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Do you use Guerrilla Marketing to promote your restaurant? It’s an effective way to gain exposure and give an advantage to small business owners with tight marketing budgets. It just takes some creativity to form unconventional and low-cost marketing aimed at obtaining maximum exposure — online and off.
Thirty years ago the best practices included printing flyers, getting a billboard over the local highway and hoping for good word of mouth. But today there are extensive forms of marketing that leads to the question, which is the best strategy to use?
…The soul and essence of guerrilla marketing which remain as always — achieving conventional goals, such as profits and joy, with unconventional methods, investing energy instead of money.” — Jay Conrad Levinson Source
Historically, it was Jay Conrad Levinson that introduced the concept in the mid 1980’s and the name originates from guerrilla welfare — untraditional fighting tactics used in army battles. Some food for thought.
Now with a little background, let’s look at some examples.
Online promotions have become a focal point for most establishments. It is the easiest form of marketing that reaches a larger audience and covers all the criteria for guerrilla marketing.
- 360° Videos:
One crazy video technique that really got my attention is the 360° videos. Let us say the majority of your market base is using smartphones (which is most likely true) this would be a great idea to get a virtual tour before they even step foot into your restaurant. I hope this isn’t a fad as there is some great potential here.
Check out the video below; press play and view the room 360° around you. Note: this feature can only be used on hand-held devices.
Awesome, right!?!?! Maybe I just have a soft spot for new techy stuff.
Just putting this out there but the CN Tower Restaurant should really consider using this as a marketing piece — the restaurant is called 360° after all. Fitting, no?
Proven by the rapid adoption of the medium, online video is no longer seen as experimental – it delivers proven ROI and effective brand reach to Canadian advertisers set to take the leap and reap the rewards.’ Source
Home-made and amateur videos can be a good marketing incentive as they’ve begun to gain an advantage and are considered one of 2016’s top marketing methods. Sharing content, tutorials or experiences on video channels like Youtube and Vimeo can help increase engagement and help drive customers to your website, it doesn’t have to be over-the-top professional. Keep in mind once you post to youtube it will help Google rankings for your website. Click here to see some great food vloggers that may spark your inspiration. My personal favourite SortedFood a few food nerds who are entertaining and engage well with their customers.
- Tinder (whaaaaa???):
Tinder being one of many popular apps that the younger generations are on (spoken like a Baba) is becoming a great new marketing strategy – apparently. I first heard about it on a new podcast called Road Rash; a bunch of bar-guys talking about the food and bar industry. This gave a me a few laughs to say the least. In episode one they talk about Tinder being a great form of marketing. This got me looking up Tinder guerrilla marketing and I surprisingly found a few good examples. So that said, look into trending apps to gain maximum exposure, and be creative with it.
- Social Media:
Social media is nothing new, although 2015 was deemed the year of consumer-driven content. I can only see this becoming more so effective in the coming years. Social campaigns can surely be a mainstream part of your marketing plan since it won’t be going anywhere, anytime soon. Just be sure to consider timing and strategize your written content. A classic example: Hey @Pharrell, can we have our hat back? #GRAMMYS
Pop-ups in the restaurant scene seem to be a marketing advantage. Whether in parks, plazas, galleries and/or warehouses they can be a fun way to test the waters. A recent example is Quaker’s new breakfast pop-up stand. This created a lot of hype on social media.
One person who knows a lot about pop-ups is Ludo who seems to have made a career out of the pop-up experience. Pop-ups generally run for a limited time, carry a limited quantity and are usually advertised only on social media.
Use these examples to inspire your own pop-up. Set up a barbecue in High Park and advertise with incentives or offer something for free and you’ll be sure to have a lineup of customers.
- Info & Newsletters:
Although common, email campaigns can be taken to another level and featured as a guerrilla campaign. For example, if people sign up for the newsletter they’ll receive a free e-cookbook with recipes they can try at home.
Offline promotions are a great way to engage customers with your marketing campaigns, making the experience more personal and interactive.
- Use events to your advantage:
Marketing events are becoming pretty much mainstream. Marketers have perfected this by grabbing your emotions associated with the experience and tying it in with brand recognition.
So take a page out of their book.
