November Restaurant Marketing Ideas

The months are flying by and we’re entering the second to last one of the year. You’re probably busy with menu changes, events, and just the typical hustle and bustle of a crowded dining room. We want to make your life as a restaurant owner easier by providing you with marketing ideas to use in November. Read on for November marketing ideas to fill seats in your restaurant.

World Vegan Day

The Vegan Society was established in 1994 and has been celebrating World Vegan Day on November 1st ever since. The entire month is celebrated by the society as a way to commemorate how the vegan movement has progressed.

If you’re a vegan restaurant, this is the perfect opportunity to celebrate! Run promotions, offer prizes, and introduce a limited-time menu for the day (or the entire month). If you’re not a vegan restaurant, you might still consider celebrating the holiday by offering discounts on your vegan menu items or offering an entirely vegan menu for the day.

Get creative and educate your guests on The Vegan Society and World Vegan Day. There is a lot of history and news associated with veganism. This is a great way to spark a conversation about the impact the movement has had.

You can incorporate social media efforts as well. Ask guests about their experience with veganism, what made them go vegan, or what some of their favorite vegan meals are. You can post customer highlights on your social media pages throughout the month and tag all relevant trending hashtags for more exposure.

World Sandwich Day

Just two days later, on November 3rd, is World Sandwich Day. Whether it’s a PB&J, a Philly Cheesesteak, or an Italian submarine, sandwich lovers rejoice!

If you serve up sandwiches, offer a buy-one-get-one deal on select, or even all, sandwiches on your menu. Create combos to sweeten the deal, offering a side of chips and a drink for a low price.

Make the celebration fun by creating a “World Sandwich Day” exclusive sandwich. Give the guests who order the item a discount card or code to be used for next time. This inspires repeat business through incentive.

You should start advertising for this holiday soon to create buzz and excitement. Send out a fun email blast letting customers know you’ll be celebrating on November 3rd. Spread the word on social media and post an announcement on your SinglePage menu.

If you’ve found success with direct mail, send out coupon cards to redeem in-store on November 3rd only. Testing out different marketing strategies can help bring in more business.

Remember, our new Holiday Calendar keeps you informed of all upcoming holidays relevant to your restaurant. Learn more about it here.

Fall Festival or Holiday Bash

If you didn’t ring in fall in September or October, it’s not too late! Host a fall festival or usher in the holiday season with a holiday bash. Offer guests complimentary cider and sweets, provide entertainment, and throw in a few contests or giveaways.

Plan this event at a time that’s typically slow for your business to get the most out of the gathering. Get people excited about upcoming holiday celebrations, surprise them with a seasonal menu, and give them a reason to leave the couch during hibernation season.

Thanksgiving

Arguably the most celebrated and most filling holiday of the month, Thanksgiving is taking place on November 22nd this year. Although many people cook their turkey and stuffing at home, some have made a tradition of dining out for the holiday.

In fact, the NRA found that in 2017, 1 out of 10 adults (9%) were planning to go to a restaurant for Thanksgiving.

If you’re open to serving guests on Thanksgiving, make sure they’re aware of it. If they haven’t already, people will soon be making reservations for the feast. There are limited dining options with some restaurants choosing to close for the day, so inform guests of your availability. Make sure your hours of operation are correct online so people can plan accordingly.

You’ll most likely serve a pre-fixe menu with all of the traditional fixings. Determine pricing for the event and advertise it by posting a Thanksgiving-specific menu online. People will want to weigh their options before making a reservation, so give them all the information they’re looking for. Need help? SinglePlatform can get your holiday menu and business information online ahead of Thanksgiving (contact us!)

Are there any other elements that help you stand out as the place to be on Thanksgiving? Maybe you’re streaming the Macy’s Day Parade or the sought-after football games. People are looking to celebrate by continuing the traditions they’ve had for years. Let them know about the entertainment you’ll be offering. Social media, your website, and emails are all great ways to keep guests informed.

Small Business Saturday

Riding on the coattails of Thanksgiving is Small Business Saturday on November 24th. Black Friday kicks off the holiday shopping season as a whole, but Small Business Saturday is a way to inspire communities to support their local businesses. It is supported and marketed by American Express; they even provide free marketing materials that you can use.

Small Business Saturday has seen success in recent years. According to American Express:

[In 2017, an estimated 108 million consumers reported shopping or dining at local independently-owned businesses on Small Business Saturday — generating roughly $12 billion in reported spend.]

Although you’re not a retail business, you can still participate. If you want to get involved by providing specials to people looking for a break from their shopping journey, go for it. Coffee, snack, and lunch specials can go a long way when serving hungry shoppers.

