Free Targeted Advertising | Brand Education for Restaurants

Free. I got your attention didn’t I, who doesn’t love something free. You know what is even better than free? Free TARGETED advertising. Free is nice and all but a relevant message to your target audience is even better. Everyone loves to get excited about mass media and the potential numbers that can be reached. How about talking to your target audience that also happens to be a current customer? What a great way to reinforce your brand. Check out this example I found at Penn Station East Coast Subs. If you have ever been there you know that they are known for their fresh squeezed lemonade and fresh cut french fries.

Talk about making lemonade out of lemons…literally.

There are mediums that are great for retargeting current customers such as direct mall, email blast, reward programs but all of these communications take place once your customer has left your location. Wouldn’t it be great to reach your customer while they are still interacting with your brand?

Why not use in-store advertising?

You already own the walls, tables, windows, placemats, ceilings, floors, uniforms, etc. so let’s take advantage of that expensive real estate that you already own. Let’s assume for the moment that you are doing everything right at your restaurant. You have food that far exceeds customer expectations. Your service is solid. You have a great location and strong traffic. You have a loyal fan base that loves your brand. So what is holding you back from extending your brand messaging to in-store signage and maximizing opportunities for repeat visitors? And just in case you are not doing the above well, you need this even more.

It should be your goal to turn a Pete into a repeat. This is why you build a brand, you want a loyal following that is looking for any excuse to come back again.

I think Zoe’s Kitchen wants us to like them on Facebook.

  1. So go ahead and promote the newest culinary creation. 
  2. Tell your customers that you have a new location. 
  3. Remind them that Tuesday is 2 for 1 tacos. 
  4. Invite them to like you on Facebook. See Zoe’s Kitchen example—->
  5. Hey, why not encourage them to make that meal a combo. 
  6. Sounds like a good idea to suggest that they buy gift cards for graduation, Mother’s Day or Administrative Appreciation Day.

Some like to call this suggestive selling. Or up selling. Today let’s call this being smart and attentive marketers. Restaurants work way too hard at getting customers to walk in the door to not take advantage of a captured audience.

Here are 10 tips and suggestions to follow:

  1. Stay on BRAND
  2. Be relevant and informative
  3. Keep it simple
  4. Use pictures or images to allow for a quick read
  5. Keep in mind where the message is being communicated
  6. Clever is good
  7. Include a call-to-action (unless it is general branding)
  8. Be timely and seasonal
  9. Keep it fresh (change out the messaging and artwork)
  10. Don’t fall in love with your logo

Allow me a moment to share a frustration regarding the last bullet point. If you are placing messaging in your restaurant  and talking to a customer who is already in your restaurant do you need to remind them REALLY BIG who you are…over and over again? This is a topic that I can spend far too many words on, I digress but please do not use valuable real estate to make your logo larger. Perhaps it is not necessary to use that logo at all. If your customer doesn’t know who you are or where they currently are standing then it is a toss-up between which one of you is in worse shape. Just saying.

OK, now tell me where some of this great free targeted advertising can go:

  • – Your interior and exterior walls and doors
  • – Lawn signs or sandwich boards
  • – Your employees: Shirts, Hats, Aprons, Buttons, etc.
  • – Tables: from placemats to tent cards and even the tables and chairs themselves
  • – Your menu ex: Check-in on foursquare or follow us on Twitter
  • – Ceilings and Floors
  • – Counter Tops, Restrooms and Waiting Areas

There are no shortage of places that you can add a fun message. Ever look around your drink cup or inside the wrapper of a burrito?

Don’t be afraid to test a newer medium like QR codes? Check out this example below (sorry about the quality and just ignore the dude in the reflection). This one caught my attention and I wanted to share the creativeness of this poster. In case you are curious I found this outside of a Johnston & Murphy, which is not a restaurant but rather a shoe and apparel company. I love how they are extending their service by assisting their customers in how to better care for their shoes (a recent purchase of course).

A great way to extend customer support is by offering help. I found this sign while walking past the store front. Cool use of QR codes.

This day and age we are all inundated with way too much advertising. We are so tired of it that we reject it on a daily basis. Know anyone who fast forwards through commercials on their DVR or get annoyed with pop-up ads on websites. Does anyone actually listen to radio spots? Or the radio for that matter? We try hard to avoid paid advertising. The next time that you feel like delivering a message to your current customer, choose the free kind. Calculate the ROI on that.

How are you using in-store signage? Are you communicating with guests while they are in your restaurant? Have you ever been swayed during your visit to a restaurant?

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