Marketing during the holidays might seem easy: decorate the restaurant, add some snowflakes to your flyers, or recruit Santa for a meet-and-greet. By opting only for the Yuletide standards, though, your restaurant risks getting lost in the same Christmahanukwanzaaka marketing from other businesses – including your competitors! Adding unique ideas like these to your marketing recipe this December and January will help your business get noticed and increase restaurant sales.
December 5: Bartender Appreciation Day
You’ve heard of Customer Appreciation Day, but here’s a way to show you care about your staff and attract customers. Have your in-house mixologists stir up a unique creation and feature the drink as a “Bartender’s Choice” special. Alcohol is a large contributor to many restaurants’ profits, so acknowledge the employees who help drive those sales. Your bartenders will also have more effective sales pitches for a drink they call their “specialty”.
December 12: Ugly Christmas Sweater Day
Remember those delightfully tacky reindeer appliques and sequin snowflakes? These knitted tops soar in popularity around the holidays for Ugly Sweater Parties, and your restaurant can capitalize on the trend too. Offer a discount to diners donning their outlandish holiday attire or hold a contest awarding a gift card to the diner with the “Ugliest Sweater”. Remember to snap photos of your sweater-wearing diners to share on social media to engage your followers.
December 16: National Chocolate Covered Anything Day
As one of the most popular flavors in the world, there’s no limit to how restaurants can take advantage of this chocolate-covered holiday. Think outside the box with dessert specials that showcase unexpected combinations like chili and chocolate or chocolate-covered potato chips. You could also feature the chocolate desserts already on your menu in a flight with smaller portions of each.
December 30: Bacon Day
Forget Thanksgiving, this should be America’s biggest national food holiday. Celebrate Bacon Day with specials on your best bacon-y dishes. As a creative twist, you could also put finely-crumbled bacon in grated cheese shakers and serve one per table to your diners as a special condiment for their entrees. Even vegetarian restaurants don’t have to miss out with options like the seitan bacon featured on The Chicago Diner’s brunch menu.
January 4: Trivia Day
January is also Brainteaser Month, so this is a twofer. Already host trivia night? Lure in more customers with a bigger grand prize or more prizes throughout the night. If your restaurant doesn’t offer a weekly trivia, use this day to give it a spin. Or you can post a difficult trivia question on social media and offer a free appetizer to diners who come into the restaurant that day with the correct answer. This pulls more people into your restaurant and increases engagement with your customers on social media.
January 11: Fruitcake Toss Day
Turn fruitcake’s “bad gift” stereotype around with a discount for your customers who exchange a fruitcake for the deal. Then your kitchen crew can repurpose those fruitcakes in a dessert special the next day, a la a “Chopped” challenge. Restaurants can also host a physical fruitcake tossing competition on the patio or in the parking lot and award a gift certificate to the winner.
January 21: International Hot & Spicy Food Day
According to Nation’s Restaurant News, spicy flavors are a hot menu trend for 2015, and the popularity of Sriracha is still as strong as the heat it brings to the table. Whether it’s hot wings, chicken vindaloo, or a zesty curry, feature your fiery dishes as specials for this international food holiday. You could also offer a free glass of milk or fruit juice to diners who order your spicy specials to help tame the heat on their tongues.
January 31: National Hot Chocolate Day
The end of January is when everyone’s patience starts wearing thin from the colder weather. Pull shivering diners off the street by offering free hot chocolate, and they’ll be enticed to stay and spend more at the restaurant. You could also spice things up with specials featuring inventive hot chocolate variations like Mexican hot chocolate with cayenne pepper, or add a shot of liquor to really warm your customers’ bellies.
No matter how you plan to promote your restaurant this winter, bundle these marketing ideas with messages promoting your specials in-store and online through social media and your website, both in advance and in real time. Photos, especially of food, and videos are great for engaging your loyal customers on social media – and attract new diners too!