Do you offer holiday gift baskets, gift cards, or other items around this time of year? Promote the sale ahead of Saturday. You can even put up a sidewalk sign letting passersby know that you may just have the perfect gift.

Participating in Small Business Saturday is a great way to interact with your community and attract more business. In fact, according to Business Wire, 90% of consumers have noted that Small Business Saturday has had a positive impact on their community. Kick off the holiday season by getting involved this November.

In Closing

The calendar keeps turning and November is just days away. Plan your marketing strategies for the month now to get a head start on attracting customers to dine with you. There are plenty of holidays to recognize and events to host in order to make the most out of the month. Use these restaurant marketing ideas for November to inspire new business.

Interested in other generic restaurant marketing ideas? Check out our 9 Simple Restaurant Marketing Ideas blog.

Tricks & Treats: Halloween Restaurant Marketing Ideas

Spooky season has commenced and the Halloween holiday is just around the bend. Your restaurant can utilize the festivities of October 31st to do some effective marketing. We highlight the Halloween restaurant marketing ideas that will have guests in for a treat.

The Facts

Just how popular is Halloween? Well, in 2018 it’s projected that 175 million Americans will be celebrating! A total of 9 billion dollars is projected to be spent on the holiday alone this year.

Run a Costume Contest

Who doesn’t love to dress up and take on a new persona for Halloween? Sure, wearing a costume isn’t for everyone, but many people will be willing to participate, especially if there is an incentive.

Run a costume contest at your restaurant either the weekend before Halloween or the day of. You can even keep the party going all week long and have a different theme each day. Each day of the week can offer prizes for a new category, like scariest costume or most creative group idea. Allow all participants to vote on the best costume, tally the votes, and treat the winner of each category to a free meal on the house.

Or, let everyone win by offering a discount or free menu item to anyone who comes with a costume. Take photos of participants to post on your social pages so all of your followers can tune into the fun.

Quick Tip: You should start marketing your contest in email, on your social accounts, and on your SinglePage announcement now so customers can brainstorm ideas and put together a winning costume.

Cook Up Spooky Treats and Eats

Channel your inner ghoul or goblin and come up with an inventive Halloween exclusive menu that’s only available surrounding the holiday. You can incorporate autumn flavors, like maple, pumpkin, and cinnamon to create irresistible menu items for humans and zombies alike. Get creative with the names and descriptions, riffing on popular Halloween-related characters like Dracula, The Mummy, and The Addams Family (to name a few) to make it more fun.

Stir up some tasty elixirs, both alcoholic and non, to delight guests on the chilly autumn night. Witches’ brew, zombie potion, and Dark n’ Stormy cocktails will get diners in the spirit of spook. Take the presentation to the next level by serving the drinks in cauldrons or with dry ice.

Offering bar snacks? Make those festive too. Throw some candy corn into your Chex Mix or popcorn and add pieces of chocolate to your nut assortment. Because Halloween is mostly about the candy, right?

Quick Tip: Make sure to post your All Hallow’s Eve menu online early so hungry diners can make plans to visit your restaurant for the holiday.

Host a Trick-or-Treat Event

Although trick-or-treating is meant for kids, both youngsters and adults should be able to participate at your restaurant if they wish.

Offer up some candy treats or goodie bags to all of your ghoulish guests on Halloween night. If families know you’re hosting this type of event, they will be inspired to dine with you prior to their door-to-door candy-scoring journey. You can start their quest for candy on the right foot by getting in on the fun.

To make things more interesting, include some restaurant gift cards in random bags and let customers know they have a chance of winning a special prize.

Ask parents for permission to take photos for your social accounts and post them throughout the night on your Instagram story.

Quick Tip: Send out a reminder about your trick-or-treat event on social media and post about it on your website prior to Halloween.

Hire a Murder Mystery Company

There’s no better time of year to host a murder mystery dinner at your restaurant. There are companies that specialize in providing all the props, characters, and storylines needed so you can focus on the food. Ask guests to buy tickets in advance and come prepared for a challenging and suspenseful night.

Depending on the company you hire, you can choose from different themes, whether you want to host a roaring 1920s event or a creepy mystery from the 1980s. Encourage participants to come in a costume that reflects the theme to make it more genuine. And let the games begin!

Quick Tip: Do some research to see how much hiring a murder mystery company will cost you so you can properly price the tickets for the event. Then, market it to your customers!

Sponsor a Local Event

Your involvement in Halloween-related revelry doesn’t just have to take place inside your restaurant. Find out about Halloween events happening in your town and see if you can get involved.

