Seasonal Marketing: Smart Summer Tips for Restaurant Owners

Summer's not over! Draw in more patrons with these seasonal marketing tips that may help turn your restaurant into a hot spot.
August 16, 2016

Restaurant owners may hear a fair amount about how to get through a year's lean times. But what about strategies that may help amp up sales and bring in tourists and locals seeking refreshing libations and delicious summer menu items? Even though summer is drawing to a close, there may still be time to boost your sales. Let's have a look at how you may be able to use seasonal marketing to help make your restaurant's summer sales season even more successful than years past. You may find that these suggestions can help all year round.

Patio Strategy

You may have seen the look on your patrons' faces when your patio finally opens for the season. Now, how can you make the most of this high-demand summer seating area? Peak hours may not be problem, but here's a tip that may help make your patio the place to be between rush periods: off-hour specials. You can keep the weight on your bar and kitchen light—and revenues up—with a rotating set of specials throughout the week to entice mid-day visitors.

From the time lunch rush ends until the happy hour or dinner crowd rolls in, consider using seasonal marketing to make your patio a desirable destination with patio-only specials. You may want to drop off flyers with your off-hours patio specials at surrounding hotels and office building entrances to let folks know you're open and ready.

Family Fun

If you have nights that are slower than others, consider making one of those evenings a family night. Consider sending out marketing to local hotels, day camps, schools and after-school programs, or anywhere you'll find parents coming and going.

For the summer months, why don't you consider adding a loyalty program to keep people coming to your restaurant?

Creating a fixed kid's menu that caters to kids of a diverse age range may appeal to your new family night crowd. While you're at it, consider offering a deal or two for the parents. Specials on one adult drink (to encourage responsible travel), a percentage off parent meals and kids programming on your TVs instead of the sports game du jour are some ways to get a family into your restaurant. An affordable night out where parents can be parents and kids can be kids might find your dining room—and your register—filling up in short order.

Oh, and you may want to make social media a part of the seasonal marketing for your family night push. Consider sharing fun pictures featuring fun-having families with your digital world. (Just make sure you ask your patrons' permission to post their pictures on social media.)

Loyalty Royalty

For the summer months, why don't you consider adding a loyalty program to keep people coming to your restaurant?

Whether via a punch card or an in-store beacon system like Flok, it helps to make it easy for your summer customers to sign up.

You can also help encourage people to participate by making the loyalty program's benefits meaningful. (Hey, are you willing to trade 10 percent off their bill for a host of repeat customers all summer long?) You can host drawings, daily giveaways and peak-hour promos—like a special on margaritas from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. daily—exclusively for loyalty program members. And always requiring an email address to participate may help you keep your loyalty program members up-to-date on seasonal marketing and other news all year long.

Want to add more oomph to your loyalty program? Consider making their discount or offer just a bit sweeter than your existing deals. For example, your off-hours patio deal might offer 2-for-1 margaritas to the public. If that total bill is $8 for two margs, consider letting your loyalty program members have it for $7.

Add Instagram

Consider making your seasonal marketing work even harder by hosting an Instagram contest. Some suggestions? Have your patrons design a cocktail or even just share a snapshot of their friends on your patio. Instagram can be a driver of social engagement and traffic, so you may want to encourage patrons to tag their posts with your special hashtag.

Choosing a weekly winner may help keep the contest going. (It may also provide you with easy-to-share content.) Having on-table signage and training your hosts and servers to share the week's contest with folks as they're greeted may help encourage people to participate. You may want to take photos of winners and share them on Instagram and your other social media outlets as well.

You could also make a snazzy Instagram marketing graphic for each week's new promotion or contest. Using low-cost or free online design tools like Canva can help you create high-caliber Instagram graphics.


For more tips on finding new customers, download our exclusive guide from Guy Kawasaki, The Art of Getting Customers.


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Photo: iStock