We all love to surround the special moments in our lives with great food. As the saying goes, "Eat, drink and be merry!" Your restaurant is probably already doing great work to pull in business around big holidays like Thanksgiving and Mother's Day. (And if not, check out our 8 Tips to Increase Business During the Holidays and our guide to Use Big Events to Market Your Restaurant!)
But what about other meaningful days? Edge out the competition by offering special promotions and messaging around events that are important to your customers. Here are 10 ideas to get you started.
The Big (or Not-So-Big) Game
Maybe it's that Big Game - you know, the one with half-time entertainment and great commercials - or maybe your local team is on a winning streak. Either way, your restaurant can join in on the fun and capture the business of enthusiastic fans. Stream the game in your bar and offer game-time specials. Or promise a special deal based on the outcome of the game, like Taco Bell's "Steal a Base, Steal a Taco" promotion or George Webb handing out free burgers after the Milwaukee Brewers' 12th straight win.
When a hot band is coming to a nearby venue, you can be sure that the whole town will be there. You can capitalize on this even after the last note has been played. If you run a fun, casual establishment, think about extending your hours and creating a special "late night" menu to catch people after the show. Or, if it's a better fit for your restaurant, offer a special brunch the next day featuring menu items named after songs and discounted coffee for customers who present a ticket stub.
Local Marathon or 5K
If there's one group of people that love a good meal, it's runners! The day before a big race, runners want to "carb load" - the perfect opportunity to feature your best pasta dishes, maybe with a flyer in runners' goodie bags. Post-race celebrations often involve beer, which can be a great way to draw the race crowd in. You might even want to think about being an official sponsor or partner of the race: provide participants with a voucher for a free drink, and they'll come in with their full support crews in tow and order lunch. Get in touch with the race organizers and get the ball rolling!
Your hometown probably hosts some kind of annual festival. There are lots of ways to make this work in favor of your restaurant. If you have the capability, set up a booth to sell your signature dishes. Plus, as a bonus, it'll help promote your catering services. If the festival has a special focus or theme, craft a menu item around it. For example, a chocolate festival might inspire a choco-tini or cocoa-rubbed steak. No matter what, make sure festival goers know you're open for business!
School Inservice Day
The kids are out of school, and parents are out of patience. Offer a little relief by making your kids' meals half price. It shows your restaurant's community pride, and it makes Mom and Dad a little happier, too!
First Day of Fall
Leaves are falling, temperatures are dropping, and your customers are craving something with all the best flavors of the season. Let your customers know about your seasonal menu items. Remind them of the comfort they'll feel sipping a hot bowl of soup or devouring forkfuls of fresh-baked pie. If you put up special decorations, share a picture with your fans!
For your local high school or college, homecoming is probably a big deal. Alumni and families might be visiting from miles around, so why not show them some hometown hospitality? Decorate your restaurant in the school colors and show off pictures on your social media channels. If there's a high school dance, send out early reminders that you're taking reservations for dinner before the big event. You might even think about naming a drink or dish after the school's mascot for the weekend.
Many businesses just put this opportunity put into action, like Shake Shack offering free fries. Be careful, though - it's unlawful to offer promotions based strictly on whether a customer has voted. Just make sure any deal is available to anyone who asks for it. You could try giving $1 off to everyone who uses a code like "VOTE." Or spice up your social media engagement by posting about two menu items and asking followers to cast a vote for their favorite.
Here's your chance to say "Thanks, vets!" Many restaurants offer a free menu item to vets, like Red Lobster serving up free a free appetizer or dessert, but there are lots of other ways to show your appreciation. Pay tribute to the date by offering 11% off to veterans. Let your customers know about the awesome vets you have on staff. This would be also a great time to feature your all-American apple pie or a special treat that you can make red, white and blue for the day.
The Olympic Games
The Games only come around every other year, so make the most of them when you can. Show off your internationally-inspired cuisine by gathering one dish from each country on a "world showcase" menu. Or, offer up a discount based on how many times a US athlete has snagged gold.
There are countless special days that could be a great opportunity for your business. If you need more ideas, find a day celebrating a food or popular topic (like National Pizza Day on February 7 or Star Wars Day on May 4) and get creative!
No matter what you pick, make sure to let everyone know. A mobile app from Boelter Blue can send push notifications to your customer's phones, so they hear about all your great offerings at the right time and place. Contact the Boelter Blue team to get started today.