure to be amazed at their ease of use and convenience. They also provide a “wow factor” second to none and will skyrocket customer loyalty and incremental sales since an amazed customer is a repeat customer.

3) Develop a video for your website and upload it to YouTube. This seems obvious as YouTube is now the #2 search engine on the internet, which means if you don’t have some kind of presence on YouTube, you are missing out on a very powerful (and free) source of potential customers. It doesn’t have to be an elaborate production either, perhaps just a 1 or 2 minute video of a tour of your restaurant and maybe some shots of food preparation in the kitchen – perhaps even include your keyword offer and your 2D barcode scan! The key is if you tag the video correctly and learn how to rank your video for relevance, you’ll see a great amount of traffic to your website as a result of video marketing.

4) Incorporate mobile marketing campaigns to drive reservations to your restaurant. The goal of the above steps is to grow your opt-in permission based marketing list. Now you need to stay in touch with these people with a variety of value-added updates or offers. Depending on how you setup your lead captures, you can send video emails to your subscribers or send them text messages – the point is to interact and turn them into customers (or repeat customers hopefully). For example, if your restaurant is hosting some kind of benefit or charity event, you may want to blast out a message telling people not to miss it and make their reservations right now.

Or create a mobile campaign advertising on mobile devices where your ad is shown and clickable for immediate reservation capabilities. Again, the possibilities are endless. Consult with a mobile marketing company for best practices on how to make this work to your advantage.

5) Develop an app for your restaurant for download to mobile devices from the iTunes store. Remember how we mentioned how popular YouTube is? Well, there are literally thousands upon thousands of downloads from Apple’s iTunes store each day on just about every subject. Perhaps someone may find your app while searching for “restaurants” on iTunes? It’s entirely possible and a good app can do wonders for your brand awareness.