Use out-of-home advertising to market your restaurant.

Traditional advertising hasn’t disappeared, but it’s no longer enough for a restaurant to use traditional marketing alone. In this age, people are busier than they have ever been, and they don’t take time to pay attention to ads. For a brand to get noticed, it has to do something memorable to stand out from the crowd.

In a time when people are out of their homes more than ever, the way restaurant marketers can reach their customers is with out-of-home (OOH) advertising. In fact, the Outdoor Advertising Association of America states that adults spend 70 percent of their time away from their homes. OOH can reach the key demographic restaurants target in an effective way. Plus, it can easily be integrated with technology or an existing marketing plan.

According to OAAA, among consumers who viewed OOH over the course of a month, 40 percent of them visited a restaurant that was advertised. Considering that 80 percent of consumers are exposed to OOH on an average day, that’s a lot of restaurant patrons!

Within OOH, there are many different media choices. Mobile (moveable) OOH offers versatility; it can go anywhere, at any time, in the form of mobile billboards, Segways, ad balloons, food trucks, street teams, or pop-up experiences. With a mobile approach, it’s easy to target a specific audience or offer a more generalized reach with hyper-local accuracy. OOH is flexible creatively and strategically, so you can tailor your message to your brand and your market.

While OOH can certainly be successful standing alone, it’s also a successful way to reinforce existing marketing strategies. A USA Touchpoints study shows that adding OOH to other media can potentially increase reach by 316 percent. Plus it’s much harder to ignore OOH than traditional advertising. With technology such as DVR and services like Netflix, fewer and fewer people are watching commercials. But, if someone walks outside and sees a mobile billboard driving past, that’s not something they can skip or delete. It’s visible and physical and makes the message feel more real right in front of the consumer’s eyes.

In another example, seeing an ad in a magazine likely won’t make a consumer get up and go to a restaurant. However, if you can reach them with OOH while they are already out of their house and on their path to purchase, it is much more likely for them to visit your restaurant. You’re hitting customers at critical touchpoints and during times of highest influence. Nielsen reports that 16 percent of consumers have immediately visited a business advertised in OOH.

Experiential OOH advertising is also driving brand awareness, and experiences are a great way to ramp up positive emotions in consumers. OAAA found that more people feel excited and confident when exposed to OOH than when they are exposed to TV. Using brand ambassadors or a sampling team, for instance, can give people a memorable experience that will increase brand recall and positive brand associations. This is all simply by inviting people to experience the food your restaurant serves in an exciting and hands-on way. Creating other fun interactions will drive door turns back to your restaurant in ways traditional advertising can’t.

OOH also integrates easily with digital technology in multiple ways. This is especially important today when consumers rarely leave their house without their mobile devices. Geofencing and beaconized media can target specific demographics and locations to add a digital component to the physical that makes it hard to ignore.

Plus, OOH is social media-friendly: when customers have a great experience, they’ll want to spread the word and share it on social media. In fact, OOH media delivers more online activity (including search, Facebook, and Twitter) per advertising dollar spent compared to all other forms of offline media.

One example of OOH success is Corner Bakery Café, which combined non-traditional media formats to promote grand openings and catering services. In a recent 3-day campaign in Oklahoma City, they used mobile billboards around the city to catch consumers’ attention on the street. Brand ambassadors with beverage samples drove people to the restaurant while they were out and about. Once the consumers were in the restaurant, there was a PhotoMarketing team who promoted fun social shares for the restaurant.

In those three days, they distributed 3,150 special offers, took 347 PhotoMarketing pictures and distributed 54 gallons of jet pack beverage samples. Linda Kennedy, their Franchise Marketing Manager said that relationships during the campaign would be “strengthened and remembered for years to come.” These impressions are not only remarkable in size, but also in value. These unique OOH engagements allowed Corner Bakery Café to create a memorable experience for consumers, which drove brand awareness, foot traffic and revenue.

Clearly, traditional media alone would never be able to accomplish what OOH media can. Because of its flexibility and ability to be integrated, OOH is versatile, effective, and essential to creating awareness of a restaurant’s brand. 

Expert Takes, Feature