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Creative Restaurant Marketing Ideas

The most important part of owning a restaurant is having customers to fill it. That means that people need to hear about you. But how do you stand out from all the other options? And once you stand out, how do you remain memorable? Creative marketing ideas can be difficult to come up with, but they can pay off big when people remember your name.

Here’s how to get started with some creative marketing ideas restaurants can use.

Brainstorming

Every great marketing tactic started out as an idea. Get together with your team and brainstorm what your goals are for your restaurant marketing, and how you want to get there. Rather than just yelling out ideas, try some simple games to spark creativity.

Six thinking hats

Think about the message you want to send through six different lenses: logic, optimism, devil’s advocate, emotion, creativity, and management. Don’t be afraid to exaggerate or take it to the extreme. Each lens can help you deeply explore how you want to express yourself.

Categories

Come up with all of the ideas or messages you want to send, then try to group them together. Come up with as many and as varied categories as you need. Try to keep at least three ideas in each category. Then, think of how each category could be converted to marketing.

SWOT analysis

Write out your business’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Think of ways to use your strengths and opportunities to your advantage. Think of ways to overcome or work around your weaknesses and threats. Don’t forget to consider the competition.

Starbursting

Create a six-pointed star. At each point, write one of the following questions: who, what, where, when, why, how? Try to come up with (and then answer) specific questions about your marketing strategy. Who are you looking to reach? What do you want them to know? How will you let them know it?

Once you have some ideas, it’s time to start planning. Organize your ideas into a marketing strategy that you can take into the real world. Think of the cost, effort, time, and other resources your plan will use. Is it worth it? Don’t be afraid to scrap an idea if you decide it isn’t worth the investment.

Many great and creative marketing ideas come from revisiting the drawing board a few times.

Inventive marketing

There are many different ways to get an idea across to an audience, but you’re looking for something unique. Experiential or experimental marketing techniques are often the ones that an audience remembers, simply because they’re different from anything else the audience has experienced.

Pop-up restaurants

Give your customers a taste of what you’re made of by coming to them. They get a fun experience they might not have otherwise had, and a reason to travel to visit you again.

Host or sponsor an exciting event

This can range anywhere from having a local dance troupe perform outside your storefront to a flash mob in the city center. If you have the resources for something extreme, that can also garner a lot of attention. For instance, Red Bull sent a man to high orbit to complete the world’s highest skydive. Think big!

Invite audience participation

Ask your customers what food or sharing a meal means to them. Invite them to write it on a wall in your restaurant, or on papers that you can hang anywhere. If you can, invite them to record their message on camera and create a video montage to put on your website or social channels.

Find the fun

People like to have fun. Take Volkswagen’s Piano Staircase campaign. Turning the stairs into an interactive piano made people happy and made a car ad memorable. Let the public create a mural on your outer or inner wall. Create a day for kids to come into your kitchen and learn to cook something simple. Let people create art to hang on your walls.

Tell a story

People resonate with stories. Everyone has one. Tell the story of your family business, why you started your restaurant, the history of how you learned to cook, or the regulars that keep coming back to you. Let people know who you are. They’ll start to think of you more as a friend than a business owner.

Marketing doesn’t have to be scary. A little time with a few minds at work and a piece of paper can produce all sorts of ideas. Look up other restaurant (or non-restaurant) marketing campaigns for inspiration. There are many different paths to reaching your audience. Find one that’s right for you.

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