The “most wonderful time of year” opens heart and wallets, offering great benefits to restaurants and destinations; but, thanks to fierce competition, it also presents great challenges. Follow these steps to make your business, small or large, stand out from the crowd this holiday season.

 

Step 1: Recognize the common and effective trends. See if these will work for you.

During this wintry season, take advantage of all the opportunities before you. Some common and effective holiday trends include giveaways, special deals and offers, and of course holiday parties!

Giveaways can be an effective tool when trying to reach a new audience. Offering a small product or service gratis can encourage someone who has never interreacted with your business to try what you offer because it’s free.

This method’s effectiveness stems from the reluctance of consumers to invest their time and money into a product they don’t know too much about. Offering a giveaway allows a potential consumer to see how great your business or product is without taking a financial risk. This in turn encourages the customer to keep coming back – even if they have to lay down cash.

Special deals and offers work similarly. Though slightly less popular than offering a free product, special offers do allow a more immediate return. Giving a 15% discount, or offering 50% more product (i.e.: “Buy one, Get one Half Off” or “Free Kids’ Meal with Purchase of an Entrée”) is often incentive enough to persuade customers to buy something if they wouldn’t consider paying full price.

Tip: Discounts or offers are an excellent way to entice new customers, and they can help retain the loyalty of current customers*.

Holiday parties are another successful tactic that restaurants and destinations employ this time of year. Free parties or events get people in the door, a crucial component to both restaurants and destinations; face-to-face contact – whether that is in your restaurant or at your park, or merely personal contact with your staff – is the best way to foster brand loyalty.

People enjoy celebrating during the holiday season; Christmas, New Year’s, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Chinese New Year’s, St. Lucia’s Day – there are many cultural holidays and reasons to celebrate during the snowy season. Take advantage of the good cheer by throwing a holiday party or event. An easy incentive might be free appetizers, winter-themed drinks, or festive desserts. Be ready to have extra staff on hand that night – especially bartenders.

Tip: The key to a successful holiday party is creating buzz prior to the event. Want to learn how? Keep reading!

Step 2: Stand out from the competition.

When trying to make your restaurant or destination business stand out from the competition, there are a few things to remember. Create a warm, inviting space and don’t be pushy. People want to feel welcomed and important. However, if someone is not interested, don’t bombard them with invites or offers – accept their decision and move on to the next consumer.

There are also multiple marketing techniques a business can use to stand out. Here are a few that work for any type of restaurant or destination business:

  1. Video Ads – Advertising through videos is one of the more effective means of advertising. Short, captivating videos are more memorable to the everyday consumer than static images. In fact, 64 percent of consumers who view a video ad are more likely to buy a product than if shown a static image ad.
  2. Email Blasts – Email marketing is an effective and cost-efficient mode of exposure. In 2016, email marketing efforts drive more than 27 percent of Black Friday sales.

Here are some important things to remember when sending eblasts:

  1. Have a clear subject line: if you are offering a sale or discount, make it obvious in the subject line to encourage recipients to open the email.
  2. Don’t promote too much in a single eblast: choose two or three things to focus on rather than overwhelming consumers with information.
  3. *Reward your loyal customers with special deals: This is where email marketing can be more efficient than general, and public, social media posts. Send specific emails to loyal customers thanking them for a previous purchase and reward them with a discount for the future.
  1. Posting on Social Media – With the surge in mobile internet use, social media has become an exponentially important marketing tool, especially for restaurants and destinations. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are a great place to post giveaways and discounts – and it’s free! Some examples of giveaway/discount posts include:
    1. Like this post for a chance to win 25% off your next visit.
    2. Comment your favorite meal below for a chance to win that meal for free.
  2. Facebook Ads – Paid Facebook advertisements are another fantastic way to reach people, and work especially well in reaching new consumers. Facebook advertising is also an effective way to build up your social media following, which can give your organic posts more of a boost.
  3. Direct Mail Holiday Cards – Printed holiday cards are a delightful way to remind people of your business without being too pushy. Do NOT try to advertise on your holiday card. Consumers will view it as tacky and desperate. Instead, keep the seasons greeting card a greeting card; a nice gesture, one that doesn’t indicate needing anything in return, will generate or add to a good reputation for your business.

Step 3: Give back if and when you can.

The holiday season is the perfect time to get involved with the community. Even if it’s a small gesture, everything counts to those in need. Donate food to a soup kitchen, volunteer at a holiday charity, or raise funds for a worthy cause. It doesn’t take much to get involved.

Tip: Giving back will not only help others; it could end up helping your business as well.

People often interact with a brand that they feel offers a great product or service, but one that is involved in the community is more likely to retain loyal customers. Your business’ name in the press associated with a kind volunteer service, or a generous donation, will only increase affection for your brand or business. Embrace the spirit of giving and your consumers will see that you care.

We hope you effectively employ these methods to stand out from the competition this holiday season. These and many other strategies can help grow your business. To learn more, contact the social media and marketing experts at Dining Out Marketing Group. Email us at info@diningoutli.com or call us directly at 631-207-1057, ext. 107.

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