The local school or rec center might host a scary movie night; find out if there’s opportunity for you to provide the snacks. Haunted trail rides are another popular activity at this time of year. Host a pop-up stand where people can find refreshments like apple cider and dessert.

Pumpkin picking, Jack-O-Lantern walks, and haunted houses are also common Halloween happenings. If you become a sponsor, you can hand out branded swag items for guests to take home. They’ll remember you next time they’re looking for a place to eat.

Even if you don’t participate in the event, you can sell tickets for the events at your restaurant to lend a helping hand to local efforts. Becoming a participant in your local community will go a long way for your business.

Decorate!

Arguably the easiest of all these Halloween restaurant marketing ideas, a little decoration goes a long way. Incorporate pumpkins or Jack-O-Lanterns, faux leaves, and other spooky elements can help set the tone for the holiday. You can find inexpensive decor online and in local craft stores. Use it and reuse it by storing it with the rest of your seasonal decorations.

In Closing

Ghosts, and monsters, and vampires, oh my! Halloween is approaching quickly, and similar to many other holidays, is the perfect reason to come up with some new restaurant marketing ideas. Whether you choose to host an event in your restaurant, get involved in your community, or just inspire some fright through your menu, there are plenty of ways to celebrate Halloween this October 31st.

For more restaurant marketing ideas, check out the homepage of our blog.

Don’t Miss These October Restaurant Marketing Ideas

October is just around the corner, so you should be preparing your business by utilizing new marketing ideas for the month. We give you some inspiration on how you can market your restaurant this October.

Every Day Is A New Holiday

If you look online or on social media, it seems like each new day is a different celebration of something food-related.

The 1st of October is World Vegetarian Day, the 17th is National Pasta Day, and the 27th is American Beer Day. Check out Restaurant News for the full list of October’s holidays and see what can work well for your restaurant.

Do you serve plant-based meals? Offer a discount or market an event for October 1st.

If you’re an Italian establishment, celebrate pasta on the 17th by introducing new macaroni dishes or offering up a two-for-one deal.

These are easy wins for your restaurant, not only for profit, but to create excitement.

We recently created an Upcoming Holidays calendar in our dashboard that you can use to stay in-the-know about relevant food holidays. If one fits your concept, easily post social messages to let followers know about the deals you’re offering in celebration. Don’t ever miss out on a marketing opportunity when it comes to food celebrations again.

October is National Pizza Month

Besides the daily food holidays, there’s also a monthly celebration of pizza. If  you’re a pizzeria, or even if you’re not but still have pizza on the menu, this applies to you. Keep the party going all month long by revealing weekly deals on pizza.

Make it interesting by posting the weekly special in advance to get customers interested in your offerings. Maybe the first week of October is half off on pepperoni pies, while the next week is buy-one-get-one slices of choice. Get creative.

Let your customers know you’ll be honoring pizza all month long by sending out email and social communications. Let’s be honest, pizza definitely is a great reason to celebrate.

Stake Out at Street Fairs

Autumn is the perfect time to check out local events like street fairs, food festivals, and other fall gatherings. Get in there! Find out about booth rentals or other vendor opportunities to help get the name out about your business. You want your restaurant to be a notable name in your community, so you have to put in the effort to get to know people.

Hand out business cards or free giveaways with your restaurant logo on it. Offer samples of your food and drinks. Ask people to follow you on social media. These little impressions go a long way, especially in a small community.

Even if you aren’t a booth vendor, you can stop by these events to get acquainted with attendees. Walk around, introduce yourself, and establish a presence. You can always find out more information on how you can become a full sponsor or vendor at the next event. Don’t miss the chance to get to know your neighbors and make a mark in your area.

Host an Event

We discussed 5 Restaurant Events to Host This Fall in a previous blog, so check that one out for some more ideas. October is when people really start to get into the autumn spirit, so take advantage. There’s an event opportunity for every business, whether you’re a craft beer bar or a Mexican restaurant. You can choose to create it around a theme, like Fall Harvest or Halloween, or just make it a gathering to ring in the new season.

Create Columbus Day Deals

Columbus Day is a national holiday taking place on Monday, October 8th this year. Most people have a day off from work and school, which means you have a pretty good chance of seeing a larger crowd than usual.

The purpose of the holiday is to commemorate Christopher Columbus’ arrival to the Americas in 1492. Come up with some creative deals, dishes, or drinks to pay homage.

Offer discounts on certain menu items or send out coupons ahead of time for guests to redeem money off the entire bill.

This is also a perfect opportunity to host an American Trivia night to test your guests’ United States knowledge. Have fun with it!

Praise Pumpkin

We all know that people get pretty crazy about these edible gourds come October. Delish.com notes that according to Nielsen data, sales of pumpkin-flavored products reached $488.7 million over the last year (from August 18, 2017 to August 18, 2018). That’s insane!

