Restaurant Marketing Beyond Your 4 Walls: 5 Big Ideas and What You Can Learn From Them
- 3 Min Read
Competition for customers inside — and especially outside — your four walls is fierce. According to a National Restaurant Association and Technomic report, 78% of operators said off-premises programs were a strategic priority. Catering could be your chance to stand out and gain new business. But where do you find marketing inspiration for your next campaign? Here are five examples of out-of-the-box marketing tactics to get your creative juices flowing.
1. Red Lobster and McDonald’s Get Creative with Swag
For the holidays, Red Lobster recently got in on the ugly sweater game. The Cheddar Bay Biscuit “Ugly” holiday sweater was covered with drawings of lobsters and shrimp. But most importantly, it came with an insulated pocket to keep your cheddar biscuits warm. The unconventional product was designed to grab attention and to keep the brand top-of-mind — potentially for future off-premises orders. And to promote delivery, McDonald’s recently gave away loungewear, like french fry t-shirts and Golden-Arch-yellow slippers, that customers could wear at home while waiting for their McDonald’s delivery orders.
Takeaway: Your brand goes beyond your food. If you can’t create swag, find ways to incorporate your name and logo into your packaging that customers take home.
2. Chili’s Brings Families On Board
Chili’s recognized that with busy schedules, gathering for a family dinner can be challenging. So the brand deployed a school bus decorated with its logo to pick up Detroit kids and their families after school to take them to dinner at Chili’s. It’s the kind of restaurant marketing tactic that inspires brand loyalty, and could bring in new off-premises customers.
Takeaway: Families are an important audience. Find ways to speak to the families in your community to get them into your restaurant — and so they’ll think of you for their next catering occasion, too.
3. CoreLife Eatery Finds Its Om
CoreLife Eatery’s brand is based on whole, healthful foods. So it made sense when it launched a special yoga event with instructors from studios near its Syracuse, NY restaurant. At CoreLife Eatery, wellness goes beyond its menu. This kind of event sends that message loud and clear.
Takeaway: Find partnerships in your community that go hand-in-hand with your brand. Sponsor a local sports team, or join a community event. There’s value in associating your brand with other similar brands.
4. Jimmy John’s Goes Big and Goes Home
Sandwich chain Jimmy John’s grabbed attention for a marketing campaign giving away up to $250,000 toward the purchase of a house. One condition of the Home in the Zone promotion was that the winner had to purchase a home located within the Jimmy John’s delivery radius. Contestants wrote essays about why they want a house in a Jimmy John’s delivery zone, inspiring potential off-premises orders.
Takeaway: Contests and giveaways can be great restaurant marketing tactic. And if the contest is off-premises specific, it can get customers thinking about your business beyond your four walls too.
5. Taco Bell Opens a Hotel
Taco Bell recently took over the V Palm Springs hotel in California for a four-day experience. And they made sure the Taco Brand was everywhere. The key cards, pillows, wall art, pool floats, towels, and more were all designed with the the chain’s branding. And of course there were food and drinks from poolside servers toting Crunchwraps, nacho fries, and avocado tostados. Guests could even get a Taco Bell themed manicure or haircut at an onsite salon. While Taco Bell’s hotel was only about 70 rooms, it was made for our social media era. Guests included influencers and Taco Bell super fans.
Takeaway: Make your restaurant brand experience so immersive that it’s impossible to not feel it beyond the four walls. Model your menus, packaging, and food presentation so that it’s uniquely representative of your brand.
Marketing beyond four walls isn’t always easy, but it can help you grow your business and stand out. These five examples show that the best campaigns combine a genuine understanding of their customers with a creative spark to grab attention.
Build a restaurant marketing plan now.