3 ways to use impulse in your restaurant marketing ideas

Sara Detrik
Marketing Manager

It’s no secret that our attention spans aren’t what they used to be. A recent study by the Technical University of Denmark found that our attention spans narrow over time. There’s been a considerable change in our collective attention spans brought about by social media and a 24/7 news cycle. To put it simply:

Traditional restaurant & hospitality marketing and service selling tactics aren’t going to cut it anymore.

Upselling and marketing both need a face-lift for the new collective attention span. Rather than culling the entire scope of your brand into 8 seconds, we recommend taking a different route: zeroing in on impulse

Read now: How to turn guests into lifelong patrons

An impulse is “a sudden spontaneous inclination or incitement to some usually unpremeditated action.” Pushing a guest to make these quick choices is the future of marketing and restaurant sales. How does the hospitality industry trigger these sudden and snap decisions? Simple! By revamping your restaurant’s marketing strategy according to the three A’s that motivate buyers: 

  • Attention
  • Adventure
  • Accessibility

1. Attention

Outside of being disappointed by humanity, there’s a positive way to look at our new dwindling attention span. We’ve become masters at filtering information at a rapid rate and making in-the-moment decisions if the content we’re viewing is worth our time. Entrepreneur Magazine addressed this point of view in 2018 when scientists theorized we had less of an attention span than a goldfish (9 seconds).

Graphic showing the decrease in human attention span between 2000-2015.
SOURCE: The Human Attention Span by Digital Information World

This is why clickbait headlines do so well — they create mystery and give just enough content to stop scrollers dead in their tracks. Psychology Today dives into why Clickbait works. Using these methods effectively in your marketing plan captures your audience's attention both in life and online to drive sales.

By creating mystery and then delivering promised content, clicking on a link or scanning a QR code triggers dopamine in your brain (the neurotransmitter responsible for feelings of reward and motivation). Not clicking or scanning to find out more creates a negative response like an itch making you wish you’d interacted.

You want your restaurant guests to stop and find out more — use your restaurant’s marketing strategy to take advantage of the first impulse activation step and gain their attention through brain chemistry.

2. Adventure

‘FOMO,’ the Fear of Missing Out, has become a massive motivator for buying among millennials. As one of the largest money spending generations, 60% of millennial consumers said they make a reactive purchase after experiencing FOMO, most often within 24 hours. FOMO is another psychological facet of impulse, triggering responses of envy that millennials often construe as a positive motivator rather than a negative.

FOMO stems from self-perception and the fear of being excluded. As humans, we’re a species that thrives on connection and inclusion to survive. When we experience FOMO, we’re triggering a stress reaction stemming from pack abandonment.

Youths dancing at an indoor party.

Those in the restaurant industry can take advantage of this psychological phenomenon by triggering that envy response. After catching the attention of your guests, the next step is to create FOMO.

Regarding restaurant marketing ideas, this looks like countdown clocks, marketing items as “limited availability,” and creating the feeling of scarcity. Using these tools in your restaurant’s marketing taps into buyers' motivation and encourages your guests to make those snap impulse decisions you need to boost your bottom line.

3. Accessibility

Create an action-oriented final step in your marketing to secure sales. Impulse relies on the few milliseconds it takes your brain to release dopamine for interaction and activates stress and fear. If your restaurant doesn’t have the action-step readily available and accessible, the chemical reaction fizzles out and decreases a guest’s motivation to buy.

Individual holding a sparkler trying to make it big on Tumblr.

Create accessibility in your restaurant or bar’s marketing plan with tools like a link to your menu in a social media post or a scannable QR code. It can even be as simple as enabling guests to keep a tab open at the bar, increasing the motivation to make additional purchases during their time at your venue.  

Impulse is the restaurant marketing tool of the future.

We may all be walking around like goldfish with legs, but that doesn’t mean the end of civilization as we know it. The savvy restaurant owner takes advantage of the new normal for our collective attention span and adapts their restaurant’s marketing strategy to fit it. After all, society is all about adapting to the unique challenges we face daily.

Looking for more ways to boost revenue for your business? Check out “How to improve your restaurant’s reviews to drive new sales” for more tips and tricks on capturing guests’ attention.

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