Marketing a Restaurant – Keys to Effective Restaurant Advertising

A warning about restaurant advertising: it can be effective, but like all restaurant marketing activities it must be applied in the right way. Big image building campaigns are for the big restaurants that already have an image. And be wary of all of those ad sales reps that come begging for your restaurant marketing budget to put an ad in another guide or newspaper. Keep this mantra 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, not just acknowledge it with a nod. And that means you must 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 diner exactly what to do. For every piece of publicity, whether an ad, the yellow pages or an email, you must ask them to contact you, make a reservation, come to your restaurant, refer you or act in some way. Otherwise it’s a waste of marketing money and you’d be better off not doing it.
Make sure to follow these guidelines for all restaurant advertising and direct mail (postcards, flyers, etc):
1. Your restaurant ad must be in a publication or place that is targeted to your customer profiles.
2. It must have a strong headline that clearly shows the benefit to the reader. What is the biggest benefit that you can give to your customer? Identify it and then put it in your headline.
3. 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 champagne.’ Your offer should be compelling enough that the reader says to himself ‘Why wouldn’t I do this? What do I have to lose?’
4. Make your restaurant ad look like news or an ‘advertorial’ rather than a traditional ad for more credibility.
5. 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.
6. Have a clear call to action that tells the person exactly what to do. “Call 222-222-2222 for a reservation.” “Book now, spaces are limited.” Add an expiry date to any offer, which will create a sense of urgency and encourage people to act.
7. 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.
8. 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 advertising activity 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.