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As a consumer it might be too early to even mumble words like turkey or Black Friday—let alone Santa or holiday sales. As a marketer, though, you know it’s never too soon to start thinking about your holiday promotions. Maybe you’re still scratching your head about how to maximize the upcoming season, or perhaps you’re already in full throttle mode as you plan and execute your next killer campaign. These strategies for creating winning promotions will surely help you to improve in-restaurant sales, increase customer loyalty, and maybe even enjoy a little quality time with friends and family before ringing in the new year.

Start Promotions in November – Help customers transition into holiday planning by creating an urgency to book parties and catering menus in advance. Even if you aren’t already sending reminders to your customers, odds are good that your competitors are. Now is the time to generate interest and spark a desire to dine in or carry out this holiday season! Consider offering shopping-break dining promotions, special/seasonal menus and cocktails, events/entertainment, or gift-giving promotions. Also remember that the holidays are a great time to tug at consumers’ heartstrings; TGIFridays Give and Receive campaign offers an example one such strategy. Even quick-service restaurants (QSRs) can prepare for holiday sales with localized promotions such as partnerships with local charities, “give back to the community” drives, or Toys For Tots events. Remember that there are many great ways to spread the word about your special promotions or events at the point of purchase—decorate your drive-thru menus, parking lots, windows, doors, and tabletops to help generate interest this holiday season!

Use Mobile to Drive Customer Interaction Did you know that 80% of Millennials reported using the free Wi-Fi in a restaurant this past year?[1] Mobile shouldn’t be viewed as just a channel to get customers in the door. It can also be used as an in-restaurant sales tool for increasing customer loyalty, creating cross-selling opportunities, and improving customer engagement with your brand. Encourage diners to share their experiences with friends on social media, your website, or via review sites. Restaurants of all types can be part of the mobile action, increasing customer loyalty and attracting new patrons with rewards programs or special offers on appetizers. Mobile ordering and payment are also becoming more popular among diners, so creating an intuitive experience is a must.

Create a Holiday Promotional Video – Whether for entertainment or education, videos are an increasingly popular and shareable media among consumers. The holidays are prime time for entertaining, and people are always seeking ways to impress their own dinner guests. Sites like Pinterest are a common destination for individuals seeking last-minute ideas. Why not create a video that spotlights one of your chefs creating that perfect holiday meal, cocktail, or dessert? Maybe one of your new drive-thru side dishes can be made into a quick yet elegant party addition—spread the word! Don’t just rely on your own website to share the video, though… consider creating a holiday campaign complete with its own YouTube channel, hashtags, and in-restaurant promotions that remind customers how your restaurant can be an integral part of their holiday entertainment plans.

Offer Special Menus and Services – Offering new products and services during the holidays is a great way to generate additional sales. Consider offering special hours for carry-out holiday menu items or specific promotional gifts to accompany and increase gift card sales. Do you host holiday parties? Make sure your customers know! In-restaurant promotions including posters, table tents, and coasters are all easy and effective ways to share information about new and upcoming promotions.

Create “Easy Access” Gifts – Gift cards and other promotions can simplify holiday shopping for your customers. Create an area in your restaurant where diners can quickly purchase gift cards, wine, or shelf-stable desserts for easy gift-giving. Personalize the experience by enabling customers to select from various gift card designs or packages. A self-checkout area that is set up for credit cards and mobile payments would enable visitors to pay and go without waiting for the assistance of a staff member. Also, don’t forget that “buy one, get one” promotions are always a big hit!

Evolve Your Promotion and Stay True to Your Brand – Regardless of the time of year, customer feedback is essential for the success of any campaign. Listen to feedback and react. One of the best things about digital printing is that it affords you the flexibility to change direction even in the middle of a campaign, so use this to your advantage! It’s encouraging for us to see how businesses understand the value of print and are leveraging the benefits of digital printing—localized/personalized, short-run, fast-turnaround and more, for an impactful in-restaurant push this year. Whether your restaurant is relying on a tried-and-true campaign or an entirely new idea, don’t be afraid to have a little fun with your marketing as we move into the holiday season!

[1] http://www.restaurant.org/Downloads/PDFs/News-Research/Pocket_Factbook_FEB_2017-FINAL.pdf