No or very little marketing budget? No problem. It’s time be creative and start some guerilla marketing. Here are a few ideas that I came across while talking to small restaurant owners. Some reported great success with them!
Visit your local schools and contact the PTA, the different athletic associations or the local bands. Chances are they are struggling to raise money. Most restaurants typically offer to host a spirit night and give 20% to 30% back from the guests these groups brought. Be bold, make an offer they can’t refuse, and give 30% back on all checks that night. If your restaurant is seen as a pillar of the community, they will support your business in return.
Is there a local performance theater or movie theater in your neighborhood? Contact them and see if they would work with you to offer a date night package, including show tickets and a romantic dinner for two at a discounted price. This could work especially well around Valentine’s Day.
Visit small local businesses or contact the HR departments of larger businesses and offer to host free lunches for their employees. Make sure you print flyers and place signs to get your name out. Also, if you deliver, create a special lunch offer for those businesses to encourage them to visit your location.
Contact local real estate agents or leasing offices and offer them gift cards for your restaurant to give to new homeowners or new tenants. Usually, they will have welcome packages and will appreciate having something of value to give to their customers.
While you are talking to local real estate agents, offer to provide them with free food for their open houses. Make sure you keep the food provided simple and easy to eat, otherwise, you may have a very angry real estate agent to deal with (nobody wants spaghetti sauce on their carpet!).
Reach out to local businesses or communities and offer to host a happy hour for their group. Make it enticing by providing the food for free or drinks at discounted prices. Keep those happy hours specific to a group to encourage them to come. If you make it generic, you may not get the expected results.
You see? No need for expensive ads or useless inserts in community newspapers. Be creative, be true to your brand, support your community and chances are, they will support you back.
by Marylise Fabro
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