Restaurant Ad Tactics Designed for Success

Any restaurateur knows how challenging it is to cut through the clutter. Since the restaurant industry is a dog-eat-dog sector with an estimated $863 billion sales in 2019, standing out is crucial yet an uphill battle. Entrepreneurs and marketers alike must create restaurant ad designs that go against the grain. 

If you’re wondering how to promote a restaurant, we’ve handpicked seven unique food marketing tactics and examples. Also, learn more about how restaurants can diversify their advertising approach and the necessary marketing needs for both small and large restaurant chains.


How Restaurants Can Diversify Restaurant Ad Designs

In an extremely fierce competition, restaurant marketers must use all their creative juices to create restaurant ad campaigns. Sticking to just one type of marketing channel simply won’t cut the mustard. It’s crucial to touch on every platform where there’s a huge opportunity. 

For instance, focusing on digital marketing alone will miss chances of grabbing a more extensive offline audience. And since the online world doesn’t only comprise of social media, it’s imperative that marketers also branch out to other digital advertising types. 

Here are the most common digital marketing types:

  • Social media marketing
  • Email marketing
  • Influencer marketing
  • Content marketing
  • SEO
  • PPC

Of course, outdoor advertising is still as effective as online advertising. Restaurant advertisers must diversify using these print collaterals:

  • Stickers
  • Flyers
  • Posters
  • Calendars
  • Business cards
  • Billboards


7 Restaurant Ad Tactics and Examples

While it’s strategic to focus on different marketing types, here are a few creative marketing approaches that grab consumer attention.


1. Guerilla Marketing

mcdonalds pedestrian ad

Guerilla marketing is an unconventional type of advertising that uses the element of surprise. Marketers make use of mundane public objects and high foot traffic areas to grab attention. Not only is this tactic cheap, but it’s also effective. 

McDonald’s is one of the leading restaurant chains that don’t take ad designs lightly. This was for the biggest public festival in Switzerland — the Zurifest.


2. Interactive Ads

mcdonalds billboard puzzle

Interactive billboards are sprouting left and right. This is excellent for engaging your audience and, in turn, gain their admiration. This one is from DDB Stockholm for none other than — McDonald’s. It’s a billboard puzzle that invites consumers to “sort your head out.” This food advertisement campaign is for their €1 coffee in Sweden.


3. User-Generated Content

white cup contest

When it comes to social media marketing, user-generated content means free marketing and extensive reach. UGC entails leveraging users’ content as a promotional tactic for your brand. People are more compelled to this type of marketing than the typical sales-pitchy campaigns.

Starbucks thought of the brilliant #whitecupcontest in 2014 to encourage people to design their own Starbucks cups. Asking the entrants to upload the images on social media, Starbucks then picked a winner offering a $300 prize money.


4. Local SEO

google ad example

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is gaining popularity. However, restaurants need to amp up on local SEO advertising. Of course, restaurants would want to tap on nearby consumers. If you don’t have a website, don’t fret. You can still appear on Google’s first page like this Little Donkey example by setting up a Google My Business profile. Here’s a step-by-step guide


5. Challenges and Contests

havana central typography

Organizing challenges and contests are a perfect way to create buzz online. It can also make the rounds online and can even promote your brand through word of mouth. 

Havana Central’s giveaway campaign for winning an hour of open bar for the winner and nine friends is an example. They asked participants to like their social media pages, post the page on their wall, or sign up for their email list. These three requirements not only bring media mileage but also gather leads for their email campaigns.


6. Loyalty Programs

woman doing groceries

One way to gain a regular clientele is by offering loyalty programs that either give them freebies or discounts. You can go about this in two ways. One is to tie up with loyalty reward apps for restaurants. The second one is the conventional punch cards.


7. Mouthwatering Photos

double cheeseburger

A restaurant marketer will never go wrong with mouthwatering foodie photos. It’s one of the food advertising tactics that will never go out of style. As long as the images are high-quality, they’ll surely make consumers salivate. Here’s Salvation Burger’s photo from the topnotch food photographer Daniel Krieger


Marketing Differences and Similarities Between Small and Large Restaurants 

While these restaurant ad designs work for both small and large restaurants, there are a few limitations that small restaurants have in terms of marketing and vice versa. Likewise, larger restaurant chains may have to market differently because of a few factors:

  • Larger restaurants have more customers, which allows them to market to a broader avenue. On the other hand, smaller restaurants are limited in space and resources, which means overcrowding might turn customers away.
  • In terms of price, larger restaurants can offer more competitive pricing because they can buy in bulk. And we all know that buying in bulk can save on overhead expenses.
  • The upper hand of operating a larger restaurant is ample space. This allows you to divide the area into several dining areas. In terms of marketing, larger restaurants can offer private dining functions, group celebrations, and even corporate events without sacrificing walk-in customers. 

Even with these marketing approach differences, there are still a few fundamental elements that both small and large restaurants have in common. And here are three of the basic ones:



Branding is that special sauce (pun fully intended) that makes a restaurant stand out. It’s how a restaurant resonates with their target market. Regardless of the restaurant size, each must have a unique branding that separates them from the competition.


Aside from branding, consistency in marketing should be a top priority. This includes using the same brand colors, logos, icons, symbols, typography, and whatnot across all advertising collaterals. Inconsistency might confuse your customers and turn them away.

Good Graphic Design

Restaurant ad campaigns rely on visuals. Without good graphic design, a restaurant advertiser will never be able to entice consumers to try the food out. With that said, small and large restaurants should always showcase their food through excellent graphics.

If you need help with your restaurant ad designs, hire professionals like Design Doctor. For a flat monthly rate, you can have all your design projects organized and created with quality and branding in mind.

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