Making sure that restaurant advertising works is one of those things that our members want us to help them with immediately. They always come to us skeptical about marketing in general because of all of the money they’ve spent on advertising and for, well, really no results at all. And we understand that skepticism. But lets first get two things straight: a) restaurant marketing isn’t just about advertising. Actually advertising is just one of a multitude of restaurant marketing activities, and is often the least efficient b) restaurant advertising can be a good thing, but only if it’s done well.
A warning about 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.
Tracking and measuring your restaurant marketing
Before you even start, keep one thing in mind – 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.
8 keys for all restaurant marketing advertising campaigns
Make sure to follow these guidelines for all restaurant advertising and direct mail campaigns (postcards, flyers, etc):
- Your restaurant ad must be in a publication or place that is targeted to your customer profiles.
- 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.
- 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?’
- Make your restaurant ad look like news or an ‘advertorial’ rather than a traditional ad for more credibility.
- 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 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.
- Overcome skepticism. 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 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. Check out my article in Restaurant Hospitality magazine, ‘Nine Keys to Effective Restaurant Ads’
Two essential parts of an effective restaurant advertisement
While there are many parts to an advertisement which is actually going to move the needle for you, there are a few essential pieces that you just can’t afford to get wrong.
A good headline
You have just a few seconds to grab your reader’s attention. To do that, you must be speaking the reader’s language and be able to quickly and clearly show the benefit of your restaurant. What is the best thing that you can give to your customer? Figure out what it is, and then make it your headline.
Try any of these in your next restaurant advertisement and see what a difference the right headline for your restaurant publicity can make:
You’ll love your meal, or it’s free.
Are you tired of cooking and then doing the dishes?
How to wow your next date.
How to wow women.
Local small restaurant successful despite national chains.
Free dinner when you eat with us.
Your lunch is on us.
Who else wants a free lunch?
London’s best pizza or it’s free.
Do you fight over who is going to do the dishes?
You’ll be delighted with your meal, or it’s free.
How to end marriage problems
Do you fight over cooking and cleaning up?
3 ways to stop fighting.
Free dinner, no strings attached.
How to make your children sit down at the table.
Free dessert for kids.
A call to action in any restaurant advertising
It seems like such an insignificant thing a ‘call to action’, so why is it so important to make your restaurant advertising effective? Well, firstly, what do we mean exactly by a ‘call to action’? Basically we mean telling the customer what you want them to do. EXACTLY what you want them to do. And while it may seem blatantly obvious to you what you need the customer to do, it isn’t always to the customer. If you don’t ask them for something, and tell them exactly how to do it, you are wasting a precious opportunity to make the customer follow through on your restaurant marketing campaign. Call to actions are phrases like ‘Click here to reserve’, ‘Call now to make a reservation’, or ‘Book your seat today’. Just consider that your restaurant customer is a bit simple and that you need to hold their hand and practically click, dial or pick up the phone for them. If you already have a restaurant advertisement in place without a call to action, I suggest you add one and see the difference in your results. Or, if you are creating restaurant publicity now, then make sure that this is on the ‘must have’ items for your ad. Make sure to have a look at our restaurant ad templates in the Win Win Restaurant Marketing Library to get an idea of the types of call to actions that have got the best results getting customers in the door of our clients’ restaurants.
An example of what to do and not to do for a successful restaurant advertisement
We all know that it’s a good idea to listen to your staff, but sometimes I think we forget that since they are in the thick of it they more than likely have some great ideas (probably even better than yours!). I, for one, am also guilty of this. And so, when one of my staff said, ‘Hey, we need to shake up the blog some. We have so many great examples of both bad and good restaurant advertising, why don’t we just post one of them to really show restaurant owners what we are talking about?’ GREAT idea. So without further ado, have a look at this example of what to do and not to do with your next restaurant advertisement.
Have a great example yourself of successful restaurant marketing? Then post it on our Facebook page and let us all have a look.
In this restaurant advertisement they have used their logo as the headline – this is an all too common mistake. Grab your reader’s eye with an offer they just can’t refuse, not yet another logo that is ignored like all the other logos that mean more to the business owner than the customer. And make sure there is a way to track the advertisement to see if it has been effective or not. Tell the customer has to bring in a coupon or mention the offer when reserving. What’s the point of spending your restaurant marketing money if it’s not an effective spend? Make sure you can judge what brings in more restaurant customers so you can do more of it, and what doesn’t so you can stop wasting money on it.
Put the foundations in place for a restaurant advertising campaign that gets new customers
As a restaurant owner, make sure that you have the foundations in place and are carrying out the basic restaurant marketing actions, such as a referral program, a ‘keep ’em coming back’ program as well as menu management, the right pricing and great customer service program. These are essential restaurant marketing programs that will help you increase your restaurant’s profits immediately.
Secondly, if you want to do effective restaurant advertising and promotions, make sure that you are doing them correctly. Among other things: have a compelling headline ( your restaurant name or logo is not a compelling headline), have a call to action, have some sort of offer and put the value of the offer clearly in the restaurant advertisement. The difference between a few key rules applied to your restaurant advertising can mean the difference between a return on your money of 0 or 100%. Why not join our free trial and use one of the many done – for – you templates of restaurant advertisements in our Win Win Restaurant Marketing System.