People go to your place because:
a) The business you're in - the market category - is worthwhile, and
b) Your company has a worthwhile offering in that category
We all promote our businesses. But let's talk about promoting the category. It's not only when you're a pioneer that you need to promote the category. When the marketing category is threatened, category promotion can be just as vital. Because relationships and alliances precede sales and customers.
For my company, part & parcel of selling has been volunteering lot of hours, telling chains and restaurant how the category that we're in can help them. (As you can see from the picture, I've logged a lot of hours, and some good meals too. Can't complain). And this year, these volunteer gigs have started to really pay off.
The category is a context for your business. Category sales can be as direct as you like - “Breakfast all day”; ”Going out is good value".
If your place is a roadhouse, for instance, you have to shine in the roadhouse category. But people also have to see the value of a roadhouse as a type of eatery.
It's a balancing act, and one supports the other. Sell your business as a service, and remember to tip the category. In difficult times, the restaurant category has to be supported. We need to find ways and means.