Suddenly when fall rolls around, we see pumpkin-flavored everything pop up in grocery stores, from cereals to pies, ice cream, and coffee creamer. Label Insight data provided by Nielsen says there are a crazy 446 pumpkin products in traditional grocery stores right now. It’s an epidemic and it’s pretty unstoppable.

So, as a restaurant owner, what should you do? Capitalize on the craze, of course!

Incorporate pumpkin as an ingredient in your recipes, introduce a pumpkin-flavored dessert, serve up pumpkin coffees during the season. Heck, you may just want to release an entirely pumpkinized menu (think pumpkin ravioli, risotto, soup, pie…you get the gist).

Of course, make sure your social followers and customers know about any new updates through social media, email blasts, and on your website.

Celebrate Halloween

October 31st falls on a Wednesday this year, are you going to celebrate? You can host an event the weekend before or after, or go all out on the actual holiday.

According to The National Retail Federation’s annual survey, 7 in 10 people planned to celebrate Halloween in 2017. Why not let them do so at your restaurant?

Some Halloween ideas at a glance:

  • Ask customers to dress up to receive 15% off their entire meal. Take photos to share on social media.

  • Get some buckets of candy (or make your own) and tell kids to make your restaurant a stop on their trick-or-treat trail.

  • Make something enticing for the adults, like a special potent potion only available for the week of Halloween.

  • Hit your guests with a little Halloween history by hosting a Trick-Or-Treat Trivia night on Wednesday.

  •  Host a costume contest and award the winner a gift certificate to dine with you in November.

  • Make the decor just a bit spooky by incorporating some skulls, dry ice cauldrons, and dim dining lights.

There are plenty of ideas to help make Halloween night at your restaurant a must-attend. Market it well throughout the month and make it worth the trip.

In Closing

Each new month brings unique market opportunities for your restaurant business. October is full of holidays, seasonal traditions, and celebration. Plan ahead and be cognicent of all the chances you have to bring in more customers. Get creative, market heavily, and have fun.

Can Being Involved in Charitable Efforts Boost Your Restaurant’s Marketing?

Giving back to your community or another organization that is meaningful to you is admirable in its own right. You should volunteer or donate to a cause because you want to, not because you feel pressure to. But, this type of charity is actually a great marketing tool that can influence marketing campaigns and involvement from your customers.

We explore how being involved with charitable causes is beneficial to your restaurant’s marketing.

The Numbers

Charitable efforts have increased in recent times. According to Charity Navigator, in 2017, an estimated $410.02 billion was given to charitable causes. This total was record breaking and an increase of 5.2% from 2016. This goes to show that people care about giving back to their local communities as well as philanthropic causes that they are passionate about.

Your customers appreciate your business’ involvement with the community and your support. Cone Communications put out a 2017 study that revealed 92% of respondents are more likely to have a more positive image of companies that support social and environmental issues. At the same time, 87% are more loyal to those brands. Your business’ support matters, not only to a charity or a cause, but to the customers who dine with you.

Customers also want you to be transparent. 90% of consumers want companies to tell them how they’re supporting charitable causes. Incorporating your charitable efforts into your marketing strategy and into your communication with your customers can help shed light on your involvement.

The Ideas

So, how can you get involved in charity? Community volunteer efforts, food donation, and monetary donation are all great ways to make a difference.

Community Volunteering

Check out local volunteer opportunities and see if you and your staff can be included. Places like soup kitchens, nursing homes, shelters, animal sanctuaries, and youth clubs are always looking for people to lend a helping hand. If you’re a business in a tight-knit community, it goes a long way to become heavily involved with local organizations. Choose one that means something to you and set aside some time to get involved. Ask some staff members to join you in your efforts and get ready to roll up your sleeves.

Make sure to document your volunteer work by posting updates on your social channels. Take high-quality photos of your staff being active in the community to share. Your customers and followers will appreciate that you’re being open about where your time is being spent in the community.

Community volunteering also poses an opportunity for co-marketing efforts. Team up with other small businesses in your area to jointly give back to a cause. You can then feature each other in marketing efforts, tag their business on social media, and share the wealth of exposure.

Food Donation

Food donation is a great way for a restaurant to give back. I mean, food is your thing after all! Research some local charities in need of meal donation and get to preparing and packing. Make sure the food you’re cooking is within the guidelines of what they need.

If places are looking for non-perishable items, set up a donation box at your restaurant. Food drives are popular during the holidays, so keep that in mind as the season approaches.

