Use A Commercial To Market Your Restaurant

Use A Commercial To Market Your Restaurant

Video technology has never been higher quality, more affordable and accessible than it is today. With the advent of the internet there are also more places for potential customers to engage with your restaurant commercial.

If you’re considering the opportunity to create a restaurant video commercial this guide will help you:

  • Decide where to show your commercial
  • Develop a restaurant video commercial concept
  • Tips for making your own video commercial
  • How to hire restaurant video professionals

Read More: Choosing a Restaurant Business Structure

Television Or Online?

This is perhaps the most important question when you’re planning your restaurant commercial. The best medium to distribute your commercial will depend on the particular circumstances.

Social media posts let you engage with your fans and get viral shares but a website offers something different to your visitors. It answers your guests' questions from your perspective and lets you control the conversation.

Consider these factors when deciding:

  • Budget — Setting a budget ahead of time helps put everything else into context.
  • Concept — Some commercial concepts are more suitable for television, YouTube or other online ads (Facebook, Instagram).
  • Your Customer — Your target customer determines where you’ll get the most bang for your buck. Remember that everything should be tailored to your specific audience.

Making A Local TV Commercial

Local TV is free over the airwaves and is pumped directly into thousands of homes via cable. This means your commercial has the potential to be seen by a very large number of people. Especially if you operate in a major metro.

Who Will See Your TV Commercial?

In terms of reach, the opportunity is to have your commercial seen by a very large number of people. The disadvantage is that you have little to no control over who these people are. You won’t know very much about them so it will be a challenge to provide sufficient motivation with your commercial to entice them.

That’s not to say it’s a lost cause. When you contact the TV station they will provide you with viewer statistics for the different shows on their network. Using these statistics, you can determine if the viewers match your target customer profile.

The program’s time of day, estimated number of viewers and their demographics will affect the price the station charges to air your commercial.

When Local TV Makes Sense

Choosing to produce a local TV commercial can be beneficial for your restaurant business, especially if you can afford a time slot that reaches the right market segment.

For example, if you know that people who just got off work are watching. If your restaurant does delivery you can capitalize on the busy lifestyle of those viewers looking for a quick dinner option.

Most local TV stations also offer packages that include production of your commercial. This means they can help you develop the concept, write the script, hire actors, shoot and edit your restaurant commercial.

These all-in-one production and air-time deals can fetch higher upfront costs than if you do it yourself. But it’s worth considering this if it’s your first rodeo. You’ll have the opportunity to work with professionals and see how things are done.

Read More: Social Media for Restaurant Marketing

Making an Online Restaurant Commercial

Online commercials are distributed on websites such as YouTube or through social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. While these services do offer tools to help you target your ideal viewers, unlike a local TV station they do not offer options to include production services in the package.

Who Will See Your Web Commercial?

Unlike the broadcasting on TV, online ads can be carefully targeted to people who match a detailed profile that you’ve defined.

While you’ll pay to have your ad shown to anyone who fits your target demographics, there is an added benefit of free views from those already following your page.

Your ads will be targeted to the user’s unique profile, rather than by time of day. This removes the barrier of too-expensive time slots on a TV station.

‘Less Is More’ With Online Commercials

Depending on your priorities, far fewer people are likely to ever see your ad. Although the upfront costs are less than a TV spot, the cost per-eyeball could be much higher. An online ad will have hundreds of highly targeted viewers. Whereas a TV commercial will have thousands of potential viewers.

Having targeted views from those people most likely to be interested is a good thing. And who can complain about lower costs? It really depends on who your target customer for your restaurant is.

For example, younger tech savvy people searching YouTube for “cats on motorcycles” are less likely to watch over-the-air broadcast TV. But if your target restaurant customer would likely be watching “Judge Judy” on a weekday afternoon, then that’s where your commercial should be.

How Online Commercials Work

There are two ways that your online commercial will be seen. One is from paid ads and “boosted” posts. The other is by your existing social media followers.

For paid ads and boosted posts, you’ll need to sign up with each of the services through their advertising partner links. From here you’ll be able to find pricing and details about how video advertising on these platforms works.

Read More: Choosing a Restaurant Business Structure

Developing Your Restaurant Commercial Concept

The type of commercial you decide to make will be directly tied to your target customer and the platform your commercial will be viewed on.

