When you are trying to build a restaurant business, it is wise to plug into current events. That means tweaking your marketing & advertising efforts with the changing seasons of the year and the holidays that go with them.
Below is a list of ideas for timely restaurant advertising & promotions for every month of the year:
This is the New Year's Resolution month, a time when many people vow to stop eating out in efforts to lose weight or stick to a tighter budget. In either case, it is not the best of conditions for a restaurant owner. Those in colder climates can play up the allure of snow and advertise to winter vacationers, skiers & snowmobilers. In warmer climates, play up your restaurant as an escape from harsh winter conditions. Offer weekend and mid-week specials, such as a two-for-one deal. A lighter side option for those New Year’s dieters is another way to draw in extra business.
Valentine’s Day is one of the golden nights each year for the restaurant industry. Typically the best day of the year for many restaurants, you want to fill all of your tables and offer a special menu. Promote your Valentine’s Day specials in the local paper or even on the radio. Focus your dinner menu on couples meals and decadent desserts that can be shared by two. Many schools have a winter vacation in February, so running some lunch specials and dinner specials that week can also help bring in extra business. Even if you don’t normally take reservations, be sure to do so for Valentine's Day.
Typically, March is not warm enough for outdoor dining and not cold enough to benefit from the promotion of winter sports. It's actually a Cabin Fever Month, which makes it tricky to lock in on obvious timely connections other than St. Patrick's Day (March 17). Consider advertising a specialty dinner, like a wine tasting or nightly fixed price menu. Lean on your restaurant promotions, like Ladies Night, two-for-one dinners, or a wine-tasting event. For restaurants that can work in a sports motif for marketing, the NCAA Basketball Tournament and its "March Madness" appeal can carry you for more than half of the month. In addition, local organizations typically being putting together summer tourists’ guides in late winter or early spring. Plug into that and be sure to place an ad for your restaurant now.
April signals the arrival of spring. It is a time to advertise specials focusing on lighter fare, including salads, new vegetables, and fruity desserts. If you have outdoor dining, advertise that the deck/patio is open for business. Nothing draws a crowd like the promise of a warm, sunny outdoor lunch after a long winter.
May has great potential for restaurant advertising. It is the start of wedding season, prom season, and college graduations. If your restaurant has a banquet room or does any kind of catering, be sure to promote it! May is the time to gear up for summer catering as well. It is never too early to advertise your catering services for summer weddings, barbecues, picnics, banquets & more.
Restaurants that will be open on the Fourth of July must be sure to advertise for it in June while potential customers are making plans. Be sure to replenish take-out menus at local hotels, the chamber of commerce, and any other location that caters to vacationers. With school out for the summer, you should look at ways to improve your kid's menu and offer kid-friendly specials.
Summer is in full swing. If your area has a large tourist draw in the summer months, run promotions in the local paper. Consider partnering with local hotels to give discounts to their guests. If you are open on July 4, plug in heavily to the patriotic marketing around that holiday.
Along with summer tourism, many areas have summer festivals that draw large crowds. Consider sponsoring festivals or other community activities for some increased visibility. Now is the time to start thinking about revamping your holiday catering menus and getting ready for the change to autumn. Start thinking about back-to-school ads and other fall advertising ideas.
Labor Day marks the unofficial end of summer. Some restaurant advertising ideas include back-to-school promotions and harvest dinner menus. Partner with local farmers for some organic, farm-to-table fare which you can advertise and offer a fixed price menu option.
Get into the Halloween spirit with scary promotions. If you have a bar or pub, considering throwing a Halloween costume contest. This is also a good time to start sending out holiday flyers and encouraging people to book their holiday parties early. If you provide any off-site catering, now is the time to advertise it.
Many people opt out of cooking their own Thanksgiving dinner. If you are open on Thanksgiving, advertise it well in advance. Provide a special Thanksgiving-based menu option. Other advertising for your restaurant should include holiday party promotions and New Year's Eve reservations.
Plug into the Christmas and holiday season with your menu items and promotions. But most important, be sure to romote your New Year’s Eve menu through local papers, radio spots and your website. Behind only Valentine's Day, this is the next-biggest night of the year on the restaurant calendar and you want your tables full. Even if you don’t normally take reservations, be sure to do so for New Year’s Eve.