• Eli Collins

3 Experiential Marketing Tips Every Restaurant Owner Should Try

If you’re in the business of running a restaurant, you likely already know how much of a challenge it can pose. Instead of using traditional marketing techniques to bring customers to your restaurant, you may want to consider turning your focus to experiential marketing. Experiential marketing is marketing that creates a face-to-face branding experience to your clients. Essentially, experiential marketing is less about sending a message to your audience and more about memorably communicating with your audience.

Restaurants are specially positioned to succeed with experiential marketing because customers develop bonds with the food they love. They’re likely to be vocal about brands they love and even more vocal about brands that have let them down in the past. If you can create a meaningful connection with your customers through experiential marketing campaigns, you’ll gain vocal brand advocates and lifelong customers.

Here are three tips for bringing experiential marketing to your restaurant.

Market your brand, not just your restaurant: In 2015, Lean Cuisine launched an experiential marketing campaign at Grand Central Station in New York. The company created a gallery of scales on one of the largest walls. But these scales didn’t show women’s weight. Instead, they asked women to write on the scale how they want to be measured. Women wrote things like “My journey of self-love,” “My three wonderful children,” and “Going back to college at 55.” The best thing about this campaign is that it hit on Lean Cuisine’s core messaging, which encourages women to love their bodies. Of course, the Lean Cuisine logo and name were present, but the campaign wasn’t about them so much as promoted by them. To learn from Lean Cuisine, dig deep to discover your core message, and then build your experiential campaign around that.

Ask your customers what they want: One of the best ways to interact with your customers is to give them a voice and ask their opinion. Google did this very well when they decided to donate $5.5 million to Bay Area non-profits. They added interactive displays all over the city asking passers-by to vote on how to spend the money. This experiential marketing tactic allowed local customers to feel that they were making a tangible difference. To learn from Google, involve your customers in decisions about your restaurant. Are you planning on launching a new food item? Have customers vote on the name of the item.

Partner with a cause or event: If you’re looking for a creative way to get more customers into your restaurant while simultaneously building brand loyalty and customer relationships, partnering with a nonprofit or popular event is a great way to make that connection. Recently, LivingSocial partnered with World Central Kitchen and invited guests to try restaurants all over DC to promote WCK’s message and get new customers to try LivingSocial’s platform. Customers paid full price for the experience, and it sold out. To learn from LivingSocial, consider partnering with a local nonprofit to donate a portion of your proceeds to them for the night. Just make sure the nonprofit is aligned with your core messaging and brand. A steakhouse would look foolish donating a portion of its proceeds to PETA or the ASPCA, for example. You can also partner with a popular event in your area that needs local vendors to provide food services. You’ll draw a new crowd and build authentic customer relationships along the way.

No matter how you choose to market your restaurant, the most important thing is to be genuine in your interactions and allow customers to be a part of the conversation. These positive interactions matter more than almost anything else about your business or marketing strategy. In fact, 72% of customers say that think positively of brands that provide good experiences for their customers. If you’d like to learn how your restaurant can benefit from experiential marketing, contact Modern Promos today. We can work with you to design the perfect experience for your customers, staff your events with trained brand ambassadors, and help turn your customers into loyal brand advocates.

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