10 Tips to Nail Your Food & Restaurant Advertising

In this world of digital consumers, everyone’s competing for attention. According to Invesp, the average person is served 1,700 banner ads per month, yet only half of those ads will ever be viewed. In a saturated environment such as the food and restaurant industry, new names often get lost in the sea of competition. If you fail to impress, your hard work in creating your restaurant ad will go to waste.

Food and restaurant advertising tips

Laid the groundwork for your next food ad campaign yet? Whether you are launching a new menu item, creating awareness for your newly minted restaurant or working to grow your online audience, you will need to stay laser-focused on that objective. It may sound simple, but you’ll be surprised to know that many brands have lost their way in the name of differentiating themselves from the masses.

Let’s dive into 10 tips that will help you nail your restaurant ad campaign to the core!

Food ad tip #1: Strike a chord with your diners

Your restaurant ad has the power to communicate a compelling message to your diners. Brands are like people, each one with a unique personality and values. If your restaurant was a person, what would he or she sound like? And what kind of message would you like to communicate? No one is going to pay attention to noise. According to NeuroMarketing, campaigns with purely emotional content perform nearly twice as well as those with purely rational content!

We loved how Coca-Cola stood for eliminating social prejudice in its Remove Labels This Ramadan campaign. Many viewers connected with Coca-Cola’s universal message. It’s no surprise that the campaign resulted in a whopping 51% increase in consumption of their products.

When it comes to emotional content, consider this: What message do you, as a restaurant, want to send to your diners? Perhaps your restaurant is combatting food waste. Or maybe the importance of using organic ingredients? They say birds of the same feather flock together. So don’t be afraid to show the world what your restaurant genuinely cares for!

Food ad tip #2: Keep it interesting with visual storytelling

Nothing will annoy your audiences more than to see the same old ideas rehashed by so many brands! Switching your ad up with novel images can be refreshing in the eyes of your diners. They say a picture speaks a thousand words, and perhaps it’s true! 55% of audiences actually recall content more when images are included.

Today, the attention of consumers lasts for only about 8 seconds. So it will be smart for you to tell your restaurant’s story by exploring with images. Take a look at how Chupa Chups cleverly told their story on sugar-free lollipops – love it!

 Food and restaurant advertising tips Chupa Chups ad example

Visual storytelling involves showing, rather than telling. But there’s just one small problem – not all of us are as creative as we wish we were. And not all of us are born master storytellers either. But that’s okay! There are many tried and tested principles to storytelling that can guide you along. Whenever you watch a movie, you’re being exposed to storytelling too. Whether your food ad runs on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest or YouTube, they can all tell a story. Ultimately, it’s all about nailing the imagery and representation of your restaurant.

Food ad tip #3:  Play around with color

Colors aren’t just fun – when used effectively, they can affect consumer behavior too. A quick look at different restaurant ads around you will reveal a trend. You’ll notice that ads for fast food chains tend to use brighter colors that reflect energy while luxury ads often use darker colors to represent authority and sleekness.

This infographic on the psychology of colors and consumer behavior by Kissmetrics sums it up pretty well!

Color psychology in food ads

While you play around with color, don’t forget about creating contrast as well. Using red text against a cyan background, for instance, is only setting your diners up for a terrible eyesore. Your diners want to know more about what you have to offer, but if they can’t look beyond the jarring colors, your ad has miserably failed. Contrast is key. If your dish features light colors, it’s probably a good idea to stay away from a white background.

Food ad tip #4:  Don’t claim to be something you’re not

“We are vegan-friendly! We use fresh ingredients only!”

These claims are often used today to entice consumers, who are more discerning than ever in making their food choices. Facts build credibility, which is extremely crucial. In fact, 54% of users don’t click on banner ads purely because they don’t trust them. In the hopes of attracting your customers to your restaurant, be sure not to fall into the trap of deceptive advertising.

In 2010, Kellogg’s was accused of misleading consumers through their claims of Rice Krispies’ “immunity-boosting” properties. The ads were then put to a halt by the Federal Trade Commission.

 Food and restaurant advertising tips Rice Krispies misleading immunity claim

Draw the line between making an enticing offer and claiming to be something that you’re not. Be sure to verify your sources before launching anything that can potentially cause more harm to your restaurant than good.

Food ad tip #5: Stay on top of trends in the food industry

You may not be a social media fanatic or active on half a dozen communication channels. And that’s okay. But knowing what’s trending among your diners can provide you with that small window of opportunity to skyrocket your sales.

Remember when Pokemon Go took the Internet by storm? Try creating your food ads around a trending restaurant topic or even have dine-in deals associated with a trending event. Don’t be afraid to jump on the bandwagon! You’d be surprised at how it can help to boost your business.

