A Guide to Outdoor Advertising for Local Restaurants – Updated for 2021

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Local restaurants often succeed or fail based on the consistency of their visual identity and the quality of their food, which is why so many outsource the cultivation of their brand and marketing strategy to an industry expert.

We’ve recently seen a significant shift in the marketing channels typically used to promote restaurant brands, however, particularly as online and social channels in this space have become increasingly saturated with promotional messages.

Instead, out-of-home (OOH) advertising has become increasingly popular, with this trend prevalent across a number of other industries too. To underline this fact, total OOH revenue peaked at $38 billion in 2017, with physical media such as traditional billboards accounting for $24.5 billion in total.

Below, we’ll look at the benefits of OOH advertising when promoting your restaurant, while asking how you can leverage this medium successfully.

Marketing Your Local Restaurant – Understanding the Basics

Before we delve into the benefits of OOH advertising in the hospitality sector and how best to leverage this, it’s important to understand the fundamental principles that underpin restaurant marketing.

It’s important to note that the landscape has shifted considerably in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdown measures in the UK, with even local restaurants required to close completely to in-person bookings.

However, these entities have been largely allowed to remain open for the provision of takeaway and delivery services, which has always provided a viable source of revenue for local restaurants but is currently underpinning their entire business model.

So, while promoting your restaurant’s takeaway services should always be part of your wider marketing plan, it’s now more important than ever to invest more in advertising this element of your business.

Interestingly, we’ve seen an increase of 39% in UK food deliveries over the course of the last three years, with takeaways now contributing an average 10% to restaurant turnovers.

Uber eats delivery driver

The rapid rise in food delivery orders is largely attributed to the increased prevalence of third-party apps such as Deliveroo, Uber Eats and Just of Eat, the latter of which was the largest service provider of its type in 2019.

So, making your delivery services available through one or more of these apps should underpin any successful marketing campaign, as this will increase your reach and the potential market size that you can target within a local catchment area.

You’ll also need to map out the potential customer journey when ordering takeaway from your restaurant, by determining the various other ways in which individuals can order food to be delivered.

You may maintain a phone line through which customers can order food directly, for example, or have a fully developed website complete with online ordering functionality. From here, you can determine which channels are most popular and widely used by customers, before formulating a marketing campaign based on this information.

But what does this mean in relation to OOH marketing? Well, you may decide that you want to run a sales promotion that incentivises customers to order food directly through your website.

In this instance, you could create a discount voucher or QR code and advertise this prominently on local and strategically placed ads within your catchment area.

This should offer a tangible discount on orders that reach a minimum value threshold, while we’d also recommend using concise and active text to create a sense of urgency amongst potential customers.

If you want to measure the effectiveness of this campaign, you could also ensure that the voucher or QR code that you utilise is used exclusively on OOH ads. This way, you can tracks the number of sales that arise as a direct result of the campaign and determine a more accurate ROI on your marketing spend.

You could even create a dedicated microsite and landing pages to manage discounted takeaway orders, establishing another avenue through which to measure the effectiveness of your campaign.

What are the Benefits of OOH Advertising for Local Restaurants?

If your previous marketing campaigns have been consumed by digital media, you may be a little skeptical about the merits of OOH advertising.

We’re not saying that you eschew digital marketing channels completely, however, as OOH advertising is often most effective when used as part of an integrated marketing campaign that assists conversions through several channels.

To understand this further, let’s take a look at some of the key benefits of OOH advertising and how they relate to local restaurants.


People eating


OOH is Larger than Life and Reaches a Huge Targeted Audience

If you own a local restaurant, the chances are that you’ll be targeting potential customers and footfall from the surrounding region.

Still, you’ll need to reach as many target customers as possible within these geographical restrictions, as in many ways OOH advertising is ideal for this purpose.

In general terms, OOH advertising reaches more than 90% of the population, with large format billboards particularly effective at capturing and holding the attention of local consumers (we’ll have a little more on this later).

This means that you can maintain an optimal reach within almost any geographical location, increasing the efficiency of your marketing campaign from the outset as a result.

