After a long, cold winter, it may be tough to muster up the motivation you need to vamp up your restaurant marketing strategy in time for spring weather. But with major dining out holidays around the corner and graduation season about to kick into high gear, it’s worth it to spend time now coming up with a plan for the next few months.
Here are six of our favorite spring marketing campaign ideas any restaurant can use
1. Create a Spring Restaurant Menu
The clocks don’t have to be the only thing that jumps forward this spring. Take advantage of the warmer weather – and the cabin fever your guests are feeling – and add some new “pop” to your restaurant menu design.
- Take focus away from heavy soups and put lighter salads in the spotlight
- Consider adding smoothies to your restaurant’s brunch or weekday breakfast menu – yes breakfast items are still a trend, and they’re not going anywhere soon
- Give fruit-based desserts the spotlight instead of heavier chocolate-based items, they evoke the freshness of the season
Not ready for a menu overhaul? You don’t necessarily have to ask your chef to change a thing for this spring marketing tip. Rethink your menu layout to highlight existing items in a new way and shift diner perception. Simply thinking about the lighter items your customers are looking for and making it easier for them to find them could yield positive results.
Pro Tip: Are your frozen cocktails better than the rest? Add them into your promotional marketing for “Spring Fever Happy Hour”.
2. Ditch Cabin Fever: Event Based Marketing
For so many of your customers, getting out of the house and doing something is a huge benefit of the warmer, spring weather. Use this to your advantage. What can your business offer, besides great food, to entice customers to spend their Friday night, Tuesday afternoon or Sunday brunch with you?
- Can your kitchen handle a large crowd? Offer craft brew tasting at your bar
- Promote your brunch more heavily throughout the spring – and don’t forget brunch-centric holidays such as Mother’s Day and Easter.
- Do you have outdoor seating at your restaurant? Throw a grand re-opening or invite guests to enjoy live music outdoors while they’re dining
3. Stop and Smell The Roses: Play On Emotions
You can really put a spin on the feelings spring evokes in all of us. Great brands develop emotional connections with their customers – and the product comes second. Think about the experience of going for ice cream, what makes it such an event for people? A hot summer day, the beach, nice weather, a picnic perhaps.
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A successful restaurant owner knows that the experience is just as important as the food – and a strong positive memory is a powerful tool in bringing guests back. So how can you capitalize on that with spring marketing in mind?
- Do you have flowers on the table regularly? If not, spring is a good time to add some color, and light scent, to the table – smells are strong emotional triggers.
- What is the lighting like in your restaurant? Let in the natural sunlight during the springtime so even if customers are sitting indoors, they feel the warm glow of that spring sunshine.
- Spring is a time when gardens start to come to life, and chefs capitalize on reawakened farmers markets that add fresh inspiration to their menus. Get social and challenge your customers to post photos of their budding gardens, their springtime trips to the farmers market, or the first batch of ramps cooking on the stove – it’s a reason to stay tuned to your feed (where you might also be sharing promotions and events) and will remind customers of the quality of your ingredients.
Pro Tip: You don’t have to spend a lot to make a bang. Social media is free advertising and a chance to stand out from the crowd as well as show you understand and care about your customers.
4. Talk About the Weather
For great, in-the-moment, effective restaurant marketing on social networks, put up warm weather specials just while everyone is newly excited about the rising temperatures and wanting to get out of the house. Maybe you are opening up your patio, or have a spring themed drink- make sure you are promoting these things so your guests know before they even walk through your door.
5. Spring Holidays
Although not as big as winter holidays, running some fun promotions for spring holidays is also an option. Many restaurants recently offered traditional Irish food for St. Patrick’s Day, drink specials and other retailers played up the green and “lucky” associations. Don’t forget Passover approaching if you offer kosher foods! And Easter and Mother’s Day can be popular days for brunch, or even a dinner. Whether you’re looking for prix fixe menu tips for spring holidays (Mother’s Day and Easter), or just a little bit of inspiration for building customer loyalty, we’ve got you covered.
6. Sports & March Madness
Baseball season hasn’t officially started, but it is heavily anticipated with several televised Spring Training games happening every day that would bring fans into your bar or restaurant who are already looking to predict the season’s big match-ups and standings. If you have a lot of hockey fans amongst your loyal customers, you may want to start planning now for the Stanley Cup Playoffs that begin in April! And don’t forget about NCAA games! In fact, “March Madness” is a fun and popular phrase to tie into marketing, even if your business isn’t a bar that shows the games!
These tips are only the beginning. Learn more in our Restaurant Marketing Guide!