September is a tough month for restaurants. In 2014, Businessweek reported that the month known for kids being back in school, the football season resuming, and a great Earth, Wind & Fire song is also the worst for casual dining. The rest of fall isn’t exactly great for restaurants, either.
A key to overcoming the fall slowdown is to get creative with advertising and marketing. Here are eight restaurant advertising tips for filling your tables this autumn:
1. Fall Promotions
To counter the decrease in customers this fall, you may want to consider promotions you wouldn’t normally attempt the rest of the year. This can come in the form of three fall-specific restaurant advertising tips:
- Boost the value of your coupons—maybe 30 percent off a meal instead of 20 percent.
- Consider food specials (like a Taco Tuesday) just for the season to draw more diners. Be sure to advertise these specials through your usual channels (including social media) so that potential customers know of the offer that awaits them in your restaurant.
- Add fall-related foods, such as pumpkin recipes, apple desserts, and seasonal beers, to your menu—and again, be sure to advertise these one-season-only items.
2. Football Specials
Time for kickoff! Get those people who normally would be glued to their TVs watching the game to instead watch it in your restaurant. Appetizer or drink deals for Saturday and Sunday afternoons (or Monday and Thursday nights) are a great way to draw crowds. Also, if you can’t get football fans to your restaurant, bring your restaurant to them by offering takeout and delivery specials. And as with all the restaurant advertising tips in this post, be sure to promote any specials you do offer.
3. Back-to-School Specials
One reason that restaurant sales drop in September is that kids are back in school and parents already have spent a ton of money on supplies and clothes. Use this to your advantage by offering back-to-school discounts for busy parents who are still trying to figure out their schedules and will appreciate someone else doing the cooking.
4. School Sources
With school back in session, new advertising channels are open again for your restaurant to pursue. Many schools sell banner space on the fences and walls at their stadiums; your ad there is good exposure and reminds spectators that they might be hungry and can visit your restaurant after the game. Printed programs for games and plays may also include advertising and give you another way to market your restaurant this fall.
September will end, and come October, families start gearing up for Halloween. This is a fun time of year—and a time of year that restaurants can take advantage of creative marketing. We already mentioned pumpkin-based dishes, and you can also run and advertise Halloween-based promotions (e.g., free appetizer for families dressed in costume!).
6. Register Tape Advertising
If you think your fall advertising strategy might entail trying something new, register tape advertising is an inexpensive, effective channel for restaurants. Coupons for your business are printed on the back of grocery store receipts given to customers every time they shop. Ads can be tailored to the season, so your latest fall coupon can immediately reach the community, most of whom are shopping in the same vicinity as your restaurant. And at a low cost (on average, $6 to reach 1,000 people), register tape advertising is much more cost-efficient than TV, radio, and newspaper options.
7. Update Your Website
The season is fall, so your website can’t look like it’s still promoting summer (or worse, spring or winter). Update your site to reflect autumn and to include any seasonal offers and menus you are featuring. Just be sure to update it again once those offers conclude and/or you reach Thanksgiving; customers will be turned off if they see on your website that you are making a pumpkin-spiced latte, only to visit your store and find out you stopped serving it three weeks earlier.
8. Link Digital and Print Advertising
Whatever restaurant advertising tips you use for this fall, be sure to maximize your marketing. The choice isn’t whether to use digital marketing over print or vice versa but instead how to effectively use both together. Print coupons received at a grocery store can include a web address or Instagram handle for customers to visit at their convenience. Your Facebook page can direct fans to look for coupons in the newspaper or at the local grocery store. Linking digital and print puts some extra power into your restaurant advertising—and in the fall, you need all the help you can get.
What fall restaurant advertising tips have been successful for you?