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Traditional marketing refers to marketing campaigns that use mass media such as radio, television, and print. However, as the market becomes oversaturated with commercials, marketers are seeking for new ways to contact customers. Alternative marketing entails discovering and developing innovative and creative programs. Finding innovative ways for customers to interact with a business, then developing the most attention-grabbing marketing messages.

Buzz marketing, guerrilla marketing, lifestyle marketing, experiential marketing, and product placement marketing are the five categories of Alternative Marketing. These five programs are typically combined with having the most influence on customers.

The truth is that it all boils down to their marketing approach and how well they’ve promoted their company and spread the news around town. However, in today’s digital world, where consumer choices are determined by mobile phones and social media, word-of-mouth recommendations or a local newspaper ad will not suffice.

Restaurant businesses must improve their marketing efforts and include digital approaches to ensure success. Below are some alternative marketing options you might need to consider for your small-scale food business.

Buzz Marketing

Buzz Marketing is also known as word-of-mouth marketing. Buzz marketing can occur in several different ways. The most commonly considered occurs when customers who enjoyed the brand, or a product recommend it to their friends and family.  But, buzz can also be created by endorsing brand ambassadors, these are people who often hold significant sway with a large group of people.

Brand ambassadors create buzz by introducing new products, or providing information on products, and recommending the products to their followers. Another popular way to create buzz for a company is to showcase employees, this tactic is called employer branding. This tactic shows consumers, that employees are proud of the company they work for, and creates trust.

Guerrilla Marketing

Successful guerrilla marketing is known for quick results and anti-typical resources. Marketing teams take great risks trying out unusual approaches, but with great risk comes great reward. Guerrilla marketing often uses “a combination of media, advertising, public relations, and surprises to reach consumers” according to Kenneth Clow and Donald Baack.  Guerrilla marketing is often based largely on psychology and human behavior. It requires targeting smaller groups, or individuals.  This form of marketing requires large amounts of energy as it is aggressive and must appear to be natural to consumers and not forced.

Lifestyle Marketing

Lifestyle marketing is a more laid-back form of marketing that utilizes demographics, and target audience interest to reach consumers. By identifying the common hobbies and interests of a company’s current customers, the company can select venues that allow them to reach current and potential customers.

These venues may be laid back like at local farmers markets or excitable events. The venues selected are where the company believes onlookers would be more inclined to purchase their product. Red Bull often takes part in this by sponsoring extreme sporting events such as racing, flying, or skateboarding.

Experiential Marketing

Experiential Marketing uses a combination of several marketing strategies such as personal selling and consumer experience. This marketing tactic often involves hands-on experiences for consumers, in which they are able to try products or receive free samples. These campaigns can be created using 3 steps. The first is to choose a small target audience, and the second is choosing times and opportunities that fit with that Target audience and allows them to engage with the brand.

The third is to ensure that the experience proves that the brand is reliable and viable for the audience.  An example of this might be if a sun lotion company invited potential customers to a lush pool party where they provided samples of their product for swimmers and tanners to enjoy.

Product Placement Marketing

Product placement is the planned placement of a product into production. Pepsi and Coke are experts at this. The products are nonchalantly placed in areas of entertainment for consumers to unconsciously notice. A great example of this would be from the new movie Bohemian Rhapsody.

When the band Queen reunited to play for the Live Aid concert, Pepsi is placed on top of the piano in clear sight as they enter the stage. The reason product placement occurs so often is because it is believed that associating the product with positive feelings of a movie, TV show or concert, it will lead to awareness and positive attitudes toward the brand.

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Here are some tips on how to build an effective marketing strategy:

1. Create a killer website

Websites make it easy for your potential customers to find you, and are the first step to establishing your online presence. But they don’t have to be expensive or complex to develop. There are lots of tools and platforms available to help you set up your own, professionally-designed, website.

For example, Wix.com or SquareSpace.com offer a wide range of templates that you can pick from. Just make sure that you build in a responsive menu, and update your website regularly – including your menu, opening hours and news.

2. Use Social Media

Did you know that there are over 200 million posts tagged #food and 23 million with #drinks? Social media is taking the industry by storm – and it’s time you hop on the bandwagon.

Restaurants that have a social media presence are not only easier to find and interact with, but can also help you pull in extra revenue – especially if your design or menu is eye-catching (or you happen to go viral).

If you’re not up for tackling every platform, just go for the big 2: Instagram and Facebook. Post swoon-worthy food pictures and keep your audience informed of your latest news and menu additions. A great way to get new followers is to start with a competition in the form of a giveaway.

3. Offer a loyalty program

Because who doesn’t love rewards? Loyalty programs encourage your customers to keep coming back, driving repeat revenue. Opt for a digital loyalty program, so your customers can keep track of their rewards and receive tailored offers based on their consumption patterns. And as a bonus, you’ll generate lots of user data to help you make your offering more targeted.

4. Set up your Google Maps business profile

When people get hungry, they tend to run a search in their phone to find the best eatery close by. And compared to other apps, Google Maps is 6 times more popular with smartphone users. So make sure that people can find you if they’re looking for a quick bite. Update your profile and check that your menu, opening hours, phone number are correct – and upload some photos to let people know what to expect.