Because online ads have to capture your viewer’s attention, they are generally more eye-catching and short-form. TV ads have some expectation of being “in the background” so they can be longer and not as “in your face”.

When developing your restaurant commercial concept first consider the platform your specific target customer will be using.

Example Commercial Concept Categories:

To help you get started developing your basic concept, here are the most common types of video advertisements. Each of these can be tailored to the appropriate format -- online or broadcast TV.

Documentary – This type of commercial focuses on the facts and answers questions. What does the restaurant look like? Who works there? What kind of food is served? What can a guest expect to experience? If your restaurant has picturesque views, photogenic staff and food that photographs well this commercial can highlight those features to draw in guests.

Personality – A personality commercial features a spokesperson, like a salesperson, who explains all the great reasons to visit the restaurant. The strength of this commercial is based on the viewer’s ability to relate favorably to the personality. If you know someone famous or liked by many, that’s the right person for the job. You can combine personality with documentary to create a “tour guide” commercial.

Story – A story could be dramatic or comedic. This type of commercial captures people’s attention through their emotions. It takes your viewer on a journey. The payoff at the end is an emotional state that you want viewers to associate with your restaurant.

Owners of a cozy cafe targeting couples can tell a romantic story that ends at the restaurant. A steakhouse that wants to attract families can have a cowboy lassoing the kids to have a family meal. Telling a simple story quickly that your target customer can relate to is the key.

Montage – A montage is a series of pictures, text and graphics set to music. Often a voiceover is recorded as well. A montage is very affordable because you don’t need live actors or even cameras. This could be the most appealing choice for your first commercial out of simplicity, but the message can be powerful.

Animation - Animation isn’t a genre of commercial, but is a technique, like montage, that can help to keep production costs down. An animated spokesperson might be the likable character you need to make your commercial stand out.

DIY or Professional Commercial Production?

Once you’ve established your budget and developed a restaurant commercial concept you can decide if you want to produce your commercial yourself or hire professionals.

Think about your goals and consider how much time you have to dedicate to the project.

Going DIY

This is the golden age of digital media. With your iPhone’s 4K camera you can shoot video that looks nearly as good as some professional cameras. But you also have to follow the rules of good video.

To help you understand what’s involved in producing a great restaurant commercial, here is how to do it yourself:

  • Audio – What? I thought this was about video! There is a reason this is first on the list. Although you may not notice good audio everyone will notice bad audio. Audio must be clear, recorded at the proper levels and be free from echoes and background noises.

    The easiest way to achieve this is to have a microphone close to whomever is speaking. You can record voiceover in a studio, hide a microphone off camera or use a small lapel mic that clips on.

    You can record directly into your phone using an audio recording app at high quality. Just make sure to watch those level readings!

  • Lighting – While you can get away with recording in natural light for some situations, when shooting actors or interviews through the day, the chance of having perfect natural light at all times isn’t realistic.

    Lighting that is too dark or too bright can drive you crazy on set so be prepared with an inexpensive lighting kit. Also consider that the style of lighting plays a role in storytelling and mood.

  • Editing and Graphics – There are lots of free and low-cost video editing packages for Mac and PC. With a little practice, you shouldn’t have too much trouble getting your edits.

    You will also use your editing software to add music, text and graphics to your video. Keep in mind that your editing style also affects the mood and tone of your video.

Read More: Social Media for Restaurant Marketing

Go With The Pros

If your restaurant commercial concept is too ambitious for your DIY skill level don’t be ashamed. People spend a lifetime honing their craft. You can shortcut the learning curve by hiring a local professional videographer.

Every city has media professionals and hobbyists. Because of the wide range in skills and cost you’ll need to spend time interviewing and developing your idea with a hired gun. From student filmmakers to wedding videographers to commercial production companies you’ll have lots of options to choose from.

The complexity of your project and budget will largely dictate who you should work with. You can find local listings through a Google search or post a description of your project on

Top tips for hiring a video crew:

  • Your primary goal should be to find someone who is reliable.
  • View their portfolio to get a sense of past work. It’s also proof that they will get the job done.
  • Talk to previous clients if you can. This will help you understand what they are like to work with.
  • Make sure they are confident in bringing your vision to life - and within budget.
  • Get everything in writing and have a clear contract with stipulations. If you have a deadline, make sure it’s in the contract along with what happens if the deadline isn’t met.

Making your own restaurant commercial is an achievable goal for almost any budget. So get out there and get started!

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