Keeping the Seats Filled and the Customers Coming
Even on a shoestring, restaurants have to market themselves. Every restaurant has competition, whether it's the Italian restaurant around the corner, the McDonald's a half mile away or mom's Thanksgiving leftovers in the home freezer.
Guerilla Marketing is using a number of smaller tactics rather than utilizing larger tactics like the national TV ads that franchises use. Guerilla tactics are cheap if not free.
Top 10 Guerilla Tactics
- Signage - Make sure you have the largest, clearest and most clever sign that local ordinances will allow.
- Flyers - Make sure people know you're opening. Give them 15% off an entree the first week you're open.
- Sampling - Having your best looking and most personable server handing out samples of your irresistable muffins in the morning or delicious pasta in the afternoon goes a long way to building a relationship with new customers.
Tell people about the restaurant while they're stopping to grab a sample. Invite them to come back for something to eat.
- Loyalty Programs - Offer people something for free after they've bought 10 items at your restaurant. Give people a reason to come back often.
- Public Relations Stunts - Grab media attention. Have your staff dress up as chickens and walk around your neighborhood, if you serve the best roast chicken in town. Be creative. Do whatever it takes to get noticed. Hand out menus and cards.
- Great Customer Service and Warmth - Treating people graciously and making them feel special will create buzz. People will tell their friends about a great experience they had.
- Promotions - Offer special themed dinners, guided wine and cheese tastings and other fun events to give people a reason to come to the restaurant on a usually slow night.
- Contests - Just having a fishbowl and collecting business cards allows you to collect valuable information about your customers. You build an email and/or mail campaign.
- Customer Comment Cards - Collect names, email addresses and birthdates of your cutomers. Email them a special coupon 3 weeks before their birthday.
- The Web - Having a simple website that shows people your menu, what kind of payment you accept, your operating hours and gives an idea of your restaurant concept is a great marketing tool.