The 5 Best Sidewalk Ads for Your Restaurant

Earlier this week, I went out to eat twice in one day. A funny thing: the two places I ate at were located right next to each other. Sure, I had gone to each restaurant many times before, but before Tuesday, I had never noticed that the two were, literally, right next door. Another funny thing: Both times when I walked to where they were, I walked right past the restaurant front door and then had to backtrack down the sidewalk. If you’re wondering if one of these places was your restaurant, you should really consider better sidewalk advertising. Here are 5 ideas for sidewalk advertising to increase your sales.

1. Sidewalk Chalk

One fun way to invite guests into your restaurant is to advertise with sidewalk chalk. The budget for this is pretty low (it only costs about $1 to get a pack of jumbo sidewalk chalk), and decorating the sidewalk gives your bored busser something to do besides play Angry Birds on his phone.

Since sidewalk chalk drawings can be changed every day and cannot be stolen, you should use this technique to start your campaign down the street from your restaurant, in order to drive your customer’s curiosity. You can even advertise daily specials (or tomorrow’s breakfast specials!).

The obvious drawback: If most of your customers drive to your building, sidewalk chalk won’t help you catch their attention.

2. Sandwich Board

Sandwich boards encourage bystanders or passers-by to notice your restaurant, and they’re even effective with car traffic if your restaurant is near a stop sign or stoplight. Because they draw so much attention, they’ve become a restaurant advertising classic.

The obvious drawback: Let’s face it, sandwich boards are kind of played.

3. Decorated Truck or Car

Decorated vehicles never fail to grab attention. No matter if your prospects are driving, walking, hot-air-ballooning, whatever, a decorated car or truck will not only stand out from far away, it’ll also provide a convenient landmark for your returning customers to find you easily.

The obvious drawback(s): Parking can be expensive, and vehicle decoration isn’t effective for small restaurants that don’t have a clear, easily recognizable theme or mascot.

4. Posters    

Posters, like sandwich boards, are also a classic street-side advertising method. Many restaurants use small, banner-style posters to advertise their daily specials. Other restaurants plaster the inside of their windows with enormous and mouthwatering pictures of food.

The obvious downfall: Because posters are expensive and semi-permanent, advertising new and exciting specials is pretty much out.

5. Free Samples

Of course, giving away free food is always an effective way to get more customers. In fact, it’s such an effective technique that it even has a name in sales: the Law of Reciprocity. This law states that if you give people free things, they will subconsciously feel guilty and want to “pay you” for the free thing—by walking straight into your restaurant and ordering something.

The obvious downfall: If you give out free samples to people who don’t have the time to sit down at your restaurant, you are wasting your samples and your time.

Keep your customers focused on you every day

Remember that people who make the same drive or the same walk every day will develop blinders. They will lose focus on their surroundings and, if you aren’t reminding the people in your area about your presence every single day, they will forget about you. Without effective advertising, your restaurant will miss out on thousands (perhaps hundreds of thousands) of dollars in revenues over the course of this year alone.

By using a smart sidewalk advertising method such as sidewalk chalk drawings, sandwich boards, a decorated truck or car, large and colorful posters, or free samples, you will gain an important chance each day to remind your possible customers that you exist. The restaurant business is hard enough as it is, why make it harder?

Photo licensed by John Loo