D.C. Restaurant Week events are arguably one of the most busy times of the year aside from your typical holidays on the calendar.
However, unlike the holidays, which are always going to draw in more crowds, D.C. Restaurant Week can either be a huge win, or a total flop. It all depends on how well you market your participation in the event.
With the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington putting on the Winter Restaurant Week at the end of this month (it’s January 25-31), we wanted to give you our top tips for letting people know that you’ll be participating in the event and how to whet their appetite so they’ll pay you a visit and become your latest loyal customers.
Here are 5 tips for ramping up your marketing for restaurant week:
1.) Talk it Up on Social Media
First and foremost you’ll also want to consistently post updates to your social media pages telling your audience and anyone who happens to search for you through the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington’s website what you’ll have to offer come Restaurant Week.
The first thing you’ll want to do is make sure you have a dedicated page on your website that features your limited-time Restaurant Week menu and special dining offers. This page should also prominently feature your restaurant’s Open Table account so site visitors can make reservations, and there should also be an area for people to subscribe to your email list (hey, if they’re on your site, you want to get their info).
Then you get to the posting. Post sneak peek images of your Restaurant Week menu items, post throwback pictures from previous Restaurant Weeks, and post the RAMW Restaurant Week logo. All of these posts should include a call to action to visit your site, come out for Restaurant Week or to set a reservation as well as a link to the aforementioned Restaurant Week page on your website.
And don’t forget to use the hashtags associated with D.C. Restaurant Week (#RWDMV) as well as other hyperlocal foodie hashtags (like #dcdining, #districteats and #dmvfood just to name a few) that will place your posts within the feeds of your ideal customers looking to map out their Restaurant Week adventures.
2.) Ads Aren’t Optional
We know you hate the low organic reach that social media (ahem, Facebook) gives you, but join the club.
If you want to get your Restaurant Week posts seen and clicked on, you need to pony up the cash. Don’t worry, it doesn’t take much and you’ll be happy with your ROI. So get over your grudge, create a few targeted ads and boosted posts, and feel confident about your online Restaurant Week marketing efforts.
If you need more convincing with the Facebook ads, go read this blog post on “Why You Need to Use Facebook Ads for Effective Restaurant Marketing.”
3.) Use Signage and Visuals
Put flyers in your restaurant windows, an insert in your menus, and add a marketing piece in to your table tents, make it clearly visible that you’re participating in this event from every vantage point of your restaurant.
Just because social media and online marketing are the top avenues for spreading the word about what’s going on in your restaurant, you still need to be catching those passerby on the street and people already dining with you (who would be mostly likely to invite others to participate in a night out at your establishment during Restaurant Week).
Speaking of online, you’ll also want to make sure your virtual restaurant real estate (your website) features a visual regarding your participating in Restaurant Week. Make the large banner image or an image in your sidebar show that you’ll be participating in Restaurant Week and have those images link to the event menu and deals page on your website.
4.) Push the Reservations
You’re offering big deals during Restaurant Week, so it’s obvious you need to ensure that you’re going to have a good turnout or else you’re not going to have a very good ROI on this event.
To help with ensuring your Restaurant Week success, you need to play in to the supply and demand. Talk about how you have a limited supply of tables, create a sense of urgency and see a bump in your demand.
Your can do this by frequently posting the link to your restaurant’s Open Table reservation page on your social media accounts, have servers remind your current diners to reserve their Restaurant Week tables, and if anyone calls inquiring about your participation in Restaurant Week, prompt them to set their reservation right then.
When you make a heavy push on getting those interested in Restaurant Week to make their reservations now, you’ll be able to forecast what to expect so your front and back of house can be properly prepared.
5.) Get Repeat Customers
This last one isn’t a pre-marketing strategy, but it’s still crucial to the success of your Restaurant Week experience nonetheless.
You might hear from other restaurant managers that participating in restaurant week events are great for exposure, but they don’t have a huge ROI since the majority of Restaurant Week diners are simply looking for great deals. They’ll eat at your place for a bargain, never to return.
This is true to a degree, because some people are just like that, but you can’t head in to Restaurant Week with that mindset. Instead, you need to take the approach that you’re lowering the barrier of entry for someone new to try out your restaurant.
If you wow them on this initial experience, they’ll be more inclined to come back, but if you really want to make it trackable on who returns to your restaurant, give your Restaurant Week diners an exclusive deal to use next time they come in to their restaurant.
Whether it’s a free appetizer or dessert, give someone the incentive to come back again, since these are diners who enjoy a good deal, they’ll most likely take you up on your offer. And if you impress them again the second time around with stellar service and food? Well, you’ve done a good job of securing what will most likely become a loyal customer.
Are you participating in D.C. Restaurant Week this year? Have you done it before or is this not your first rodeo?
Let us know how you’re planning to get the word out and how successful Restaurant Week is for your restaurant!