Let customers know that you’re running a food drive and list the items you need. This is a great way for the entire community to get involved. You can even offer an incentive for a donation from a diner, like 5% off their next bill.

Make this food drive a part of your marketing strategy by including it in your restaurant email newsletter, social media, and any other communications you’re having with patrons. Let them know how long you’ll be collecting for, who you’re donating to, and what you are offering participants in return (if anything). Giving as much detail as possible reinforces the transparency of your efforts.

Monetary Donation

Cash is king, or so they say. Plenty of charities are looking for monetary donations to help fund different things, from supplies to research for cures. If you want to make a monetary donation on behalf of your organization, do it! This is a win-win because charitable donations are usually tax deductible. To learn more about the nitty gritty of this process, read this article.

You can also dedicate a menu item to the cause and donate a percent of the proceeds to the charity of your choice. Let’s say you create a special pink Cosmopolitan for Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October. You can dedicate 10% of the proceeds from each drink to go to the cause. Most restaurants tend to give between 10-25% of the proceeds to charity and  local businesses tend to give a higher percentage than chains.

Sometimes, the charity will reach out to you to host this type of event at your location. This is great for your business as well because you probably see an increase in business due to the promotion of the event.

Make sure that you’re promoting the event or the special you’re running heavily before and during the time period it’s available. You want to raise more money for the charitable cause, so you need more people in seats!

Being involved in your community and donating to charitable causes are honorable and show your dedication to helping others. You should always participate in these efforts because you want to give back, not just for the recognition. However, research shows that customers appreciate when you let them know where you are donating or how you’re getting involved with philanthropic organizations. Make sure to let customers and followers know where you’re donating to, what events you’re running, or where you’re volunteering. They’ll appreciate that you’re going the extra mile to make the world a better place. Plus, this is a great marketing opportunity for you to spread the word about your business making a difference.

Why A Retail Point of Sale Is Not An Alternative To A Restaurant POS System

Do you own a restaurant business? Well, maybe you ran a local boutique that took off and now you’ve expanded to include a little coffee shop next door. Perhaps you tried your hand at retail first before realizing that the restaurant industry was your calling. Since you already had experience in retail, you decided to keep the same point of sale system you used in your boutique for your restaurant. Maybe you decided this on your own or received advice from someone else. Whatever the case may be, there seems to be a misconception out there that retail point of sale (POS) systems can work as substitutes for a restaurant POS and that notion is just plain wrong.

Before diving into why a retail POS is not ideal for a restaurant, let’s take a step back a first talk about what a point of sale is and why you should use one in the first place.

By definition: “A point of sale system is a combination of software and hardware that allows merchants to take transactions and simplify key day-to-day business operations.”

In today’s world, using a pen and paper and an old-fashioned cash register to complete transactions just isn’t practical. You want to be efficient in order to keep customers happy and tables turning. That’s where a point of sale system comes in. A point of sale system helps to make everything from inputting orders to inventory and even taking payment more streamlined.

But, using a POS that is tailored to retail isn’t wise because a restaurant is a completely different business with different needs. Having the technology in place that is industry-specific better caters to the demands of a restaurant business.

Here are 3 reasons why a retail POS simply is not an alternative to a restaurant POS.

Just Because You Can Use It, Doesn’t Mean You Should

Think about it like this: Just because you can physically cram seven people into a compact car doesn’t mean that you should, and it certainly doesn’t mean that opting for an SUV with an extra row of seats isn’t by far a superior option that will make the whole experience better for everyone. If you’re running a restaurant, the compact car in this scenario is a retail POS system and the SUV is played by a vastly superior restaurant POS system that’s designed specifically for all the unique demands that a restaurant puts on a POS system.

Sure, if you choose to use a retail POS for your restaurant, you can figure out workarounds to make it useable, but this isn’t the most effective use of your time. A point of sale system’s purpose is to make daily operations easier for you – so why waste your time trying to make something work when there are better options?

Plus, point of sale companies that are made for the restaurant industry strive to integrate with other restaurant-centric platforms. POS companies integrate with menu management companies, delivery services, loyalty programs, staff scheduling tools, and much more. You just won’t get that type of seamless integration with relevant restaurant technologies if you invest in a retail point of sale.

Before deciding on one point of sale system, weigh your options. Point of sale providers will be happy to provide you with a demo so you can see how the software works firsthand before choosing a provider.

The Need to Modify is More Important Than You Realize

How often does a retail team need to modify any of the inventory beyond adding a discount to a pair of jeans? Not often, if ever. Restaurant workers, on the other hand, are constantly modifying inventory to meet the often highly particular needs of their guests. Add cheese, substitute onion for tomato, and sweet potato fries instead of salad, are just a few modifications servers hear on a daily basis.

