Introduction to Guerrilla Marketing for Restaurants

Challenges never end for restaurant owners. Running a restaurant requires adaptability and constant problem-solving in all areas of human resource issues, technical problems, and adapting to trends and expectations of customers. Marketing is one particularly difficult task that can make or break any restaurant.

Today, let’s discuss guerrilla marketing and the ways to use it to promote your restaurant. What is guerrilla marketing? “Guerrilla marketing is an advertising strategy that focuses on low-cost unconventional marketing tactics that yield maximum results.” – Creative Guerilla Marketing

In the 1980’s, marketing expert Jay Conrad Levinson invented guerrilla marketing. He looked at marketing through unconventional ways, focusing on a surprise or shock-type factor to create a memorable marketing piece. Part of these tactics includes using your passion to be creative in your marketing efforts.

3 Reasons Why Restaurants Should Use Guerrilla Marketing Tactics

  1. Effectiveness. This style of marketing works to inform people of your products in ways that grab their attention and make them want to visit your restaurant.
  2. Affordable. Even the smallest of budgets can afford guerrilla marketing.
  3. Results are fast. Get people talking about your restaurant and grow an audience via traditional marketing channels quickly.

When to Roll Out a Guerrilla Marketing Campaign

The best time for a new marketing campaign is when your numbers are leveling out, or when you are trying to attract new customers. You should also consider guerrilla marketing to shake things up and not when you are in the middle of other marketing campaigns.

At the core of guerrilla marketing is creative, playful, entertaining, rule-breaking, and an attention-grabbing tactic. Thankfully, successful guerrilla marketing requires creativity above all else, including money. Any funds you do put into a campaign should be used wisely to back up your creative endeavor.

Results of a Successful Guerrilla Marketing Campaign

A successful guerrilla marketing campaign should result in:

  1. New fans or brand ambassadors. Any person who engages directly with your campaign can become an ambassador of your business. New ambassadors are excited and tell their friends. Word-of-mouth is wildly useful for most businesses, particularly restaurants.
  2. Free press. It doesn’t need to get national attention, but it’s enough to be noticed by local bloggers, writers, independent publications, and local channel human interest pieces.
  3. New business. It may be seemingly random at first; however, should grow to a point that you know it is related to your restaurant’s guerrilla marketing.

An Example of a Successful Guerrilla Marketing Campaign

Red Bull cars drove around and passed out free cans of their product. They hired young, friendly people with the confidence to talk to strangers and introduce Red Bull. Most people were excited to receive a free gift from the company, but they were also excited by the whole show: a cool Mini Cooper, dynamic staff, and an unexpected event in their day.

Now, although we see less of the show-stopping Mini Cooper cars, every gas station, convenience store, and grocery store stocks Red Bull. The lesson to learn from Red Bull: when you strike your customer on a personal and memorable level, your guerrilla marketing will attract attention that turns into lasting revenue growth.

Restaurant Guerrilla Marketing Ideas

  • Join local events that your target demographics are into, like street fairs, music festivals, or wine tastings.
  • Use art to your advantage. Show a movie from a projector onto the exterior of your restaurant or emblazon the sidewalk with chalk graffiti.
  • Secrecy works well for restaurants; your team can add mysterious art around the city or different neighborhoods to grow a buzz. Just be sure what you do in this area of marketing is legal. Then, announce it was your restaurant with a bang.
  • Reinvent your interior décor to be extremely photographable or add a Snapchat/Instagram spot where customers are invited to take photos of themselves and share on social media with a hashtag.
  • Host a wild treasure hunt that takes customers around the city and give out big rewards.

Brainstorm a Guerrilla Marketing Campaign for Your Restaurant

As seen above, there are endless ways to conduct a guerrilla marketing campaign! Before you start, the following considerations should be considered:

  • Stay true to your brand. Looking back at Red Bull, driving the newest car worked because of their affinity to being fast and daring. It also coincided with their other initiatives like the Red Bull Air Race or Formula 1 racing. Your campaign should surprise and entertain without contradicting your restaurant’s style and brand.
  • The major characteristic of guerrilla marketing is that it comes at things from a new or different way—it’s unexpected. Use this quality to uplift the areas that are lagging at your restaurant.
  • In the brainstorming session, decide what result you want and be specific. Look at where things are lacking in your restaurant’s business needs. If your happy hours are slow, you want to increase foot traffic and increase sales. If you’re losing reservations to new restaurants, you want to remind people why your restaurant is perfect for date night.
  • Remember to include social media in your guerrilla marketing, appropriately and with the proper timing.
  • Use specific aspects of your restaurant’s app or timely announcements regarding your restaurant’s Guerrilla Marketing.
  • Know who you want to attract, how the campaign will entertain them, and what the outcome desired outcome is. Then, you have the foundation to come up with an unexpected marketing strategy.
  • Be original. Copycats are often frowned upon and carry the stigma of being unoriginal, ultimately resulting in the loss of potential customers.

The thing these examples have in common is they are fun and share the element of surprise. With guerrilla marketing, it’s not just important that your audience enjoys the results, but that you and your team also think it’s a great idea. With energy and creativity, your guerrilla marketing campaign can draw in new crowds and grow your reputation.

When your numbers grow—from tables to sales—have a great restaurant point-of-sale system to support your success. Try some guerrilla marketing tactics that fit your restaurant and let us know about your success!

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