As social media and online advertising become more intuitive, it’s easy for a restaurant to forget the value of traditional street marketing.
Not every customer that walks into your restaurant has heard about it through digital marketing. 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.
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 stay fresh. But you cannot just buy one and expect it to bring in hordes of customers. You need to 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. This 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 in the summer of 2017. When flexing your creativity, it’s important to know your audience. Make sure not to alienate existing loyal customers with off brand humor.
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 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 well 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, such as signing into the WiFi. If the food 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. They will appreciate the local outreach of street marketing. By utilizing some of these techniques your restaurant will benefit from a varied marketing approach.
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