When it comes to geographic targeting within a specific region, it’s fair to say that OOH media is unrivaled as an advertising channel. After all, you can position media right in a precise and strategically selected location, right down to a specific longitude and latitude in your chosen destination.

So if the bulk of your target market resides in a specific part of town, you can use OOH media to engage this demographic with devastating accuracy.


OOH Advertising Boasts High Levels of Engagement

Apparently, people are 33% more alert on average when they’re out of the home, and if this isn’t validation for OOH advertising we’re not sure what is.

We’re also more active and purposeful when outdoors, and these attributes undoubtedly make us more amenable to interaction and the prospect of brand engagement.

The issue of purposefulness is particularly interesting, with studies suggesting that we have a 28% higher propensity to take action when viewing OOH media in comparison with social and online ads.

The key takeaway here is that we’re more inclined to book a table at a restaurant when we interact with one of their OOH advertisements, and this lends itself to higher conversion rates and an optimised ROI in relation to marketing spend.

Even more intriguingly, OHH is thought to drive an outsized share of online searches, meaning that targeted customers are more likely to seek out your website and make a reservation.

According to the OOH Online Activation Survey, outdoor media generates a level of social media activity that is four times higher than would be expected given the relative ad spend. In total, OOH advertising accounts for 26% of online activations across search Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, despite only accounting 7% of the combined marketing spend.


OOH Media is Cheaper and Surprisingly Profitable

The ROI of OOH media is at the heart of its appeal among local restaurants, who may be forced to operate within a relatively restrictive budget.

Make no mistake; OOH advertising encompasses a number of affordable marketing channels such as traditional billboards, while it also optimises the level of exposure enjoyed by brands within their chosen location.


Even digital billboards are relatively inexpensive in relation to some social and online marketing channels, although these will cost more than traditional alternatives and may force you to share advertising space.

We’ve also touched on the profitable nature of OOH, and there are couple of factors that contribute to this.

Aside from its low cost and capacity for driving a disproportionately high proportion of online activations, OOH media also works superbly well as part of an integrated marketing campaign.

In essence, this means that it can optimise the ROI of your spend across all marketing channels, by providing a higher rate of assisted conversions both on and offline. Whether this is represented by a higher volume of online bookings or a simple increase in website traffic, you can bet your bottom dollar that your OOH media has played a pivotal role in influencing the behaviour of customers.


Now for the Important Part – How to Leverage OOH Media on Behalf of your Restaurant

With these points in mind, it’s hard to argue with the notion that OOH media is an effective marketing tool for your local restaurant.

However, this means little unless you’re able to successfully leverage this potential and realise the full potential of OOH channels through your campaigns.

So how can this be done, we hear you ask? Let’s take a look:


Invest in Large Format Billboards

If you consider the potential audience reach of OOH advertising, one of the most important considerations is the specific vehicle that you use to target your local customers.

After all, this must not only build awareness of your brand and its visual identity, but it must also be striking enough to capture the attention of passing customers.

As we alluded to earlier, large format billboards are ideal if you’re to achieve these goals. Large traditional billboards are particularly effective, and there a few reasons for this.

This medium is extremely affordable, for example, meaning that 48 or 96-sheet billboards can be booked in prime locations for an extended period of time even with a modest budget.

Ilkley Food Billboard

These larger-than-life billboards will also turn heads regardless of their location, while they can also be used to target football at busy roadsides and along popular commuter routes.

Remember, traditional billboards also optimise your restaurant’s exposure as they don’t require you to share advertising space, and this can be crucial when looking to make an impression and capture the attention of customers when they’re on the move.


Direct Customers to Take a Specific Action

OK, so OOH media is capable of driving relatively high levels of engagement among customers.

This is obviously great news, but if you’re to fully capitalise on this you’ll need to tailor your OOH campaign in order to solicit specific actions from customers in response.

Your call-to-action (CTA) will be crucial here, as this should be showcased prominently on your choice of OOH media and present a concise message to customers. Ideally, this should relate to the action that you’d like them to take next, whether this is to interact further through the website or make a reservation using an exclusive promotional offer.

