As social media and online advertising become more intuitive, it’s easy for a restaurant to forget the value of traditional marketing.
Not every customer that walks into your restaurant has heard about it on Instagram, many simply walk-in from the street. But with so many storefronts, it is easy to get lost in the noise. However, with some attention to detail, your offline marketing can be just as effective as your online presence. Here are the most effective ways to bring potential customers from the street into your business.
However, with some attention to detail, your offline marketing can be just as effective as your online presence. Here are the most effective ways to bring potential customers from the street into your business.
Utilize adaptable signage
You have probably noticed the recent explosion of chalkboard sidewalk signs, and for good reason. The ability to constantly change the sign gives the opportunity to remain relevant while staying fresh. But you cannot just buy one and expect it to bring in hordes of customers unless you know how to take advantage of its flexibility.
Keep it simple. The more words you use the smaller they are, and the more difficult it is to read for people walking by. 10 words is a good limit, as it can be digested quickly by those passing, which allows even some drivers the opportunity to take it all in.
Your message does not need to be a call-to-action. That is to say that promoting a deal is not the only way to grab attention. Humor can often resonate more with readers, whether it is self-deprecating or a cheesy food-pun. Take advantage of topical trends, as many restaurants did when they discovered they were “PokéStops” when Pokémon Go exploded last summer. When flexing your creativity, the only hard-and-fast rule is to truly know your audience, and that includes existing loyal customers you don’t want to alienate.
Don’t just say it, show it
No matter how clever a sign, if the storefront it is promoting is not visually appealing, it may not matter. The old fashion rule of sitting patrons close to the window is not the only way to spice up your storefront.
Window space can be better used to show off your food and let it do the talking. Display an actual plate of the daily special or even highlight food preparation as the finishing touches are added to a dish. Sometimes the layout or menu of a restaurant can make food displays difficult. However, the opportunity to put your brand on display can be done by drawing attention to key pieces of décor.
Regardless of what you choose to put on display, remember the value of window space and its ability to give people walking by a sneak peek into your restaurant. Slapping a sign for a special may work for a fast-food joint, but it could seriously harm the atmosphere of your restaurant’s unique brand.
Having an employee dress up in an eye-catching costume and waving a sign may seem desperate, but if done cleverly can be very effective. Follow the same guidelines as your signage when it comes to humor. The costume could be satirical or self-deprecating, and that could appeal to certain customers. If the right person is out there communicating the message, it doesn’t matter as much what they are wearing. A giant ice cream cone directing traffic into your dessert café can lean on the getup as a conversation starter at the very least. It may not be suitable for high-end establishments, but trendy specialty shops could make that initial connection with some playful conversation.
The more conservative, and expensive alternative is to have the same enthusiastic employees offer free samples to people passing by. Pair each sample with a coupon that acts as a call-to-action to get them back into your store. If the product is good, get it into people’s hands and they could become regulars. Just like the more aggressive costume approach, put forth your more personable employees to build rapport. This is a no-brainer for new establishments and also useful method of promoting special events or new menu items.
The potential to reach global audiences that online marketing provides makes it easy to forget the value of local outreach. As tech-savvy as a restaurant may be, many customers may not share the same enthusiasm for social media and appreciate the local outreach of street marketing. By utilizing some of these techniques your restaurant will benefit from a varied marketing approach.