Tactics for driving food and beverage sales

Delivering measurable increases in food and beverage revenues can be achieved with simple restaurant promotional techniques available to big budgets and shoestring marketers alike. There are thousands of possible tactics you can employ to drive revenues without any reliance on mass media advertising.  Here are a few of the best restaurant promotion ideas to get your own creative marketing wheels turning.



This is an underutilized tool that bounces guests from peak times to off-peak times and can also work to encourage frequency in your food and beverage operations.  While simple in theory and execution, this tactic can produce far more in revenues per dollar invested than traditional advertising.

All you do is offer incentives at the point of purchase on popular services to encourage the guest to try your restaurant another time.  For instance, if you're busy for lunch and need to drive sales for dinner, offer bounceback certificates that can only be redeemed during dinner hours.  Test different offers and delivery vehicles and track response rates for each to hone in on what works best with your clientele.


Stop Discounting

Discounting tells your customers and prospective customers, "We don t deserve full price, so we'll be happy to lower our rates to make up for the difference".  Instead of discounting, consider half portions, for those that don't want to have a huge meal, and at the same time for those that cant afford one, keeping your reputation. This point was driven home to me during my tenure at a lavish resort whose guests spend a small fortune to walk the halls.  Discounting the price would be to discount the 105 years spent building a brand. Include value-added perks such as free valet parking, complimentary services, merchandise, etc. 

And, in a related topic, never offer coupons, only offer certificates. There is a big difference in perception.


Business Socials

A no brainer, right?  Well, you'd be surprised how unreceptive or apathetic some restaurant owners are to hosting business socials with outside organizations at their establishment.  However, if you select the right group to partner with, you can leverage their resources to promote your restaurant, and you can also target your core audience.  Host socials where the food is center stage.  Arrange photo opportunities that include your displays in the background and submit to local media.  Partnering with a business or charitable organization works on many levels and can help you stretch your marketing budget while still delivering higher returns on investment than can be achieved with traditional advertising.



Tasting is believing and you need to get it in potential customers mouths. That's the best way to build recognition and it is more effective and less expensive than advertising. Every public event that draws your core audience is an opportunity to offer samples of yourproduct.  Pick the best 2-3 items on your menu that can be easily transported and get some solid representatives of your restaurant out to meet and greet at these off-property functions.
Hosting Food Events
Hosting food events such as the Taste of (insert your town) is a great way to position your restaurant as a center of the food scene in your market.  It allows you to leverage the reputation, profile and credibility of all of the other participants, and it can also help you share the expense of holding the event.  Hosting an event also provides your restaurant with the opportunity to recruit additional manpower and resources for promoting the event and gives that added edge with garnering local publicity.


Toss up Tuesdays

Promote this program through your next newsletter and other internal marketing vehicles to your existing customer base. Pick Tuesdays (or your slowest food day) and flip for the food tab.  Guests will have a 50 percent chance of getting their food bill paid by the restaurant. This attracts your guests  attention much more than a buy one get one free restaurant promotion.  Guests are also more likely to have higher check averages than normal because there is a chance they won't have to pay.  It creates a tremendous attention among your core guest base.


Birthday Programcake

Research shows that 50 percent of all Americans eat out on their birthday. This presents an opportunity for establishments with solid birthday programs.  So why don't restaurateurs do more to take advantage of this? Beats me, but it does offer a chance for you to capture your increased share of the market.  A birthday program can be executed through our automated e-mail marketing programs.  You simply plug in the birthday and e-mail address of your members, and a secure and nicely designed email is sent to them at a time you determine in advance. The software knows who and when to send the e-mail to and also tracks view rates for reporting that allows you to know how well your program is working. You can also have the e-mail include a redemption code that will allow you to track what percentage of the emails are bringing in guests and calculate a return on investment. Recent research has shown that retention based e-mail marketing is 300 to 400 percent higher than traditional vehicles such as direct mail and faxes. It s a great way to communicate and manage your places birthday program.

The restaurant industry has been conditioned to believe that only traditional marketing efforts can be applied to grow sales because it s what everyone else is doing.  Fact is, the restaurant industry is getting more competitive and will continue to do so.  In the face of increased competition, the most effective strategy is to differentiate your restaurant from the others and create excitement in a way that reinforces your positioning strategy.  Again, restaurant promotions are only gimmicky if they are created that way, it is entirely possible to execute these restaurant promotions in a way that is completely in alignment with the image of your restaurant no matter how exclusive.

Remember, differentiation and exciting tactics like the ones described above are particularly potent for your food and beverage operations. Smart marketing is best achieved through non-traditional techniques that are executed in.



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