Is Traditional Restaurant Advertising Right for My Business?

Traditional Restaurant Advertising Image

You’ve probably already figured out that you can’t just build a restaurant and assume people will come busting down your door to try out your food. If they do… bonus! But odds are good it’s going to take promotion for the word to get out. When you think of advertising, does your mind automatically go straight to TV, radio and print ads? You’re not alone. But… if you stop there with your idea of restaurant advertising, you could be limiting your exposure.

How do you know which are the best restaurant marketing tactics to start growing your customer base? Follow these steps to help you decide which restaurant advertising campaign is best.

First, Create a Plan

Before you invest money in any advertising, it’s crucial that you take a step back and think about a few things. At IndoorMedia, we always like to begin with the end in mind. i.e., determine what you want the result to be, so that you can create a plan that leads you there. Ask questions like:

  • What are my main objectives? Obviously, one of the main goals is to grow your profits, but we can be even more specific.  Do you want to increase sales of a particular menu item? Are you trying to fill the house during certain times of the day? Having a firm grasp on this will help you identify which advertising methods can help you achieve this goal.
  • Who is my audience? To get new customers in the door, start by evaluating who your existing customers are. Families with young kids? Older millennials? Tourists just passing through? Knowing who you want to target with your ads will help you choose the advertising that gets your message to them.
  • Where is my audience? Once you’ve identified the kind of people you want to target, you can figure out where they’re coming from. Based on our experience, the people who eat at your restaurant are going to live within just a few miles. The best way to find out if this is true? Just ask!
  • How much should I spend? You might think the obvious answer is, “As little as possible.” But that response avoids the true nature of advertising; it’s an investment. If you knew for a fact that you could spend $20 and get a $100 in return, how many $100 bills would you buy? An infinite amount, I’m sure! And I’m sure you would do the same if you could spend $4,000 and get $20,000 in return.
  • What is my timeline? No advertising produces immediate results. However, each method works on a different timeline. Some may generate an influx of new customers over one weekend while others create a steadier stream over a more extended time. Use your main objective to determine an appropriate timeline.

Once you’ve taken time to ponder these questions, take all your answers and convert them into a SMART goal. Smart goals help you create a clear, actionable plan and can act as a guidepost when measuring success. Here’s an example of a great SMART goal:

Within the next 12 months, we will increase profits by 25% through new customer sales of families with kids who live within 5 miles.

Check out our Ultimate Guide to Restaurant Marketing that walks you through creating a marketing strategy to bring in new customers. 

Second, Compare Your Options

There are a lot of restaurant marketing ideas out there. Where do you even begin when it’s time to compare and choose? Every method has different features and expected results, so how do you know which one is right for your restaurant?

We created RATE, a framework for evaluating all types of advertising on common ground. RATE stands for:

  • Repetition: How often will people see your ad?
  • Appeal: What will entice people to eat at your restaurant?
  • Targeting: Does your ad reach the right people?
  • Exposure: Will your ad actually be seen?·

To compare, create a spreadsheet with a column for each element of RATE, along with cost and time. Here’s an example:

Cost Time Repetition Appeal Targeting Exposure
Receipt Coupons $4,000 Per Year 1-2 x per Week Full-Color Ad w/Coupon Discount ~ 20K shoppers per week within 3-5 miles Placed directly into the shopper’s hands
Newspaper $4,620 One Time 1 x per Month Black & White Ad in Sunday Paper 318,085 Readers Placed on the driveway or in mailboxes
Radio $3,500 Per Week 5 Spots Audio Only, Must be Memorable 2+ Million Listeners, Adults 25-54 30 Second Air Time per Spot
Flyers $1,750 One Time 20,000 Flyers Full-Color 8.5” x 11” Paper Whoever happens to see them Car windows, apartment doors, mailboxes, etc.

Third, Put It All Together

So you’ve put all your options into the RATE framework, and now we need to do some analysis to determine which one is right for your restaurant. Let’s go back to your SMART goal:

Within the next 12 months, we will increase profits by 25% through new customer sales of families with kids who live within 5 miles.

How does Radio advertising RATE?

  • Reaches your target audience plus people outside of it
  • 30 seconds of airtime has to be incredibly appealing to motivate them to eat at your restaurant
  • Exposure and repetition depend solely on if they are tuned in when the ad plays

For $3,500 per week, how many customers would you need to generate to get a return on your investment? Would it be enough to increase your profits by 25%?

Now let’s compare that to grocery receipt advertising.

  • Reaches only the people in your target audience
  • Coupon offers give mom & dad a reason to choose your restaurant
  • Receipts are placed directly in their hands every time they checkout, which tends to be 1-2 times per week

At $4,000, you would need to generate roughly the same number of customers as you would for the radio campaign. However, that $4K produces advertising that lasts for the entire year instead of just one week. It is much likelier that this method of advertising would bring in customers month after month, leading to your goal of a 25% increase in profits.

As you can see, there is no “right” answer. All advertising works in some way; the key is to find the one that produces the best results for the most affordable cost, helping you achieve your goals.

Interested in how grocery store coupon advertising can work for your restaurant? Learn more.

download the complete guide to coupon advertising

Finding the best ways to advertise in your local area is key to driving new customers through the door every single day. Learn more about some of the top restaurant marketing tactics and how to apply them to your restaurant.

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