Without a restaurant POS system, you’ll have to rely on servers and bartenders to type all specifications in manually or run back to the kitchen every 20 minutes to communicate with the back of house staff. These methods leave a lot of room for human error, especially when the restaurant is busy at peak hours. Human error leads to mistakes, which lead to unhappy customers. Plus, these ways of noting modifications on orders are not the most efficient or time-friendly way to go about business.

In the restaurant industry, time is money, and you don’t want to be wasting time with manual work that could be automated with a point of sale system.

Going Beyond Just Sales is Essential

Retail POS systems only need to carry out very basic functions like selling, returning, discounting, and tracking items. In most retail scenarios, once something is sold, it goes from “in stock” to “out of stock” and that’s about it. Restaurant owners should demand so much more from their POS system in order to help streamline operations, recognize trends, and get the job done quicker.

  • As everyone knows these days, marketing is essential to successful restaurants, and you should be able to track your marketing campaigns through your point of sale.
  • Loyalty and rewards programs will keep customers coming back time after time, and is a feature that retail POS systems can’t handle. Unless you want to manage your loyalty program on a paper punch cards, you’ll need a restaurant POS system that can easily (and digitally) handle the functions of a rewards program.
  • Your inventory is always fluctuating. Keeping track of stock with pen and paper is unnecessary and not the best use of time, money, or resources. Restaurant inventory management saves owners 30-50 hours per week and will help streamline back-of-house, reduce waste, and cut your food costs.

Point of sale systems were made to help business owners make day-to-day tasks easier and faster. However, certain POS systems were created with a specific industry in mind. Retail software is great for clothing stores and furniture outlets, but they don’t serve the restaurant industry as well. Having industry-specific technology in place is wise because it was built with you, the restaurant owner, in mind. Before making a decision on a point of sale system, weigh your options, check out the features, and figure out what’s best for you.


About the Author: Vania works closely with the restaurant industry and has shared her behind-the-scenes stories and experiences for 5+  years.  She’s an ardent advocate of Upserve’s technology solution and the way it’s transforming the restaurant industry.

Can You Boost Sales By Introducing a Seasonal Autumn Menu?

Summer is on its way out the door. Chain stores are displaying fall (and even winter, yikes!) decor and people are gearing up for a new season. It may seem like autumn is on its way too soon, but when it comes to revamping your menu, you should get ahead of the game.

Now is the perfect time to reevaluate your menu and offer up some fresh items for fall. The change of seasons gives you an opportunity to introduce new ingredients and menu items in order to attract new crowds.

Plus, an updated or brand new menu gives you fresh marketing opportunities. Marketing your menu will help to drive more diners, which in turn means more sales.

Marketing the Menu

Use social media to let followers know that you’ve brought on some exciting autumn-inspired eats. Send an email newsletter to make a splash about the seasonal additions. Even consider hosting a special event to introduce your autumn menu.

Does updating your menu help to boost sales? Again, it’s all about how you market it. It’s obvious that people get excited when they hear about change. Whenever Starbucks introduces a new Frappuccino, the crowd goes wild! When they dropped the Unicorn Frappuccino in 2017, it sold out. The popular coffee chain is one of many who introduce new seasonal items in order to get people excited about the brand again. Unmetric evaluated Starbucks’ social strategy:

 Via Time Via Time

[From Zombie Frappuccinos to Pumpkin Spice Latte, Starbucks has managed to create a cult following for their various offerings. Even though the brand does not post that often, whenever they do, there is a frenzy around it. The brand posted more photos than any other type of content and they had the highest engagement as well.]

If you advertise your new menu effectively, you can get your customer base excited to dine with you again. Starbucks, to use the same example, does a great job marketing their products whenever they’re releasing a new item. They hype up the crowd and get patrons excited about what’s to come. Although you probably won’t be serving up any Unicorn Fraps, you can take some cues to incorporate into your strategy.

Don’t forget to get your seasonal menu online so you can reach more new potential diners. People are looking for places to eat all the time, so you want to be visible on the platforms they’re searching on. When you use a tool like SinglePlatform, you can post announcements on the top of your menus. This is prime real-estate to let diners know that you have new menu items, specials, and events.

Menu Descriptions

The way you describe your menu items can help entice your hungry customers. Menu expert Gregg Rapp notes menu descriptions are an important factor in determining your profitability.

If you’re selling a hanger steak with two sides for $40, the basic description would be “Hanger Steak with Mixed Vegetables and Potatoes.” Boring, right?

Get a little more creative when telling your customers what they’re ordering. Creating a story around the meal paints a picture in a customer’s mind, which can help justify the cost and inspire them to order it.

