Restaurant advertising can be effective, but like all restaurant marketing activities it must be applied in the right way. Campaigns that only build a brand and have no specific reason for being are for the big restaurants that already have an image. And just ignore all of those ad sales reps that come begging for your restaurant marketing money to put an ad in another guide or newspaper. Keep this in mind: If advertising isn’t about making a sale, or achieving a specific goal, then don’t do it.
Your restaurant advertising should be about performance; your customer should do something following your advertisement. That means that you must first have a system for tracking and measuring the success of a restaurant advertising campaign, a compelling message and a clear call to action that motivates your restaurant customer to act. By that we mean telling the potential customer exactly what to do. For every piece of a restaurant promotion, whether an advertisement, the yellow pages a brochure, or an email, you must ask the potential customer to contact you, make a reservation, come to your restaurant, refer you or take some kind of action. Otherwise it’s a waste of your precious restaurant marketing budget and you’d be better off doing something else.
Make sure to follow these guidelines for all restaurant advertising and direct mail (flyers, emails, brochures, postcards, etc):
– Your restaurant advertisement must be in a publication or place that is targeted to the type of customer that you are looking for. If you are a family restaurant then make sure to put your advertisements in the local school newsletter or at the nearby childcare center.
– The promotion piece must have a strong headline that clearly shows the benefit to the reader. You logo is not a strong headline. ‘Be Our Guest for a Before Dinner Drink’ is a powerful headline that attracts attention. Or if there is something extraordinary about your establishment – like the only waterside dining, or early happy hours, then shout that out. What is the biggest benefit that you can give to your customer, Identify it and then put it in your headline.
– Have a compelling offer. An offer both makes the reader act and allows you to track if the restaurant advertisement was successful or not. ‘Come celebrate our new opening with a FREE glass of wine.’ Your offer should be compelling enough that the reader says to himself ‘Why wouldn’t I do this, What do I have to lose,’
– Make it personal. Include pictures of yourself or your team and sign it with your name.
– Use conversational language that builds trust with your prospect and great compelling copy. If you need to, get someone to help you – it’s worth the investment to get it right.
– Have a clear ‘call to action’ that tells the person exactly what to do. “Call 1 800 303 3510 to reserve your table.” “Book now, spaces are limited.” Add an expiry date to any offer, which will create a sense of urgency and encourage people to act.
– Overcome scepticism. Use a guarantee or have a perceived expert speak for you. ‘The best sandwich in town or it’s on us.’ While there will be a few people who take you up on the guarantee, if you are confident with your product you will see that the new business will pay for any refunded money several times over.
– Use testimonials, especially if it is from press, local critics, or celebrities.
Like any marketing activity if you cannot clearly measure the benefit of your restaurant promotions then stop doing it and shift your money to doing something that clearly achieves your business goals. Don’t be afraid to stop advertising and regroup. There are many other effective restaurant marketing strategies that are just as much, or more effective than advertising.