Although certain areas of the country are beginning to open up more fully for indoor dining, new challenges are still emerging each day for the restaurant industry during the coronavirus pandemic. In order to secure a consistent revenue stream and bolstered brand awareness, restaurant owners are implementing creative and unique tactics for marketing their business and reaching new customer bases.
Take a look below to see how some of our own Rewards Network restaurant partners are testing unique strategies and initiatives that can ignite revenue during COVID-19.
Strategic discounts and promotions
Offers, discounts, and promotions are effective marketing tools that restaurant owners can utilize to fuel additional orders and revenue during trying times. For example, Iron Pig Smokehouse in Gaylord, MI is pushing their gift cards by offering a $25 gift card for as low as $15 when customers purchase three or more. Other restaurants are choosing to tout a specific menu item, like Minsky’s Pizza in Olathe, KS, that is offering promotional pricing on their gluten-free pizzas. It’s no secret that takeout and delivery business play a huge part in a restaurant’s success during the coronavirus pandemic, so it can be a savvy idea to tailor promotions around these types of orders. Catch 35 in Naperville, IL is offering $5 off all takeout/delivery orders of $50 or more with promo code “Catch35$5off$50.” Similarly, B.GOOD in Jersey City, NJ is also prompting delivery orders by offering free delivery on any order of $12 or more along with “Buy One Get One” entrees.
Goodwill and appreciation
Numerous restaurants are aiming to support nonprofits during these challenging times by donating a portion of their proceeds. Steak + Vine in La Grange, IL is allocating $3 of every signature cocktail sold to The H Foundation, which funds basic science cancer research. Other establishments are focusing on specific groups of people to offer discounts to such as frontline workers and industry employees. For example, Melt Bar & Grilled in Canton, OH is rewarding service industry workers every Monday with 25% off their bill as a way to show continued appreciation.
A restaurant’s social platforms are an ideal outlet for keeping patrons informed of any timely changes, new protocols, and promotions. Some restaurants, like Quaker Steak & Lube in Cincinnati, OH, are taking this to the next level by developing rewards programs they’re touting on social media to encourage repeat orders. The idea is that customers can earn points for every dollar they spend on food and drinks that can eventually be redeemed for free menu items. Implementing a contest or giveaway can also create a spike in online engagement and revenue. Jet’s Pizza in Brandon, FL is asking followers to post a picture of their love for Jet’s, using a specific hashtag, for the chance to win a $25 gift card. Along the same lines, Meatball Eatery and Libations in Greenwood Village, CO is offering a free cocktail, beer, or glass of wine to all customers who mention a specific Facebook ad to their server. Taking the social media giveaway idea to the next level, Mercadito in Chicago is promoting a free Taco Tuesday dinner for two for one lucky winner. The restaurant is asking people to follow their Instagram page, like a specific post, tag their friends, and share the post on their own Instagram to be entered to win. Keep in mind that prior to running a social media contest or giveaway, it’s a good idea to check your local laws – most allow for just this type of promotion, but there are some nuances you will want to consider.
During these unpredictable times for the restaurant industry, creativity is a key ingredient for sustaining and driving dollars. Dog Haus in Fremont, CA decided to play off of applicable national food holidays, such as “National Fried Chicken Day,” offering customers a steep discount on their staple crispy fried chicken sandwich. With many people still hesitant to enter the grocery store on a regular basis, it’s a smart idea to carve out a new revenue stream with takeout/delivery meal kit options. Fogo de Chão in Philadelphia is offering a take-home Celebration Package that includes ready-to-eat meats, savory sides, and their signature desserts, so customers can enjoy all their favorites in the comfort of their own home.
Always think one step ahead
COVID-19 has introduced a slew of challenges for restaurant owners. To stay top of consumers’ minds and profitable during these trying times, it’s crucial to develop new revenue streams and innovative ways of promoting your business. Continue to test various communication methods such as email, social media, and your website as well as targeted discounts and promotions to discover what works best for your restaurant. Once you unlock a winning combination, you can regularly refine it to fuel sales and brand awareness.
To discover more restaurant marketing strategies and tactics that can help your business during COVID-19, take a look at our free e-tool, “Coronavirus Era: 13 Restaurant Marketing Tips.”