The image you portray at a trade show should emulate your restaurant theme so that there’s no disconnect when people stop by your establishment. By including your restaurant theme’s colors and decor, you help build a better-known brand, an important aspect of your marketing strategy when it comes to standing out from the other restaurant choices people have in your area.
Hand out fun and interesting promotional items related to your restaurant. For example, sports-themed restaurants might hand out golf divot fixers or balls imprinted with the company name and phone number. Music-themed restaurants might want to give out key chains in the shape of guitars or jukeboxes. Pass out bright red lobsters if your restaurant has a seafood or general maritime theme. If your restaurant is western/cowboy-style, give out miniature cowboy hats or horses with your restaurant name etched across the front.
Draw attention to your booth by hiring talent related to your restaurant’s theme, such as bringing in a 1950s band if your theme is the early years of rock and roll, complete with jukeboxes and waitresses on roller skates. If your restaurant caters to families with children, hire a clown to paint their faces or bring in a magician willing to teach kids simple tricks. Ask the talent to stand outside of your booth and perform to help draw people to your booth.
Take photos of people as they poke their heads through a life-size cardboard cutout that’s designed to resemble the theme of your restaurant, such as a scene featuring horses and a cactus if your restaurant provides southwestern decor and food. Hang a sign with the name of your restaurant on the cutout so each time the person looks at the photo or shares it with someone else, your restaurant name gets more attention. Provide a print copy for visitors to take home, or give them a digital image so they can send it to people from their mobile phone. Attach a coupon good at your restaurant to each photo you process to prompt people to head to your venue.
Giving away free samples of food offers a way to introduce people to your menu, such as providing shrimp rolls if you own a maritime-themed restaurant. Find out if your booth provides enough electrical power necessary to serve hot or cold food items at the right temperature. If not, you may want to hand out samples that don’t require any refrigeration or heat, such as small desserts decorated with the flag of the appropriate country if your restaurant’s theme is based on a particular region’s cuisine. Use small plates and napkins with your restaurant name and logo on them to help build your brand while people enjoy the samples.
Nancy Wagner is a marketing strategist and speaker who started writing in 1998. She writes business plans for startups and established companies and teaches marketing and promotional tactics at local workshops. Wagner’s business and marketing articles have appeared in “Home Business Journal,” “Nation’s Business,” “Emerging Business” and “The Mortgage Press,” among others. She holds a B.S. from Eastern Illinois University.