Traditional and Guerrilla Marketing Ideas for Your Restaurant

Creative and Affordable Restaurant Marketing Ideas

Posted by Michael Elkins the 6 February 2018

There are three common ways that restaurateurs market their businesses: traditional marketing, digital promotions and guerrilla marketing. In this article, you’ll find some tips about traditional and guerrilla marketing. Digital promotions are covered in this other article.

Traditional Marketing Ideas for Restaurants

Many experts suggest that there is little value in traditional marketing for today’s connected restaurants, but that’s simply not true. Marketing can be defined as anything that you do to grow your restaurant business. That includes preparing great food and providing personal service. Traditional advertising works well for both restaurant and bar marketing. Depending on your restaurant concept, traditional marketing can be more effective than digital advertising. For example, the following are some traditional marketing ideas that can deliver solid results:

  • Creating Flyers

    In-house flyers are an ideal way to promote new menu items and special events. All you need to do is write up your description and make copies. You can leave them on your counter, and customers will pick them up and respond to your message. These flyers can also be distributed outside, placed on car windshields and distributed to neighborhood homes in any area that you want to target.

  • Using Outdoor Signs

    Outdoor signs are great ways to promote your restaurant in your own neighborhood. You can use billboards, bus benches and signs on local buses to build awareness for your restaurant brand.

  • Mailing Ads and Coupons

    Direct mail works well for restaurants that depend heavily on people who live nearby. You can target people by their ZIP codes and buy mailing lists from list brokers and list compilers. However, you can always just compile address lists manually in the neighborhoods you want to reach.

  • Targeting Local Employers

    Local employers often provide a big audience during lunch and after working hours. You can often arrange to promote your food by offering coupons and posting information about your business on the employer’s bulletin board. If you can’t arrange anything with the company, you can pass out flyers during lunch breaks and after each shift ends.

  • Writing Press Releases

    Writing a traditional press release is a great way to promote your restaurant. You can send this information to local newspapers, magazines, radio stations and businesses. It’s important to slant your story so that it appeals to your ideal potential customer. For example, if you’re targeting business people, writing about your meeting rooms is a great idea. If you’re targeting young and trendy singles, you might promote singles events, bar crawls, dances, karaoke and other single-friendly celebrations. If you target the gourmet food crowd, you might write about your culinary philosophy and your chef’s credentials. You should include a link to your website and format your press release in a standardized form. You can find templates for creating a press release here.

  • Distinguishing Your Restaurant

    It’s important to distinguish your restaurant from other eateries in the area. Traditional marketing ideas might include partnering with local businesses to promote holiday, charitable and local events. Service is important, so use traditional outlets to reinforce your marketing message, concept and brand. For example, you might partner with local farms to promote your farm-to-table food supplies. If you sell fast food, working with local schools and colleges is a good way to attract after-school business.

  • Advertising in Local Media

    Local media - such as newspapers, magazines, radio and television - still attract local customers. Older people often respond to these ads more readily than to digital marketing. If you’re trying to reach a hip, urban crowd, ads on local radio stations can target customers precisely. If you are a fine dining establishment, advertising on stations that play classical music can be very effective.

  • Hosting a Grand Opening Event

    Holding a grand opening event is one of the most powerful ways to market your new restaurant.

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Guerrilla Marketing

What is guerrilla marketing? The term refers to unusual and irregular advertising that creates surprise. Examples of guerrilla marketing include wearing costumes, hosting live “events” where crowds gather, using graffiti to promote a business and leaving messages anywhere such as public toilets, theaters and outdoor rallies. Posting flyers and posters on construction sites and leaving coupons at hotels and bus stations are also common guerrilla marketing examples. There are several important considerations when developing a guerrilla marketing campaign for a restaurant:

  • Plan Carefully

    Guerrilla campaigns can backfire. It’s important to get permission to post on city property or abandoned buildings. You can clean up an area, but creating any kind of mess or disorder could land you in hot water.

  • Add Something to the Environment

    One common guerrilla strategy is to add something temporary to a building, statue or fence. Putting artwork on city sidewalks is a great way to attract attention - especially if you display the works of local artists at your restaurant.

  • Leave Signs at Indoor Locations

    You can leave signs, flyers and ads on napkins or paper bags at indoor locations such as shops, train stations, college campuses and stadiums.

  • Use Ambush Techniques

    You can get a lot of mileage with costumes and signature events at concerts, festivals and sporting events.

  • Target Specific Customer Profiles

    Guerrilla advertising can be used to target wine lovers, environmentalists, urban hipsters, students and others.

  • Create “Clean” Graffiti

    Ugly graffiti is common in urban environments, but you can clean up an ugly area by adding artistic graffiti. You’ll need to get permission first, but many landlords prefer clean, artistic graffiti to haphazard scrawling.

Both traditional and guerrilla marketing campaigns can be highly targeted and budget-friendly ways to market your restaurant. You can surprise your guests, engage them where they live and given them a reason to talk about your restaurant. Traditional and guerrilla marketing are ideal for promoting special occasions at your restaurant such as Carnival and Valentine’s Day