Once a month, bimonthly; whatever you feel is suitable, you can close your restaurant to host an ‘invite only’ event during off hours. I’ve talked about exclusivity before which is very effective. You can also use this as an opportunity to introduce new menu items or beverages that people can try. Even invite guests to tweet for feedback. Cooking classes, shucking lessons or fry eating competitions, what ever your customers fancy.
Embrace local food festivals. Toronto alone has annual events like; Taste of the Danforth, or the Roncesvalles Polish Festival. Use them to your advantage as they have heavily concentrated streets. Flash mob anyone?
It has been proven people are more satisfied with experiences vs. tangible objects. A newer buzz term; ‘Experiential Marketing’ is made to create a bond between a brand and the memorable experience associated with it. A well known example is when Redbull Sponsored the Stratos Jump. Sadly, it is very hard to track your ROI.
Create buzz, excitement and encourage word of mouth marketing through the experiences your customers have. After all, experiences are a great form of guerrilla marketing.
- Print is not Dead:
Papa Johns, a restaurant that is no stranger to guerrilla marketing produced a peephole sticker. Personally, if I saw this I would wish there really was a pizza guy on the other side of the door.
Another classic example for print; go to the local book store or library and put your business cards into cookbooks that are relative to your restaurant or business. Or use good ol’ sticky notes with hand-written content. Putting them on cars, bus seats, books, grocery store carts you name it. Write: Tonight – Order in (place name of restaurant here)’ with a phone number and website. Could catch someones eye.
- Free for buzz:
Anyone who went dressed as a burrito to a Chipotle store during Halloween would receive a free burrito. I am sure they got enough user generated content marketing in exchange for the product given away. Although now the campaign is 3$ burritos, which doesn’t seem as effective. But hey, it got people talking.
- Larger companies / Bigger budgets:
When a larger brand has an idea for guerrilla marketing with a massive budget, it makes me question; does it still apply? Non the less it is unconventional.
Do you remember when Molson Canadian produced a beer fridge? Inviting Canadians to scan their passport in international cities to open the beer fridge. So clever and so much buzz.
- Do-Good Incentives:
Marketing for a charitable cause is a great way to promote the humble and kind-hearted side of your brand. Although not food related, a great example of this is Herokid’s “Skate Your Problems” a touching social campaign aimed at helping children who are living in risk of social exclusion.
Even think of sponsoring an event, doing charity work or donate consistently on behalf of your restaurant. It’s good ethos!
- Street Art:
Street art is always creative and gets a lot of attention. Burger King did an award winning campaign called #WTFF: What the French Fry. Burger King took over New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. Leaving huge wavy fries to promote their new “Satisfries” (reduced-fat fries).
Doritos did an award winning night projections campaign that also gained a lot of coverage.
McDonalds painted yellow street crossings (with permission I am sure) to mock their fries. Simple and smart. Banksy may not be avilable for hire but there is some clever street art that can inspire something of your own.
Keep in mind there are always going to be fads and trends in any marketing realm. QR codes, photo booths and charging stations are fading out. Although as they say, history does repeat itself.
How does this saucy-one sound? Advertising an Oyster Bar? Rent a basic hotel room with a recording of subtle moaning playing inside the hotel room (cheeky, but nothing outrageously loud). Then place a ‘do not disturb’ sign on the door stating; ‘The perfect aphrodisiac’ with your restaurant logo. Oyster restaurants: you are more than welcome to take this one! Might not be the classiest, but will definitely get people talking — I digress.
Consider the new stream of clientele you are marketing towards; millennials. They are starting to populate the mainstream demographic and are a generation that have been brought up on cellphones, tablets and technology at large. They are socially in-tuned and react to attention grabbing marketing. Be sure to establish what their needs are if you want them to be advocates of your brand.
I leave you with this: brainstorm, be creative and think outside the box. Be fearless while being lawful and considerate. Guerrilla marketing is about exploring creative outputs and developing campaigns that are memorable and create buzz — not break the bank.
A great resource that helped me put this post together is: Creative Guerrilla Marketing. I recommend visiting the site for some great inspiration.
Avid Creative is a graphic design studio specializing in creative services for restaurateurs and businesses in hospitality. If you would like a quote or have questions please get in touch today! Read the stories that inspired Avid Creative. Or keep in touch through the Avid Creative Newsletter.