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Top 5 Holiday Marketing Ideas for Your Restaurant

With the average American expected to spend almost $1,500 during the holidays, as a restaurant owner, it’s vital to create a holiday marketing plan that sees you taking in a portion of that discretionary spending. 

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Top 5 Holiday Marketing Ideas for Your Restaurant

Owning a restaurant can be a tricky business with high overhead costs and seasonal fluctuations. That is why it is imperative to be prepared for the holidays when most Americans have the tendency to spend more, for a variety of reasons

Not to mention, there are plenty of foods and customs we relate to Thanksgiving and Christmas—which gives you all the excuses in the world to give your restaurant’s marketing a holiday makeover. Let’s take a look at some of the best ideas you can use to accomplish this.

1. Create Festive Digital Menus

One strategy to expand the reach of your restaurant’s holiday promotions is to change things up and replace your regular menus with festive ones. While seasonal menus are a known commodity in the hospitality business, very few restauranteurs are willing to hyper-focus on the holidays. 

Therefore, the best way to go about this is to go digital and show customers that your brand cares about sustainability. For starters, a digital festive menu is much easier to create than a traditional, printed one, as it can be an HTML page or a simple PDF file. 

Therefore, you can just hire a graphic designer to incorporate your ideas, and a developer to use an integrated PDF solution to display the contents on your website or even add some animation. This will make your menus pop and be able to fit information in a variety of ways (don’t be afraid to get creative!). 

Likewise, a digital menu is more accessible—people can just open the PDF or scan a QR code. However, just be sure you have available staff to answer telephones and that your POS system can accept MOTO payments to maintain a streamlined and efficient ordering process.

2. Create Unique Holiday Gift Cards

Everyone loves discounts, but gift cards are equally, if not more popular. They’re like more formal discounts, with a purpose. Plus, they’re amongst the biggest sales drivers in the restaurant business.  

Did you know that approximately two-thirds of customers who enter a business with a gift card will spend 38% more than the gift card’s value? That’s because people naturally perceive generous businesses in a more positive way. And since your restaurant is willing to the extra mile, they’re willing to spend the extra dollar. 

But make sure the format, design, and concept of the gift card resonate with your audience. Whether it is an elegant hand-written gift certificate, embossed and written in script, or a contactless NFC digital gift certificate, it’s paramount that the gift card makes a statement, but even more so that it’s easily usable by everyone.

3. Run Special Holiday Promotions

Discounts, festive menus, and gift cards are all great marketing tools for the holiday season, but they aren’t a medium of communication. So if you want people to know about your Thanksgiving or Christmas marketing efforts, you’ll need to spread the word. 

That’s right, social media can do more than just build hype when you’re starting a restaurant. For instance, you can use LinkedIn to let suppliers or contacts know you’re embracing the holiday spirit. Or, you can use Instagram to motivate visitors to tag themselves at your location post images of food, and even share behind-the-scenes content from the kitchen. However, this is only effective if you track your data and consolidate it in one place—that’s why shopping for marketing software is also important.  

But before you draw any conclusions from your promotions, make sure the data isn’t faulty. Gather all of it in an integrated dashboard, and you’ll be able to see which channels are the most effective, which promotion drew the most attention, and even what your competitors are doing.  

4. Promote Charitable Holiday Giving

People love to support businesses that support charities and local initiatives, especially during the holidays. If your campaign is to make an impact, though, make sure you thoroughly vet non-profits you intend to work with. 

Aside from direct collaborations and re-posted content, you can also implement more direct ways to be charitable. For instance, contactless payments and mobile payment options like text-to-pay can not only raise your profile amongst diners but also increase the amount of donations flowing in. 

Most importantly, make sure you’re transparent and detailed about your charitable motivations. Your audience doesn’t just want to see you giving away money; they want to know why you do it and how those charitable efforts resonate with your ethos as a hospitality brand. 

Last but not least—make sure you and the charity share common goals, as well as a common audience. If it’s a well-known charity or non-profit, maybe they can even sponsor the name of a dish. However, this doesn’t mean you should completely rely on the charity’s brand—the focus should still be on your excellent food but with a slight twist on how it’s being advertised. 

5. Make the Theme Festive Across the Board 

Yes, the holiday season won’t last forever, but it will pass in vain if you don’t capitalize on the opportunity to let your customers know you’re embracing the holiday spirit. Therefore, just handing out gift cards or posting a few pictures on Instagram won’t cut it. 

It’s essential to have all your channels work in unison—this means redesigning your website for the holidays, changing profile pictures on social media, or even convincing the staff to wear Santa-themed pins. The ideas are countless, but it’s important that they’re versatile and able to convey your message across all the essential channels. 

But at the same time, don’t be obnoxious, spammy, or invasive. A bit of clever branding, marketing coordination and well-placed products can do much more than hourly Tweets with the hashtags #holidayseason2023 and #restaurantname_holidaymenu2023.

Wrapping Up

With the average American expected to spend almost $1,500 during the holidays, as a restaurant owner, it’s vital to create a holiday marketing plan that sees you taking in a portion of that discretionary spending. 

While all five marketing ideas we laid out have their own advantages, they can only work if they’re part of a wider strategy and are consistent with your branding. Once everything falls into place, your holiday marketing efforts will win over your diners’ hearts, bellies and wallets, all in one swoop.

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