5 Traditional Ways to Promote Your Restaurant Locally

Restaurant Promotion

Local promotion could now mean text marketing.

What is marketing? It is basically anything you do to promote and grow your restaurant.  (tweet this)  In the 21st century, two options exist for spending your marketing dollars: traditional and digital advertising.

While digital marketing is the trend, many people ask the question, “Is there still a place for traditional advertising and promotions?” According to Forbes, the answer is yes. The key to spending your marketing dollars wisely is understanding your target market and meeting them where they are.

Traditional marketing encompasses direct sales, TV, radio, mail, print advertising (think magazines, coupon books, billboards, newspaper, flyers, etc.) and printed promotional materials.

What are the pros of traditional marketing?

Traditional marketing is a superb way to reach your local target markets. Traditional marketing offers your restaurant customer something tangible. It may be a printed material they bring to you for redemption, or a take home menu.

Person-to-person selling, or direct selling is an effective way to market your restaurant. In fact, direct selling can piggyback on your digital marketing for the biggest return on your dollar.

You might be wondering which method is better – traditional or Internet. The key is to find a balance between the two methods. Do you need a website? Absolutely. Do you need a social media presence? You bet. You also need locally-based traditional promotions to grow your business. Today’s marketers often recommend spending 80% of your budget on digital marketing and 20% on traditional marketing.

How do you spend that 20% on traditional marketing? In this blog post, we’ll discuss five traditional advertising options to promote your restaurant locally.

Everyone Wants a Winner

So, you have a new summertime menu, and you’d like to get the word out. You send a traditional press release to your local newspaper, radio and television stations. It falls flat, and no one promotes your new menu.

Let’s talk about a unique, newsworthy way to get the word out – consider a publicity stunt. Construct your “stunt” well, and the positive, free exposure for your restaurant will bring in many new and returning diners.

Consider the celebrity cook-off. Invite local radio and television personalities to create their favorite summertime recipes at your restaurant. Send out invitations to your customers (if you haven’t started collecting addresses and emails, do so now!) inviting them to attend the grand event. The celebrities are sure to publicize it on their channels and stations, too. Once the celebrities have cooked their favorite meals in front of a live audience at your restaurant, have your customers vote on their favorite. Once the favorite is chosen, add it to your menu and give it a creative name that features the celebrity.

Everyone wants to eat their favorite local celebrity’s creation. You’ll ride the wave of this relatively inexpensive publicity stunt all summer long

Another publicity stunt idea includes a Girl Scout Cookie desert recipe contest. Invite your customers (or local celebrities) to create a desert using Girl Scout Cookies as the main ingredient. Create an event similar to the one mentioned above. This event will attract adults and children alike, again increasing your exposure and inviting potential customers in the door.

With the publicity stunt, you utilize traditional marketing venues such as radio, TV and newspaper.

Restaurant Local Promotion

Embrace the things that make your restaurant unique.

Business People Like to Socialize

Business people like to get together and network. Pick an area business to partner with and use their resources to promote your restaurant. This capitalizes on the direct selling, relationship building method of traditional marketing.

Choose your partner business wisely. Make sure they fit your target and your restaurant concept. (tweet this)

Target your core audience and host a monthly social where your food takes center stage. Introduce new menu offerings, highlight desserts or appetizers. Choose something different to feature each month. Invite the local news media and local magazines to attend. Print media outlets are often looking for photographs to feature each month in their “About Town” and “Local Faces” pages.

Some other ideas for partnership events include:

  • Wine tastings are a great way to get business in your door during slow times. Great for large or small groups, these are very popular because people love good wine and good food.
  • Beer tastings are similar to wine tastings, but may involve a different target audience. Sell tickets for the beer tasting that also includes food.

Don’t forget to visit the businesses in your neighborhood. These workers are potential lunchtime customers. Make a special visit to each one. The personal approach is important to get buy-in from office mangers. Leave a flyer with your restaurant’s offer.

Comeback Coupons Entice Return Customers

Leverage traditional print media and encourage frequent return visits from your customer pool. This underutilized tool encourages loyalty and increases business. Decide on your promotion and print coupons for customers.

For example, you have a huge dinner crowd, but your new breakfast time isn’t doing so well. Offer your dinner diners a comeback coupon for breakfast. Make sure to test your offers and see which ones are working. This is fairly simple to do since they’ll return your coupon to you.

The Birthday Customer Waits for an Invite

Did you know that 50% of Americans eat out on their birthday? These customers are easy targets; they are just waiting for an invite. If you don’t have a birthday program, it’s now time to start one. Capture your share of the available birthday market and increase customer loyalty at the same time.

You want to be “that” restaurant – you know the one – the restaurant people can’t wait to go to for their special day. Why not offer them a special discount on their birthday? It could be something small, like dessert, or even a full meal for the birthday guest.

To have a birthday program, you’ll have to collect diner’s physical and/or email addresses as well as birthday info. You can use traditional media such as a postcard for the birthday program, or you can go the digital, email route. If you are opting for the traditional print route, consider cloaking your birthday gift in a traditional birthday card. People love to get birthday cards in the mail, and what’s better than one with a gift inside!

This traditional form of marketing promotes your restaurant locally and encourages customer loyalty, especially when they choose your restaurant for the birthday dinner.

Contests Encourage Repeat Business

Keep your customer engaged – offer contests and promotions with prizes. Here are a few ideas to encourage dining frequency and menu exploration.

  • Menu Bingo: Create bingo cards with different menu items in each of the boxes. The size of the card depends on the size of your menu (don’t go bigger than five columns/five rows). Give your customers the bingo card and tell them they have a certain time frame to complete the card. Have your wait staff mark the card (with a special marking) each time they purchase an item on the card. Once they try five items in any direction, give them their free incentive.
  • Name Day: Pick a person’s name one day a month, and when a person with that name comes in, they eat free that day, get a free dessert, drink or appetizer.
  • Name our New Menu Item: Feature your new menu item, and when diners try it, offer them the chance to name it. Once you’ve picked a name, offer the winning customer an incentive.

When it comes to traditional ways to promote your restaurant locally, be creative, make sure your marketing aligns with your brand and experiment with different ways. There is still a place for traditional restaurant promotions in the digital age as long as you find your restaurant’s ideal balance.

What traditional marketing strategy has been most effective for your restaurant? Let us know by leaving a comment!

Images: John & Jun Sieta

3 responses to “5 Traditional Ways to Promote Your Restaurant Locally”

  1. My wife and I are just starting out with our own ethnic food restaurant here in Nigeria. We find this article most helpful and we look forward to adapting some of the ideas here to our circumstances.

  2. Elizabeth says:

    This is definately awesome ideas….and i believe works perfectly well….
    I am an event organizer….thinking of helping to promote some restaurants…
    Thank you for sharing

  3. Jeff Ogden says:

    This is a great article on how to market a local restaurant, like the ones in St. Petersburg, Florida. Thanks for sharing it,

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