5. Partner with a delivery service

Research shows that take-away sales have increased 8% over the last few years, and customers who place an online order have a 95% chance of returning to your establishment. Offering a delivery option not only expands your customer base, but gives your existing customers the freedom to enjoy their favorite meals wherever they go. To start with, partner with a delivery service – like Uber Eats or Deliveroo. While they do charge a hefty commission fee (sometimes up to 15%), they can help you increase your exposure, and boost your revenue by 10 to 20%.

6. Monitor your reviews

Online reviews are like a double-edged sword. While they may not seem like much, they can (quite literally) make or break your success. In fact, 88% of people are influenced by reviews and online comments, so it’s best you make sure to track what people are saying about you, and are there in time to react. Monitor key platforms like Google Maps, Yelp and Tripadvisor and respond to negative comments swiftly (and with an empathetic tone). After all, the customer is king, right?

7. Team up with food bloggers

Popular bloggers have an incredible amount of influence on their followers, and food blogging is just about the hottest new trend. Reach out to a few of your biggest local influencers and invite them to come for a menu testing and exclusive event that’s organized just for the social elite. Before you know, it people will be lining up to get in.

8. Encourage user-generated content

Research shows that Millennials trust user-generated content 50% more than any form of media. This could be in the form of blog posts, Insta stories, or Facebook posts. This is especially easy if your restaurant offers a feature wall, or has a design or unique food presentation that’s Insta-friendly. Encourage your customers to share their stories and tag you. It will give you brand credibility and let people know that you’re worth talking about.

Regardless of which tactics you use, keep in mind that your marketing strategy should be:

  • Data-driven: Look to the past to predict the future. Data is your single biggest asset and can help you reveal the strengths and weaknesses of your business so that you can make smarter, better-informed decisions.
  • Measurable: Set clear KPIs for your campaigns and targets for what you’re trying to achieve. Measuring your success (or lack thereof) will help you develop more targeted communications.
  • Emotional: Food is emotional, so your communications should be, too. Rather than the product, sell the experience of eating – the love, happiness, joy, and comfort – and you’ll be more likely to strike an emotional cord with your consumers.
  • Multi-faceted: Depending on your target audience, you may choose a different mix of channels. Make sure to spread your presence across a range of different platforms – i.e. digital, tv, print, radio – to capture your audience, wherever they might be.
  • Relevant: Make sure that your communications and your message is relevant to your target consumer. If you’re a local business, get involved with your community, and talk about your local issues and topics that are relevant to them.

What Are Effective Marketing Strategies For A Food & Beverage Business?

To be able to sustain a food and beverage business the first essential ingredient is to be able to make good food. Whether you are a chef or hiring multiple chefs, or even starting your own bakery, you need to know what your potential customer wants or in other words, create the want for your product offerings.

Below are some other marketing strategies that will help your business grow.

Brand Positioning Your Restaurant

So what is your outlet or restaurant offering exactly? Are you a bakery or a bistro? Do you identify yourself with the people in your area or rather do they identify with your offering? If you are a Mexican restaurant that offers amazing fish tacos in an area where people love American steaks and burgers, you have two things to establish.

Firstly you have to make people aware that tacos are yummy too and secondly, you score advantage of being the first one of your kind in that area. You also need to realize whether you want to be a family restaurant offering beverages for the whole family or also wish to offer beer like ‘Chilli’s’ does.

If you are a coffee shop do you want to relate to the executives who are picking up cups of coffee and rushing or the struggling writers sitting with their laptops trying to make magic happen. Hence, you have to be sure about your target audience before you make any move. It is, however, essential to know what you are also expecting off your customers.

Packaging Your Product

Let’s go by the old adage, “A book is judged by its cover” in the same way a product is judged by its packaging. One of the biggest ingredients that marketing professionals concentrate on is the packaging of the product.

This does not only include the literal packaging. Rather, it starts with the basic logo design of your brand to the menu card and how it is presented on the table. Sometimes the logos on your cutlery can have a strong impact on your consumers.

The stirrer offered with your cocktail can also showcase your brand logo, and this will remind people of your bar every time they see it. People hire professionals to make a simple yet effective logo from companies such as Designhill.

They not only create a logo that is customized to your requirement but also convenient for all the other collaterals of stationery that the logo will appear on, such as business cards, brochure design, menus, advertising materials such as posters or digital ads or Google ads.

Make A Statement With Your USP

Perhaps your angel investor or your partner is investing in your idea because there is potential in it. The biggest potential that most investors see is the USP or the Unique Selling Point, which can be anything from making the best cream cheesecakes in town to using only organic or vegan ingredients in the menu for your food truck.

Hence, it should be showcased in your packaging. For example, a brand as simple as Baskin & Robbins stands out because it makes an effort to come up with new flavors every month.


Your SEO strategy starts with an online blog. The best place to begin is by having your own blog on your website. You can integrate this with your other social media platforms as well like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter so that each post gets multiplied and creates a good impact.

This is your best communication channel where you can create a huge following for your brand.

You can also start partnering with professional food bloggers and ask them to review or write about your business. This way you end up reaching out to more people and can enjoy a more dominant online presence.


There are numerous ways to sell your product. From eye-catching cover and packaging designs to something as simple but vital as the boxes used to transport your meals. The goal is to understand the psychology of your target consumer pool before developing and constantly reinventing your brand.

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