Guest Post: I asked longtime friend, Justin Campana who works for JCDecaux North America, the largest out-of-home media company in the world to offer perspective on the state of advertising and how restaurants should act accordingly.
I am a firm believer that every business, no matter how big or small, should advertise. And obviously it is incumbent upon the people in an organization responsible for marketing to use the resources set aside for advertising in the best way possible.
The question every marketing manager should ask themselves on a daily basis is, “Am I buying the right mix of media in order to most effectively influence our current and potential customers?”
As an account executive for an Out of Home advertising company, my attitude is one that can be summed up best as “advertise at all costs!”. My ideal kind of clients are the ones who understand the value of advertising and have a willingness to invest in their business no matter what the overall economic climate may be.
Obviously for business owners and managers of mid-level companies, that kind of approach to marketing is often untenable when faced with real-world limitations; not the least of which is budget and cash-flow.
For restaurants, advertising can be a tricky business. Many times the type of advertising a restaurant employs can brand it as a certain type of establishment. For instance, there are certain restaurants that employ local cable ad buys to most effectively target their customers. There are others that only rely on word-of-mouth and buzz created by the press.
Between television, radio, outdoor, online, and print, there is a medium which suits your business best. But it is often a mixture of some if not all of these mediums which yields the best results as far as getting customers engaged and in the mood to buy what that business is selling.
Nearly all restaurants are already utilizing outdoor media to influence potential customers. It is the rare establishment that doesn’t at least have a sign on the door telling people that they are at the right place (and those that are too snooty or progressive to have signage must be doing some incredible marketing in other ways to let people know where they are). Others use sandwich boards on the sidewalk to advertise specials or highlight the best that they have to offer (“Two for One Appetizers!” “Live Music!”).
Directional signage can also be a great way to drive customers to your restaurant.
An outdoor sign at a nearby major intersection can be a great influence on patrons, especially if it is located in an area with competing establishments. And in this day and age of smartphones with cameras, QR code readers, and NFC (Near Field Communication) capabilities, outdoor ads offer the ability to instantly provide customers with the impetus to visit your establishment.
Two examples of copy:
- “Take a picture of this ad and show it to your server for a free appetizer.”
- “Scan this code with your smartphone to discover our daily specials.”
Not only have you now engaged the consumer, but you have given them a reason to come into your restaurant and a way for you to track who has seen and interacted with your ad.
It is instant, trackable ROI!
How about a Combo?
The combination of radio and outdoor can be very effective at reinforcing a marketing message. When a potential customer hears a radio spot or sponsorship on their favorite station while in their car and then sees an outdoor ad for that same business it measurably increases recall and associates that business with a positive influencer in their day-to-day life.
Print and outdoor can have the same effect. A commuter on the bus or train reading their morning paper and seeing ads for a business in both mediums will be more likely to remember that marketing effort. However, the creative must not only be memorable but it has to convey the right message to the right person. If your ad doesn’t paint your establishment in the most attractive way possible, no matter how many times the potential consumer sees those ads or in how many mediums, the likelihood that they will become an actual customer will remain low.
As with perfecting recipes, sometimes it takes some time and experimentation to find the right mix of ad mediums to bring in a steady flow of new customers. Consider this process Research & Development. And whenever possible, try to utilize tracking methods in order to determine which ad placements were most effective. This can be as simple as the tried and true method of having servers ask your customers if they have dined with you before, and if not how they heard of your establishment. Eventually, the results will speak for themselves.
What media mix are you using for your restaurant? Are you tracking redemptions?