This type of incentive is also crucial in campaigns that have a specific objective, as opposed to those that are simply looking to increase brand awareness or recognition in the local area.

Also, don’t forget to include the relevant contact information on your advert, prioritising the channels that you hope to direct customers to.


When it comes to Imagery, Go big or Go Home

While CTAs and contact information are central to any OOH advert, imagery often makes the difference between successful and failed campaigns. This is particularly true in the case of local restaurants, who often operate in a competitive market and initially rely on images to sell their menus.

Make no mistake; the imagery that you use is crucial to the potential impact of your adverts, and not only in terms of capturing the initial attention of passers-by.

In fact, when written or audible messaging is presented alongside a relevant image, people tend to retain 65% of this information on average. In contrast, we only remember around 10% of plain copy or speech, so campaigns without bold or relevant imagery could well fall flat.

Food billboard Ilkley

As a restaurant owner, you should therefore go big or go home when using images in your campaigns, as you look to leverage large and bold pictures of specific dishes to whet the appetite of specific customers.

Just try to maintain a colour scheme that is consistent with your brand where possible, while trying to use images that are relevant to the campaign and its primary messaging.


Optimise Sales Through an Integrated Marketing Strategy

As we can see, execution is key when attempting to create an effective OOH campaign for your restaurant.

We’ve also touched on the fact that OOH is most effective when used as part of an integrated marketing strategy, and understanding this is crucial to achieving a viable return on your investment.

There are undoubtedly numerous benefits to adopting an holistic approach to local advertising, especially if you put OOH channels at the front and centre of your strategy.

Studies have revealed that people who see an OOH advert are 17% more likely on average to interact with the associated brand or campaign through their smartphone, for example, making it a key driver of assisted conversions across a range of online platforms (especially with m-commerce on the rise throughout Europe).

When you also consider the aforementioned fact that OOH now accounts for the largest percentage of online activations on Twitter and Instagram amongst offline marketing channels, we see just how effective billboards and similar entities can be as part of a broader, multi-faceted campaign.

With this type of holistic marketing approach, you can ultimately optimise the reach of your brand while driving further interaction and sales conversions through a wide range of online and social channels.

So, the question that remains is how else can you target customers within your local area as part of such a campaign?

Clearly, social media advertising through Twitter, Instagram and Facebook can be highly effective, so joining local or industry-specific groups (such as Leeds Vegetarians and Vegans Group on Facebook) can boost your brand significantly.

Promote your restaurant in local social media groups

Another key element of your integrated campaign should focus on utilising local SEO, initially by ensuring that you business listings are listed (and updated) comprehensively and accurately on platforms such as Google My Business and Yelp.

This provides a solid foundation for your campaign, while it can also create a level of consistency between the business information listed online and the contact details used to drive interaction through individual OOH ads.

This is central to the practice of building brand awareness and driving recognition amongst customers, while the targeted nature of local SEO improves the reach of your brand in key regions and communities.

Beyond this, the distribution of regular email newsletters (either monthly or quarterly) and SMS marketing can prove effective, especially when attempting to re-engage and target past customers.

This is important from a cost perspective, as it remains at least five times cheaper to retain existing customers than acquire new ones.
So, if you have a solid foundation of existing customer data and want to encourage this demographic to visit your restaurant or make use of your food delivery services, you can leverage the contact details at your disposal and promote real and limited-time promotions through SMS.

You can also utilise OOH ads in strategically important locations to raise further awareness about this promotional campaign, sharing the details of the offer and any relevant discount code in the process.

This type of advertising technique can be incredibly cost-effective and generative in terms of ROI, while it also highlights the outstanding potential of integrated marketing campaigns for local businesses.

The Last Word

So there you have it; our brief guide to the benefits of OOH advertising for local restaurant owners and some tips on how to successfully leverage these through outdoor campaigns.

Just remember that OOH media is often most effective when used as part of an integrated campaign, especially as a high proportion of your conversions will probably take place through digital channels.

Book your billboard today.
Book your billboard today.

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