Five Holiday Marketing Ideas for Restaurants

The holidays can be the season of boom or bust for restaurants.

To make sure it’s the former, it’s important to implement a well-thought-out holiday marketing strategy. Not only will this help you cash in on the seasonal spending frenzy, it will also let you capitalize on a great opportunity to increase brand loyalty. 

 Let Your Customers Know About Seasonal Menu Items

Are you serving up spiced eggnog or baking holiday ham? Your customers want to know about it. To spread the word effectively, plan your seasonal menu changes well in advance and then come up with a plan to communicate the new items to your customers.

  • Update your physical menu
  • Call out the new menu items on your website
  • Share the menu additions on social media, along with a professional quality photo or video if possible
  • Send out a marketing email inviting your customers to come try out your seasonal options or submit their favorite recipescupcake

Offer Gift Cards

The holidays are gift-giving season, but retailers shouldn’t be the only ones to benefit from it. Even if you don’t have menu items that make for good gifts, you can get in on the gift-buying action by offering gift cards. In addition to giving your restaurant an immediate infusion of revenue, gift cards encourage repeat visits, and studies show that 65 percent of gift card holders spend an extra 38 percent beyond the value of the card.

  • Train your front-of-house staff to ask customers if they would like to purchase a gift card when it comes time to pay the bill
  • Display gift cards prominently at the host station or checkout counter
  • Advertise gift cards on your website and notify customers with a marketing email
  • Run a contest on your social media channels where you give away free gift cards to generate interest and demand gift card

Give Back

There’s no better way to build goodwill with your customer base than by contributing to a cause that reflects your business’s values. You can host a toy or food drive, donate a certain percentage of proceeds to a charity, put together a volunteer team to help local people in need, or anything else that’s close to your heart.

The key to success is to give back in a way that engages your customers to participate. Then, of course, you need to spread the word about your ongoing efforts through social media. This not only amplifies the impact of your giving efforts by prompting participation, but also gives you an opportunity to connect with your customers in a meaningful way that will reinforce customer loyalty.

Reach Out to Other Local Businesses

Who doesn’t love a good office party around the holidays? More importantly, what fun is a holiday party without good food?

If you have the bandwidth, you can take advantage of the holiday party season by reaching out to other local business to let them know how your restaurant can accomodate them. Sending postcard mailers is the traditional way to advertise this, but marketing emails are the more economical approach if you can get the email addresses of other businesses through the local chamber of commerce or another networking association.

  • Make sure to clearly communicate the deadlines for private party reservations and/or catering orders
  • Consider streamlining your menu for holiday catering and private parties to minimize the extra workload on your staff and simplify food supply ordering

 Don’t Forget About Your Employees

As a business owner, it’s crucial to take care of the people who take care of you.

There are numerous ways to show your employees that they are important to your business and that you care about them. Bonuses or gifts are great, but that isn’t always in the cards when cash-flow is at a premium. As an alternative, consider hosting an after-hours event for your employees and their families–where everything is pre-prepared so none of them have to work!

Whatever it is you do, make sure it’s meaningful to your employees. Happy employees not only have better attitudes, but they also put also put in more effort and can become some of your best marketers by spreading the word about how much they love your restaurant.