855.62.TOAST [email protected]

From steak chop shops on the bustling streets of New York City to sushi joints on the San Francisco Bay, restaurants across the US have already started gearing up for the 2018 Holiday season. For good reason too. Since 2010, restaurant sales during November and December have been trending up 4.2% and 6.4%. Between family gatherings, corporate parties, and private events, the holidays represent a powerful opportunity for restaurants to up their revenue as the year ends. Specifically, restaurants that have the marketing plan in place to capitalize on all this increased eating out. To help you make the most of this holiday season, we’ve put together our five favorite holiday restaurant marketing tips and best practices.

Before we dive into our advanced lessons, let’s review the basics. The tips below assume that you’re doing at least these marketing endeavors:

Social Media Marketing

Most restaurants are on social media (and yours should be too). Whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, a social media presence can bolster awareness of your restaurant and get people’s mouths watering in anticipation of your amazing eats.

Best Practice: Mind your frequency when it comes to how often your restaurant posts on social media. Posting once or twice a day is fine but spamming social media with a new post every hour can turn people off and increase your Unfollow rate.

Email Marketing

Not all restaurants have an email list, but those that do will tell you that a strong email marketing campaign can do wonders for increasing bookings. Gather emails from your customers every day and place them in a general marketing campaign designed to build awareness of restaurant news, new menu rollouts, specials, and anything else “worthy” of an email blast. Keyword there: worthy.

Best Practice: Kick your email gathering into overdrive by running social media contests or sweepstakes. Let your customer provide their email in exchange for a free meal, gift card, or other incentives.

 

5 Holiday Restaurant Marketing Tips

With the basics covered, let’s move on to the meat of the post.

Tip #1: Start an Advocacy Marketing Program

For the commis out there, an advocacy marketing program is simply an additional marketing channel to help share your holiday restaurant marketing messages. Your biggest fans join your advocacy marketing program by connecting their social media account. From there, you’ll be able to send them content (videos, blog posts, news articles, pictures) that they, in turn, can post to their personal social media networks.

Not only will your advocates see and interact with your content, but so will their friends and family. The beauty of an advocacy marketing program is that you can reach tens of thousands of people (the average advocate is connected to 500 – 600 people), without having to pay a dime to promote posts or purchase digital media.

Best Practice: Don’t even think about trying to manage an advocacy marketing program through a spreadsheet or manual email list. You’ll be in the weeds before you can even click “send”. Instead, use a third-party platform built explicitly for managing an advocacy marketing program. Our SocialToaster platform makes it easy for your advocates to join, share content, and earn rewards for participating. Plus, the platform can also calculate the ROI and earned media generated by your advocacy marketing efforts.

Tip #2: Spotlight Your Private Dining Rooms

For many restaurants, corporate parties and private events are a lucrative revenue stream during the holiday season – if office managers are aware of your private dining options. Publishing a single image of your private dining room in October isn’t going to cut it. You need to be regularly marketing your corporate event spaces.

When marketing your private event space be sure to:

  • Take pictures of the space so that people can envision dining there
  • Include relevant booking information (seating capacity, private bar, etc.)
  • Talk about the food (Is a private menu available?)

Keep in mind that most corporate parties are booked in October and November. Now’s the time to begin marketing your offering if you want to grab your share of December corporate bookings.

Best Practice: No one wants to celebrate their holiday party in a drab, neutral, setting. Add a bit of flair to your event spaces during the holiday season to help spice up your guests’ experience. Consider partnering with a professional decorator or party planner to provide decorating services to corporate parties (for an additional fee of course). Giving them the option of decorating the room as they see fit could help you win the party and drive additional revenue to the bottom line.

Tip #3: Get Local Influencers and Micro-Influencers Involved

This holiday season, lean on local market trendsetters, taste-masters, and foodies to entice people to flock to your restaurant. Micro-influencers (those with a social following of 10K to 100K) and influencers (social following of 100K+) have built a local audience that is hungry for dining recommendations. Leverage this following to build buzz by hosting private influencer-only dinners.

If your restaurant is planning on changing menus for the holiday season, including an influencer dinner in your holiday restaurant marketing plans can be the perfect tool for garnering attention and reservations. Check your local market hashtags to see who is already posting great content from area restaurants. Then reach out to the individuals that you feel most align with your target market. Invite those individuals to dine at your restaurant and encourage them to share, share, share their experience.

Best Practice: Don’t hold back when it comes to planning this influencer dinner. Sure, you don’t have to feed everyone Kobe beef and pop bottles of Dom Perignon, but you should take every action to leave a positive impression on your invited guests. Decorate the room, ensure the table has friendly reminders of what hashtags and tagged accounts should accompany any social posts, provide gift cards, etc. Take all steps necessary to create a fun, memorable experience.

Bonus Best Practice: Encourage these influencers to join your advocacy marketing program as part of their acceptance of your dining invitation. Their presence in your program will help to skyrocket your reach as they’ll be able to share content on your behalf long after the event is over.

Tip #4: Leverage the Sharing Power of Your Staff

Your advocacy program isn’t just for your favorite customers and influencers. Your staff can also take part! Back of the house, front of the house, managers, every person on your payroll that is on social media should be a part of your advocacy efforts and share your holiday restaurant marketing messages.

Not only can employees help increase your reach, they can also have a higher level of average post engagement. In fact, brand messages are re-shared 24-times more frequently when distributed by employees vs. the brand.

Best Practice: Consider implementing a separate employee incentive available only to employees (and not your customers) who participate in the program. Cash can be king, but so could paid time off, free product, and other incentives that inspire your employees.

Tip #5: Create More Video Content

Here are a couple stats for you:

Bottom line: video can be a powerful medium for building excitement around your restaurant this holiday season.

This doesn’t mean you should run out and grab the latest, shiniest piece of equipment. You don’t need a $10,000 rig to create videos for Facebook. However, it does mean that you should be producing at least some video content on the regular.

Best Practice: Dedicate an internal resource to producing and creating videos (preferably whoever is managing your social media and ongoing and holiday restaurant marketing initiatives). Then provide them with some basic training and guidance on things like lighting, filtering, and steady-cam. Technology is amazing, and you may be surprised with the quality of video that can be made with an iPhone, some good lighting, and a bit of practice.

 

Winter Is Coming

The holiday season is fast approaching and corporate managers and family are already making holiday party plans. If you want to ensure your restaurant gets the largest slice of bookings pie as possible, now’s the time to begin your holiday restaurant marketing initiatives.

If you’re ready to take your restaurant marketing to new heights with an advocacy marketing program, we’re here to help. Send us an emailrequest a free demo, or give us a call at 855.62.TOAST today!