Reduce the chances of empty seats this Christmas...with these 'top-ten-tips-off-the-top-of-my-head!' Say it fast after taste-testing the mulled wine (-;
Having worked in Foodservice marketing for years, I know that there's a diverse approach towards Christmas. Some hotels and restaurants want their menus planned to the last pea as soon as Easter has passed. Other pubs and cafes are only just drawing breath from the summer chaos when the festive strain kicks in. Never was I able to spot a trend amongst different business types, styles or regions...and nor would I say that the early planners always had the greatest success. So, it's not too late, but as we begin October it's certainly time to be taking the first steps.
book in and gather up
1. Most magazines have their advert submission dates for Nov/Dec issues around mid-October, with bookings usually arranged a week or two before (so, now! I've already a few underway). So, if you're keen to make the press and need support in creating an advert, now is the time to be asking. Remember, many printed magazines offer digital versions, online directories and social support as part of the package, so check to see how you can maximise value - or maybe receive a discount for the elements that hold no benefit to you yet (they rarely offer, so you [or I] will need to negotiate this).
2. It's never too late to give your mailing list a boost...and your efforts now will make the difference to being able to act upon my 'last minute tactics' in December. (They'll also contribute towards an even more prosperous Christmas next year). The truth is that GDPR has made some of the simpler tactics now a no-no, but create a good incentive and customers will still sign-up. Not only can you then send more targeted email-marketing messages, but you'll also be able to build up a better picture of your most engaging customer groups...which will help with other tactics to lift footfall later.
I highly recomend Mailchimp for easy email marketing (they make GDPR compliance simple), but be sure to keep it creative and reflective of your brand. Feeling self-conscious that you can't really define your brand? Don't be, it's not uncommon but it is well worth sorting, just click here for support.
3. Can you accommodate company parties or team lunches? If so, get in there now! It's a looming headache for some unlucky staff members, so make it easier by sending a menu with a quick tick-box form that they can circulate. Don't be embarressed about cold-calling, most of the time they'll be relieved you've helped get something off their to-do list! (Just avoid Monday mornings).
Worried re catering for large parties but keen not to miss out? I work with some great chefs who offer freelance support for menu development, and foodservice specialists who are totally on the ball with quick cheats and efficiency boosters. It's all part of how BrandLanterns can support you (-:
house in order
4. With your summer menu now behind you, Autumn is the perfect time to give your venue a few cosy touches, which needn't cost much but shows you care and can make for some inviting social media posts (ask me if you need inspiration!). If you're at risk of letting your alfresco area become redundant over winter, then refuse to let that profit slip and let blankets, candles and a well-designed, eye-catching heater give you a whole new space to promote and an enhanced customer experience (Nordic styles are still popular and easier to pull off on a lower budget!).
5. Before website traffic should naturally start to peak, make sure your website is looking as good as possible, is simple to navigate and well optimised for search engines. It's also not too late to create a website if you're without one (and needn't be a huge investment), or temporary landing pages for christmas messages are quick to knock up and may be a solution. Either way, dismiss 'online' and you'll definitely miss out. If it all feels a bit techy, BrandLanterns can help, but it's best to act now for best results.
don't risk becoming a broken record
6. It may only be October, but the Christmas posters are up (don't forget those undervalued toilet doors and bathroom walls!) and there's a flutter of snowflakes across Facebook and Instagram. You can't afford to hold back, but nor do you want to become boring over time. So start with early-bird incentives, then go for FOMO tactics (fear-of-missing-out), then offer behind-the-scenes kitchen insights, then last-minute offers etc. Putting a structure in place not only keeps you and your customers sane, but makes measuring and learning more insightful during the January review too. For support building up festive footfall, get in touch.
share the strain
7. If you have a dedicated Account Manager at your preferred foodservice wholesaler, then make the most of them. After all, they should be filled with new product suggestions, menu costs and smart sales tips to save you some thinking time. Samples and free POS (Point-of-sale/marketing materials) are often available through them too, but you'll usually need to ask for it.
have a hoot!
8. You're in a rare and lucky position if you have a social media assistant, and crafting some witty, succinct posts with enticing photos can elicit brain-freeze when a long shift is over. BrandLanterns can obviously lift away that strain, but if you're keen to go it alone then at least set yourself up with a Hootsuite or Tweetdeck dashboard (or similar). It allows you to schedule your posts in advance, so you can still seem totally 'on it' throughout your busiest times or well-earned rest time.
power of the pull up
9. Pull-up banners are now pretty cheap (as low as £30 to print, and these lower quality ones work fine just for Christmas promotions). I can design them pretty quick and yet make them amazingly effective. So, if you have the right sort of place* for one, it could well be worth a thought! (If you need ideas for the hard-hitting message or promotion, just say). *P.s., don't just consider whether you have space inside your venue. Think about where your customers are visiting at other times (local attractions, weekly markets etc), and arrange a 'swop' so that you can site a pop-up there, and offer a favour in return (e.g. display their brochures, or hand over a discount voucher of theirs with every receipt).
christmas calls for lanterns!
10. BrandLanterns...surely just my name makes me an ideal Christmas partner!? In my About page, I acknowledged the importance of getting smart about what really matters, and recognising when getting help is the quickest route to your own success. I'm therefore claiming #10 for BrandLanterns, as whether working with just myself or my extended team, it would be great to make BrandLanterns your most helpful discovery of all. SJ x.
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