guerrilla marketing for restaurants
by Laura-Andreea Voicu

Are you looking for something to shake your restaurant marketing strategy to the core? Then look no further than guerrilla marketing for restaurants. Low-cost and low-risk, it is a wonderful strategy that will awaken your creative side and help you have fun while bringing in new customers and energizing your brand name. For unique guerrilla marketing ideas for restaurants, read on.

What Is Guerrilla Marketing?

Before we get into the why and how of restaurant guerrilla marketing, let’s look at the what by defining the term. Guerrilla marketing is a type of marketing that uses unconventional and surprising methods to promote services or products.

These often entail direct interactions with customers, with the goal of causing an emotional reaction that will stick with people for a long time. While it’s not as widespread as other types of marketing, it can truly be a gamechanger for your restaurant if you have the open-mindedness and courage to try it.

Is Guerrilla Marketing Illegal?

Now, I’ve probably scared you by using the word courage. Not to mention the name “guerrilla marketing” makes it sound aggressive and confrontational. You might even ask yourself if it’s illegal. The answer is no if you abide by some rules.

Many brands have indeed suffered the consequences of taking guerrilla marketing too far. But that doesn’t mean all forms of guerrilla marketing are illegal. As long as you don’t break any laws like Coca-Cola did when they graffitied New Orleans historic areas without permission, you will be fine.

You can still be provocative without doing illegal things. If you’re unsure whether your idea would break any laws, please talk to a lawyer before you do anything that might jeopardize you and your business.

Benefits of Guerilla Marketing for Restaurants

Now that I’ve cleared up that guerrilla marketing is nothing to be afraid of let’s see why you should, in fact, welcome it and why having a guerrilla restaurant marketing strategy is a good idea.

1. Cost-effective

One of the main benefits of guerrilla marketing for restaurants, especially small, family-owned ones, is that it doesn’t cost a lot to implement. Successful guerrilla marketing is not about spending a lot of money but about being creative and thinking outside the box. You will invest time and intellectual resources but not as much money.

2. Viral potential

From digital guerrilla marketing to more traditional types, bold choices like these have the potential to make your brand viral on social media. People love to retweet and share campaigns that they like and that bring something unique to the market.

You might also like: Restaurant Marketing Tips Proven to Attract More Customers

3. Long-term benefits

Because most guerilla marketing ideas are hard to shake, they linger both in people’s heads and online for a long time. That means it’s not only going to bring you increased business when you launch it but for a long while after too (if done right, of course).

4. Makes your restaurant stand out

Not many restaurants do guerrilla marketing, which allows you to be a trailblazer. Whether you choose to shock people, make them laugh, or appeal to a deeper emotion, they will remember your brand and the fact that you delivered something unique to the industry.

5. Fun!

Last but not least, I advise you to give guerrilla marketing for restaurants a shot because you will have a great time doing it. Think of it as your chance to be creative and do something fun together with your staff.

10 Guerrilla Marketing Ideas for Restaurants

1. Decorate city sidewalks

After you’ve made sure it isn’t against the law, grab some temporary paint and go “paint the town red.” You can recreate images paintings found in your restaurant (especially if they’re done by local artists) and add a little tag letting people know where they can see the real thing.

You can also write lovely, positive messages that people desperately need to hear during these trying times. That way, when they go on their daily walk, they’ll have a reason to smile and be curious about the brand that did this.

2. Storm local institutions and businesses

Introduce more people to your business by grabbing a bagful of promotional materials and visiting other local businesses like shops and hotels, institutions like universities, or public spaces like train stations.

Leave flyers promoting your delivery service, napkins that feature your logo, signs with your branding, even t-shirts. To make even more noise, tag the materials with a coupon code that people who see them can use for a discount.

3. Ask for permission to graffiti some buildings

There are plenty of building owners that would love beautiful, artistic graffiti on their building. Come up with a concept and propose the idea to local landlords. You don’t need more than a sprayed-on logo to brand it as yours – the rest can just be for the people to enjoy.

People who pass it daily will definitely get your brand stuck in their heads and might decide to visit you. Even if they don’t at that time, if they like the graffiti, they will associate a positive message with your restaurant, which is still a win for your brand.

4. Infiltrate local events

As long as you don’t step on anyone’s toes and disrupt the event in any significant way, you can make an appearance at local events like music festivals, sporting events, concerts, and so on. But not just any appearance – one that people will remember.

Most guerilla marketing ideas for events like these involve wearing costumes and masks. You can even do a choreographed dance and end it with a shower of business cards for all the people watching you.

5. Brand your delivery vehicle

Your car or scooter can be a walking (well, driving) promotional billboard for your restaurant. Add your branding to it, from logo to motto, website, address, and contact information. To make passersby crave your food, include a picture as well.

6. Stick QR stickers around town

Few guerilla marketing restaurant ideas are actually complicated. QR stickers that instantly open your online menu when someone accesses them are fabulous and straightforward. You not only help customers eliminate a ton of steps, but you also surprise them and give your food a chance to draw them in at first glance.

Install the world's easiest online ordering system No headaches for your staff OR your customers

7. Hire a sign spinner or a mascot

You know sign spinners – those who stand in front of businesses with an arrow-shaped sign meant to drive people inside. They may or may not be dressed as a mascot; it depends on the budget you have.

If you’re worried you can’t afford one, post a job offer at your local university. College kids are always looking for ways to make money, and they won’t charge you a lot.

8. Project a commercial or BTS video on the sides of buildings

If you’ve ever made a commercial for your restaurant, an excellent way to repurpose it, which is something many guerilla advertising ideas do, is to project it somewhere in the city, on the side of a building. People are curious beings, and you can bet they will stop in their tracks and check it out.

If you don’t have a commercial, you can also shoot a behind-the-scenes video following one of your employees using a free video editor. For instance, a clip titled “A day in the life of a chef” might be something people are interested in watching. Better yet, if you plan on releasing a new menu item, project some mouth-watering clips of it as a teaser.

This type of guerrilla marketing for restaurants might also require some permits from the city, so be sure to get those before you project anything.

9. Create a pop-up stand for a week

Temporarily move your business elsewhere to get new customers and introduce more people to your brand by building a pop-up stand. Make your mobile restaurant stand out (like a burger-shaped stand if you sell burgers) and come with a unique proposition like an exclusive menu item.

10. Hand out eco-friendly takeout containers

Branded with your logo and made of recycled materials, these containers will be the talk of the town. Hand them out around your restaurant and encourage people to bring them when they order pickup from your restaurant to get a discount.

That’s a Wrap

I hope the ideas above persuaded you that guerilla marketing for restaurants is unique, fun, and beneficial for your sales and brand recognition.

Have you ever tried it? I would love to hear some restaurant guerilla marketing examples from you, so tweet me @andreeaa_voicu.

photo of GloriaFood blog writer Laura-Andreea Voicu
Laura-Andreea Voicu

Laura-Andreea Voicu is an experienced content writer with a knack for marketing and SEO. She creates guides and resources designed to help restaurants grow their presence online and boost sales.

She has been featured on the Oracle Food and Beverage Blog and wrote for Search Engine Journal, Clutch, Sender, Venngage, Quickbooks, and many more.

Find me on LinkedIn.