As the weather cools down, it’s time to start shelving the summer spritzers. While mojitos and Arnold Palmers are absolutely delicious, it’s crucially important for your restaurant to change with the seasons. There was a time when seasonal menu changes were a niche move that only worked for a handful of establishments. Those days are long gone -- having some kind of seasonal menu is basically a requirement in today’s F+B landscape. But, once you’ve made your seasonal menu -- how do you get the word out, especially in a post-covid world? Today, we’re going through some tips for successfully marketing your seasonal menu.
Social media is a sort of Swiss army knife for marketing in today’s world. Any changes your restaurant goes through should be published on all of your social media channels -- prominently! Social media provides a way to keep your customers engaged even when they aren’t physically at your restaurant. This type of unprecedented connectivity makes social media platforms perfect for marketing seasonal menu changes. And don’t be shy -- it may take more than one or two posts to get the word out.
Creating some food-and-drink pairings is another fantastic way to put your seasonal menu changes center-stage this fall. After all, isn’t a nice, autumnal scotch drink just begging to be paired with a hearty pot roast? If your menu changes include both food and drink, creating unique, exciting pairings is the way to go. You should also offer these pairings at a discount -- if the drink is $10 and the food is $15, consider a $20-$22 price point for the pairing. Guests who are looking to embrace the changing seasons will surely love this kind of option. In addition, they may consider ordering the drink or the food individually during their next visit.
If you’re trying to promote a certain group of drinks or food, you shouldn’t try to stuff them into the corner of your regular menu. Instead, highlight your seasonal options by creating dedicated, seasonal menus. This is a surefire way to let guests know that your seasonal offerings are really something special. In addition, you won’t have to reformat your entire regular menu each time you want to do seasonal drinks. The key here is to make sure that every patron gets handed a seasonal menu alongside the full menu.
Changing your decor is another way to highlight the seasonal changes going on at your restaurant. It could be as simple as dimming the lights or closing the shades to create a more intimate, moody autumnal vibe. Or, you may want to change out any summery photography that is hanging on the walls. You don’t need to scrap your entire restaurant and rebuild, but making a few subtle changes can really get guests in the fall spirit. Of course, the more you can get your guests excited about the season, the more likely they are to order a seasonal item. Maybe throw a pumpkin or two into the mix!
This falls under the idea of ‘trend stacking’. There’s no doubt that people love to eat (and drink) local. Supporting local producers does a whole world of good for the community, and customers are happy to pay extra to do this. So, we suggest highlighting local producers within your seasonal menu changes. For example, looking for a pumpkin beer? Don’t reach right for the old standby -- instead, ask your rep to see what breweries in your area have to offer. If customers can get something local and seasonal, that’s going to create a winning combination for sure.
It’s easy to focus on beer when it comes to seasonality. After all, it feels like a hundred different beers come out each week. But, don’t forget to add some cocktails to your seasonal menus. This will help your seasonal offerings appeal to those who aren’t only interested in beer. Wine is another great thing that can be seasonally appropriate. A light, buttery Chardonnay is perfect for summer, but a dark, oaky Malbec may be just the thing for the winter crowd. Keep your seasonal menus diverse enough that they will appeal to a wide range of customers.
Happy Hour is a great way to bring in new customers. People are more likely to try new restaurants if the perceived risks (aka: menu prices) are lower. That makes Happy Hour the perfect opportunity to roll out your seasonal specials. We suggest including two or three of your seasonal items in your Happy Hour offerings. This reduces the barrier-to-entry for customers, making them more willing to try seasonal specials. Use your Happy Hour menu as a way to ‘tease’ your seasonal specials. If (and when) customers find a seasonal item they love during happy hour, they will be much more likely to return for that same item, even at its full price. This can also help with word of mouth -- customers love to share their new discoveries, after all!
If trained properly, your staff can be walking, talking billboards for your seasonal offerings. It’s very important to get your employees on board with these items. They can steer customers towards seasonal options from the second the customers sit down! Your staff can be one of the most powerful marketing tools you have, if you know how to use them correctly!
Well -- sort of. Seasonal items need to be new. Don’t just swap out one ingredient of a year-round item to make something winter-friendly. Be bold! Be creative! Start from the ground up to craft a unique, adventurous seasonal menu that capitalizes on your customers’ current wants and needs. It’s important that you take an ‘all-in’ approach to your seasonal menu -- it should embrace and celebrate the changing season, after all. Creating a menu that is truly celebratory will entice more customers and get more people into the spirit.
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