Marketing is a necessary element for growing a business in the food industry. Well-orchestrated marketing campaigns can see an increase in brand awareness, cover numbers, and most importantly – revenue. With so much competition, it can be hard for small, independent restaurants to make their mark on the hospitality industry; as marketing budgets are often minuscule compared to branded chain restaurants.

Along with online marketing and local press advertising, which have been the ingredients to success for many small businesses, controversial and unconventional marketing methods are now being adopted by restaurant and hotel owners in a bid to get their establishments noticed. With careful planning, an unconventional marketing campaign can really be the secret to success; it can kick-start a marketing buzz and result in valuable footfall.

Using Reverse Psychology in Marketing

Being knowledgeable about human psychology is incredibly useful when implementing unconventional marketing strategies. You need to know what makespeople tick, what evokes interest and what will get people itching to dine in your establishment. Using reverse psychology in marketing toys with the consumer’s emotions and, by offering a service which is deemed “sinful” or “unusual” by society you can provoke temptation from the customer to use your service.

When Unconventional Marketing is Successful

A TV documentary series named “The Hotel” demonstrates the possibilities of reverse psychology in marketing. The series follows the day-to-day running of a particular hotel over a certain period of time – focusing on guests, staff and events. The documentary often has comedic qualities and the staff are commonly portrayed to be dysfunctional, with humorous mishaps occurring on a regular basis. In one episode the owner of the hotel even jokingly admits he would never stay there as a guest. Whilst it sounds like the kind of hotel you’d entirely avoid, the more you watch the series the more you consider booking a weekend break there.

How It Could Work

People want to visit places they’ve seen on television, if for nothing more than to boast to others about their experience. Being able to say “I dined at that restaurant on the television” or sharing photographs of themselves on Facebook with the stars of the show seems an attractive concept to many people. Viewers also grow to love the characters on the particular show mentioned, and suddenly being able to meet them whilst visiting the establishment seems incredibly attractive. Plus, there’s always the thought “I might get on television” that crosses people’s minds.

When Unconventional Marketing is Unsuccessful

Whilst the “shock” factor of controversial marketing strategies can work wonders for your business, you have to strike a balance between eliciting a response of horror and being completely unethical. As was the case with the infamous American diner “Heart Attack Grill” which has an unusual concept of serving unbelievably calorific food which is widely recognized to be unhealthy with the slogan of “Taste Worth Dying For!” The diner has received mixed responses from those who believe it so unethical that it should be shut down, to those who visit there to “sin”.

Why It Could Go Wrong

The unfortunate event of a man having a heart attack whilst chomping through a burger at Heart Attack Grill has caused uproar around the world with people believing the diner to be morbid and sadistic. Since the incident it’s been reported by British newspaper The Mirror, that customer numbers have dropped. The fact that the name and the incident correspond sparks the question of whether it was a coincidence or whether the diner does actually possess an unethicalconcept.

Although shock tactics have always been present in marketing campaigns, linking a restaurant to an illness isn’t generally recommended. On the other side of the spectrum, there’s no doubt that Heart Attack Grill has gained more global publicity. It wouldn’t be preposterous to assume that tourists will be even more tempted to visit the place for the sheer novelty aspect of the experience; although the diner’s unlikely to sustain regular customers!

Unconventional Marketing – Yes or No?

Using unconventional marketing really depends on the nature of your business. Whilst it seems consumers can’t resist a bit of controversy and humor; for a corporate organization it may not be an appropriate method of marketing. With controversial methods comes high risk – you’ve got to be willing to take the chance and put the future of your business on the line, if you’re not then it may be best avoiding.

This guest post was written by Stephanie Staszko who works at Web Vitality SEO Manchester who provide online marketing solutions to local businesses. She spends all day writing guest blogs on a variety of different subjects ranging from how to use office supplies as weapons to skiing in Eastern Europe! You can catch her on Twitter @StephStaz for a range of different posts!