Monday, February 6, 2012

5 Last Minute Restaurant Marketing Tips in Time for Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is almost here and, of course, that’s one of the most important nights in a restaurant’s calendar.  Couples will be taking to the streets and looking for a perfect night out to top off (or possibly to just begin) their evening of romance.  Your wait staff, of course, should be in their best form, ready to make every couple’s dinner their best dinner ever. However, if you’re still trying to think of the right ‘hook’ to make sure every table is booked all evening & guests come back for more, here are a few tips to make this February 14th your best Valentine’s Day too.

Set Menus

Sure, it’s an old standby, but it still makes the evening feel special to the patrons.  Instead of your regular menu, create a few set menus especially themed for the evening, with everything coming in portions built for two, each paired with the perfect wines from your cellar.  You have to prepare fewer dishes that way, but you can still charge a premium for the meal and happy couples will pay without complaint.  Plus, don’t forget to dress up the menu itself, too!  A great menu cover will drive home how special the meal is, designed from top to bottom for Valentine’s.

Aim for Ambiance

Do what you can to rearrange the place and make the layout especially for couples.  Get rid of large tables and for the love of St. Valentine, shut off those bright overhead lights.  Dim lights and candlelight should be the rule of the day, even if you’re just a cafe.  If you’ve got the time, try to make each table its own little “pocket” of warm light, and pull out some partitions to isolate one table from another..  An intimate meal makes for an intimate couple, and they’ll remember you for it fondly.

Go Exclusive

Not every restaurant can do this, but give it some thought.  Few things can put a damper on a couple’s fiery evening faster than having to stand in line for an hour just to make it to the bar, only to wait ages more for their food to arrive.  Worse, if this happens you can be sure they’ll blame your restaurant for the crowd and refuse to come back.  If you make Valentine’s Day a special reservation-only evening, you can ensure you are giving the truly best service to the most people you possibly can – and no more.

Roll Out the Social Media Bandwagon

When preparing your ad campaign for your V-day delights, don’t neglect the Internet, especially if you’re aiming your arrows at younger couples.  This is the time to dust off your Facebook page, Twitter account, email lists, and Google Local listing.  Best of all, Internet promotions are free (well…they do take time so I guess they aren’t 100% free).  Also, while coupon nights are generally a bit lame and can feel tacky, having small, exclusive promotions that are only for your online customers can also help bring in the hip crowds.   Besides, they’re never too young to become a valuable regular at your restaurant!

And finally, call this one an unValentine’s Promotion:

Have a Singles Night the Day Before

This lets you stretch a single holiday into two days!  There are plenty of people who always feel left out on Valentine’s.  Why not give them their own evening, with its own menu and promotions, the day before?  Be playful with it.  You could give menu items names like “The Souffle of Self” or perhaps “The Bachelor Pad Thai,” playing up the virtues of being single.  Plus, if some lonely singles happen to meet at the bar, perhaps they’d be interested in making reservations for the following evening…

These are just a few ways your restaurant can succeed this Valentine’s Day season.

What specials are you running at your establishment on the 14th?