Hanger Steak with Mixed Vegetables and Potatoes becomes Orchard Farms Seared Hanger Steak with Parmesan Crusted Zucchini Chips and Garlic Roasted Potatoes.

Doesn’t that sound so much more delicious?

When going for an autumn-inspired offering, think about what kind of emotions, scents, and tastes the season evokes. Crisp air, savory foods, and dark hues are quintessential autumn elements. Let those shine through in your menu descriptions to give your guests that warm, fuzzy feeling they’re looking for when the air gets colder.

Menu Items

So, what should these new dishes include? We explore 3 autumn-inspired ingredients you can incorporate into your menu. Of course, when formulating a new menu, you should consider the factors that go into profitability, like the cost of goods and pricing it right.

Mushrooms

 Via Veggie Primer Via Veggie Primer

Description: Edible mushrooms are eaten for their nutritional and sometimes medicinal value. The Portobello has a meaty texture and a rich flavor. The white button is milder, but is the most commonly used one of the bunch. Shiitake mushrooms release a garlic-pine aroma and have an earthy umami flavor.

When Wholefoods released their picks for the Top Food Trends of 2018, “functional mushrooms” made the cut. We think fall is the right time to introduce some functional fungi into your dishes.

Portobello mushrooms can replace meat to create a hearty burger topped with goat cheese and apricot chutney. Create a mushroom broth soup to warm the chill of the autumn air. Mushroom risotto, stuffed mushrooms, and a pasta dish with garlic mushroom sauce are all great options for incorporating a savory fall flavor. And there are different kinds to choose from! Portobello, white button, and shiitake can be used in different recipes to pack a punch.

Butternut Squash

 Via InspiredTaste Via InspiredTaste

Description: Butternut squash is by far sweeter than other squashes thriving in winter. It is a nutty dose, but sometimes it is similar to other vegetables. For instance, its flavor is particularly the same as sweet potatoes when in purees, or as a pumpkin but a little sweeter.

This vegetable just screams out fall (arguably more so than a Pumpkin Spice Latte – but don’t quote us on that). And there are so many ways you can use it. If you think butternut squash soup is too overplayed, get more creative.

A simple cinnamon butternut squash roast can be a replacement for the age-old mashed potato side. Toss them with another fall favorite, Brussels sprouts, in an autumn casserole. Transform it into a dessert with a butternut squash layer bar or pie. The possibilities are practically endless!

Bosc Pears

 Via Fast Growing Trees Via Fast Growing Trees

Description: Bosc pears have a golden russet-colored skin. The creamy, off-white flesh is tender yet crisp with an intense honeyed aroma. Bosc pears have a pleasantly sweet flavor with hints of fall spices. The flesh of a Bosc pear may be dense, but it is also quite juicy.

This fruit is in season from September through April, making it a great option for your fall menu. You can bake them with brown sugar for a sweet, healthy treat to serve over ice cream. Poached pears may also be a hit. Looking for savory? Pair them with bleu cheese or aged gouda on a fall-inspired charcuterie plate. Or, combine them with shallots to dress a pork tenderloin.

Autumn is upon us, which means you should consider switching up your menu for a new season. Presenting a fresh menu can help drive more customer interest and profits. The way you market your menu can help drive new business by creating buzz about brand new items. There are plenty of seasonal ingredients to choose from in order to make your offerings hard-to-resist. Get a head start on your fall menu and contact SinglePlatform to get it distributed to the places that matter online.

5 Ways to Creatively Market Your College Town Restaurant

Back to school season is right around the corner and has even already begun in some states. College kids typically head back to campus in early to mid-August for yet another semester. In a recent blog we discussed 5 Back to School Restaurant Promotions to use in the spirit of school being back in session. Today, we’re focusing in on college town restaurants and how those businesses can creatively market to new and returning students.

Offer Free Samples

Take a cue from the big-box chain stores like BJ’s and Costco who make bulk shopping a can’t-miss event by offering customers free samples.

Let’s face it, college kids love free stuff. They’re tight on cash, but still hungry for great food. Use this to your advantage by offering up some free samples, either at your location or on campus. This is a great way to market your college town restaurant, give students a taste of what you offer, and do some essential face-to-face interaction. If students like what they taste, they’ll be more inspired to visit your restaurant and order it again.

Free samples can even have an effect on reciprocity. According to Dan Ariely, a behavioral economist at Duke University: “If somebody does something for you”—such as giving you a quarter of a ravioli on a piece of wax paper—“you really feel a rather surprisingly strong obligation to do something back for them.”