Google Trends is a free tool that restaurant owners and marketers can leverage when it comes to monitoring search trends based on keywords worldwide, or specific to regions. For example if you type “cookies” into Google Trends, you will see that the searches have spiked every December for the past 5 years, which is around the holiday season.

Google Trends food advertising

There are many examples of brands hijacking trends, but this one has got to be one of our favorites. The Internet got so excited over solar eclipses that when it happened in March 2015, Oreo converted the hype over the natural phenomenon into their biggest sales month ever. We’re talking about a 35% increase in sales that month alone. Curious to know how they achieved such advertising success? Watch this video.

Food ad tip #6: Build your audience on the right platform

An excellent ad on the wrong platform is such a waste. With so many platforms to choose from, where do you get started? From social media (which is great for getting personal with your diners, by the way) to websites, blogs and even offline platforms, every platform is an opportunity to put your restaurant out there. Are your diners requesting for take-away orders or wish they could order food online from your platforms? Making your mark in the right place is essential.

We can all learn from Domino’s brilliant marketing campaign. Just by enabling users to order their pizza directly via Twitter, Domino’s gained media coverage from media companies such as USA Today and Forbes. More importantly, more than 50% of Domino’s orders come from digital channels today.

Food and restaurant advertising tips Domino's Pizza easy order process 

Domino’s step-by-step instructions on how to order via the Twitter hashtag #EasyOrder

Food ad tip #7: Be effective when asking for an action from your audience

You’ve created a great restaurant advertisement. You’ve placed it on the best platform available. But you’re not seeing results. What could possibly be missing?

How about a creative and effective Call To Action (CTA)?

According to Unbounce, More than 90% of visitors who read a headline also read the CTA copy, which is why it’s so important to ensure that your ad’s CTA is specific, creative and linked to the objective of your advertisement. Make it irresistible for your consumers to take action. Give people a reason to click!

Want to bring in more orders? Then ‘“Treat yourself now!” could do it for you. Announcing the opening of a new outlet? Then “Be the first in line” might be a good fit. A creative and effective CTA increases the chances of consumers taking action, as compared to a clichéd “Click Here”.

 Food and restaurant advertising tips McDonald's quarter pounder Make It Better ad

McDonald’s Quarter Pounder Deluxe ad entices consumers to “Make It Better”.  

Food ad tip #9: Have fun with hashtags

Hashtags are an amazing opportunity for your restaurant to get trending. Beyond focusing on gaining more followers for marketing purposes, ride on the creation of your social media hashtags to create lasting impressions in your diners. When used cleverly, these hashtags can inject fun into your their dining experiences! Reach out to your audience and create greater awareness for your restaurant. Even better, think about how your restaurant can get consumers involved online, without actually having to be part of the dine-in experience.

In fact, it can also be as simple as sharing photos of your menu items followed by your restaurant hashtag! For instance, Catch 122 Cage Bistro has over 2,000 photos of their menu items on Instagram, using the hashtag #Catch122Menu. Not only is this a costless way to market their food, it lets diners in on the social chatter just by being part of a simple hashtag.

 Food and restaurant advertising tips Instagram food

Food ad tip #10: Create stunning and high-quality menus

Introducing the silent member of your restaurant sales team — your menu! Having a visually appealing menu that carries the personality of your restaurant serves to form lasting impressions among your diners. A pleasant menu marks the beginning of an enjoyable dining experience, given that it is the first thing most diners focus on when they arrive. It also sets diners’ expectations for the rest of their time in your restaurant. Nobody enjoys squinting through a crumpled sheet of paper with unreadable texts to order their food. You’d need to make your menu work.

Make use of online tools such as Canva or iMenuPro to ensure high-quality marketing collateral, which you can always customize to suit your needs. With a wide array of basic templates you can choose from, building your own menu is easy!

Online ordering for restaurant marketing

Take it one step further to satisfy your customers’ cravings by letting them make an immediate purchase from your online menu. 2016 was the banner year where we saw restaurants gearing up to fulfill online ordering demands. In creating an online presence for your brand, having an online ordering system allows you to grow your restaurant beyond its four walls.

In a highly dynamic and saturated environment such as the restaurant industry, it is the hope of every restaurant marketer to be the go-to brand in their field. Well, the good news is, technology has made it much easier for restaurants to reach out to diners. Whether it’s through digital mediums or traditional tactics, the marketing game for food and restaurant brands has indeed changed. With the right marketing mix powered by innovative tactics, restaurants owners will be sure to get over the seasonal slumps!

About the Author

Nadiah Nanni is a Content & Marketing Enthusiast at Oddle, the leading online food ordering platform that facilitates order management for restaurants. Launched in 2014, Oddle is heating up the food delivery space, with over USD20 million worth of orders transacted. Nadiah writes about useful tips, advice, insights, resources and inspiration for growing the restaurant business. She believes in empowering all restaurateurs to grow their business through an all-in-one online ordering system. Reach out to her at marketing [at] oddle.me

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