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15 Easy and Creative Restaurant Promotion Ideas

Feb 28, 2022

Approximately 30% of restaurants shutter within their first year. The odds are especially tough for independent operations – only 10% make it past the one-year mark. 

Building a solid base of repeat customers is key to beating the odds. But how do you get there?

In this blog, we’ll show you how to pair restaurant promotion ideas with SMS communications to fuel your restaurant’s success. 

15 Creative Restaurant Promotion Ideas

There’s no end to the creative restaurant promotions you can deploy via text message. Below are just a few suggestions to get the ideas flowing:

1. Host an Event

Whether you’re hosting an in-house party to celebrate a holiday or starting a weekly trivia night, let your customers know about it via SMS. Throw in an extra incentive. If your customers respond YES to your text message, for example, give them a free drink or 10% off their event ticket.

Restaurant event promotion

2. Offer Discounts

Creative restaurant promotions have been a hit ever since Coca-Cola handed out the first coupon for a free Coke in the late 1880s. Today’s consumers are still enamored with an enticing deal69% of consumers love receiving coupons, and 51%  prefer to receive them on their mobile devices. 

If you’re unveiling a great new happy hour deal or an exciting new menu item, entice your customers to check it out by sending special offers via text message.  This is also a great way to test whether your new restaurant offerings will be successful and if they are worth a more significant investment.

3. Create a Customer Loyalty Program

Reward programs are an effective tool for earning repeat customers. Prompt customers to sign up via text message and update them on their progress toward a free item. With the right SMS platform, you can even send a little nudge if it’s been a while since they’ve stopped in.

4. Promote Launches & Openings

Customers want to know when restaurants open a new location or when their favorite chefs launch a new place. SMS is an efficient, easy way to keep them apprised and get the buzz going early.

5. Collect Customer Reviews

Positive customer reviews establish credibility and can go a long way toward getting people in the door. Using SMS, ask your fans to answer a few quick survey responses. Publish the data on your website and social media platforms.

6. Confirm Reservations

SMS is a convenient way to confirm reservations. When you send customers a reminder, also let them know about any valid promotions.

Restaurant reservation confirmation

7. Host a Fundraiser

Build up goodwill by hosting a fundraiser for a local organization or cause. Announcing the fundraiser via text message will ensure the word spreads quickly. You can also ask customers to take action via SMS to multiply the event’s effects. For example, send them a link to donate and promise to match a percentage in return.

8. Send Holiday Specials

Creating fun specials and promotions for holidays can get people in the door and result in press coverage. Let your loyal customers know about the fun before anyone else – send them a text message with a special deal just for them. 

9. Host Giveaways & Contests

Giveaways and contests generate a lot of buzz, engage your audience and drive people to your restaurant. Have people sign up to participate via SMS. After the giveaway is over, you can keep communicating via text to clue them in to the latest promotions.

10. Encourage Customers to Follow Your Social Media

4 in 10 diners post photos of their food at the table. Put those photos to work for you! Put up a sign asking customers to text you their pics and social media handle for a small discount on their bill. Then, repost on your own social media channels to entice new visitors to come in for a meal. 

11. Increase Brand Awareness

It’s simple math — the more people who know about your brand, the larger your customer base. Increase brand awareness by asking existing customers to refer their friends. Offer a small incentive like a complimentary beverage or discount on their next purchase when they refer at least three friends. 

12. "Get Them in the Door" Strategy 

This is a classic restaurant promotion tactic. Send customers a text message with an offer for a heavy discount on beer, an appetizer or free dessert. When people come in to take advantage, they’ll likely order several other items. It’s a win-win for diners and the restaurant.

Foot in the door restaurant promotion idea

13. Collaborate With Delivery Services

Online ordering and third-party delivery services took center stage when the pandemic forced people indoors. Convenience, tired parents and work-from-home employees continue to drive the success of food delivery across the country.  Consider partnering with a delivery service to take advantage of these mobile-ordering trends.

14. Take Your Restaurant On the Road

Some of the most creative restaurant promotions involve spreading your wings beyond your typical service areas. Outdoor markets and events are increasing in popularity and frequency. Serve your most loved foods out of a pop-up or food truck and attract customers who otherwise haven’t heard of your business. 

Don’t forget signage encouraging signups to your text message list! People who love your food will drive surprising distances to delight their tastebuds at your establishment again.

15. Share Fun Updates About Your Company 

People love connecting with businesses that present themselves as people, not just a faceless company. Be genuine and natural in your texts. Respond to the good and bad reviews, introduce new team members, share fun facts about your company or your employees and create a presence that customers can relate to. 

Things to Know Before You Hit Send

Using SMS to spread the word about creative restaurant promotions is simple. That said, it’s always a good idea to follow a few best practices before you hit that send button. 

  • Know your audience. Who are your existing and target customers? Are they the after-work happy hour crowd? Or is an exclusive special event more their speed? Are they on the hunt for deals or a unique experience? 
  • Know their schedules. Are your customers more likely to be hooked by a just-in-time SMS communication about a great special, or do they need more time to plan? 
  • Know your goal. Are you offering the promotion to boost revenue, generate buzz or both? If it’s the former, offering a simple discount may be the ticket. If it’s the latter, you’ll want to ask your customers to share with their friends or design a hook that will get the media’s attention.

Start Sending Creative Restaurant Promotions With Textedly

If you’re ready to start using SMS to send creative restaurant promotions, partner with an SMS marketing platform like Textedly. 

Textedly is a user-friendly SMS platform that offers tons of customer support and various features perfect for restaurants, such as message scheduling, unlimited mobile subscribers and picture messaging. 

Sign up for a free Textedly trial now