While promoting the free samples, you can throw in a coupon for 10% off the next meal or a free appetizer. Again, any kind of discount or free item goes a long way for a busy college kid. Plus, you’re giving them a reason to come into your restaurant at a later date.

Hand Out Swag

What better way for you to market your college town restaurant than to have walking billboards all over campus? Get some fun t-shirts printed up with your company logo and give them away at your location, on campus, or at other community events.

You can even see if the campus administrative buildings will place your branded pens in common areas for students to use and take home. Other swag ideas include umbrellas (for those rainy day walks to class), hats, mugs, and tote bags.

Although purchasing giveaways items is an investment, it’s great for getting the word out there about your business. And it’s effective! It’s said that 85% of people have done business with a company after receiving a promotional product. That same research shows that logoed mugs are more effective advertising than radio and television spots! Now, that’s good marketing.

People find it important for promotional products to be something useful, so keep that in mind. Plus, like we mentioned above, college students love free stuff. They’ll appreciate your thoughtfulness.

Sponsor an Event

Activity doesn’t just stop when the last class is over. There are tons of clubs, groups, and teams that participate in events all over campus. Find out if you can be a sponsor an event or offer a prize for an auction, charity event, or raffle. This is a prime opportunity for your restaurant’s name to be mentioned on a microphone in front of a large crowd, in promotional flyers, or any other marketing collateral there may be for the event.

The Event Marketing Institute found that 74% of consumers are more likely to buy products after exposure to a branded event marketing experience.

Be sure to do some social posting, like an Instagram story or Snapchat filter, around your participation in the activity.

Being active in the college community can help you become a household (and “dormhold”) name.

Get Creative on Social Media

College-aged individuals are more in tune with social media than anyone else. This means you have to go the extra mile to make your social presence more interactive, fun, and effective.

Posting an update about happy hours or daily specials is useful, but it’s not enough. 5 out of 6 millennials connect with companies on social media networks. They’re not just looking for updates, they’re looking for interaction and acknowledgement from brands.

Consider their Opinions

How do you achieve this next level of social engagement? Make use of the tools available on the platforms. Instagram just released new updates that offer new stickers for Instagram stories. You can take polls, answer questions, and mention other social media users.

Testing out ideas for a new special? Ask your audience if they’d prefer a buffalo chicken wrap or a BBQ chicken panini. You can then make a decision based on your poll results and let your followers know that the decision was made because of them. This makes people feel like you listened and that you care about what they want.

Answer their Questions

Consider hosting a weekly or bi-weekly Q&A session using Instagram questions. Let your followers ask your restaurant things they want to know and address each question in your story. This gives followers a deeper insight into what your business is all about. Plus, you might just answer some burning questions people have been wondering about for quite some time.

Interact

If someone comments on your restaurant’s post, update, or photo, respond! 62% of millennials say that if a brand engages with them on social networks, they are more likely to become a loyal customer.

Make it Fun

Consider creating a Snapchat geofilter that customers can use when they’re in your restaurant. This is great for brand exposure and visibility to additional Snapchat users who may not be following you (yet).

Host a contest on social media. Tell followers that if they geotag your location and tag your Instagram handle in their post, they’ll enjoy 20% off their next order. This gets you in front of those individuals’ followers for even more exposure.

When it comes to social media, the possibilities are endless. Get creative when targeting this young audience of people who are checking their smartphones 45 times per day.

Host Your Own Events

You’ve gotten out in the community and on campus, participated in local charities, and handed out promo items. Next, consider bringing the party to your place. College nights can be a huge success if you have enough event space to host a crowd.

Designate one day of the week to a college-geared event. Are you a Mexican restaurant? Offer Taco Tuesdays with a discount on margaritas and beer. Italian cuisine? Buy-one-get-one pasta Mondays can entice people to eat with you and bring their friends. Have a martini bar? Half off Thursdays from 5-8pm can be your thing. College students are always looking for deals on meals and a place to have a good time. Be that place! Let your followers know about these events ahead of time by scheduling your social posts.

If you want festivities to continue late into the night, hire a live band or a DJ. You can even scout the campus to see if there are some bands that are looking for gigs.

Market this event by handing out flyers on campus and posting to social media. You can even ask the University if they’ll mention the event on their social accounts. It’s likely that most students are following their college’s social channels, so take advantage whenever you can.

If you market the event effectively and execute it even better, you’ll become to next hot spot to be each week.

In Conclusion

Having a restaurant located in a college town poses unique opportunities for your business. Your target audience is between the ages of 18-24, is active on social media, and is always looking for a great deal or a place to hang out. If you’re creative with how you market your college town restaurant to students, you can inspire them to dine with you for the duration of their campus life (and possibly beyond!)

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