How to Create Effective Restaurant Promotions [5 Brilliant Ideas]

How to Create Effective Restaurant Promotions [5 Brilliant Ideas]

Learn here how to create effective restaurant promotions!

Posted by Victor Delgadillo on December 19, 2021

Do you need restaurant promotion ideas for your business?

Here I’ll give you the best ones!

Restaurants are a more complex type of business than people normally think. Not always the idea of eating in a restaurant is attractive enough to attract customers.

Therefore, you must be always looking for trendy restaurant promotions, or better yet, come up with your own promotions to attract customers.

In addition, promotions are also an important part of any customer loyalty campaign.

In this article, I’ll tell you about:

  • The importance of restaurant promotions.
  • I’ll share some examples of effective promotions.
  • About the steps you must follow to create great promotions for your restaurant.

And finally, I'll give you some trendy promotion ideas for you to try in your restaurant.

Let's get started!

Importance of Restaurant Promotions

Group of people in a restaurant celebrating

Promotions are the answer to a fairly simple question.

What can your business offer as a benefit to clients in addition to the experience of eating in your restaurant?

Without promotions, a restaurant can easily get lost in the competition.

Regardless of how attractive the concept of your restaurant is, restaurant businesses in general benefit more from customer loyalty and regular customers, than from attracting new customers.

What can you do about it?

You can create a strategy that helps you attract new customers and strengthen your relationship with regular customers.

Restaurant promotions are perfect for achieving both goals — although you need to define your specific goal to create a good promotion.

Examples of Effective Restaurant Promotions

Special deal and limited offer sign on door and people walking in the background

There are different types of restaurant promotions that you can use in your business. Many have been applied in different establishments for a long time.

However, as the saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

These examples of effective restaurant promotions will help you find and define the path you should take with your restaurant.

Restaurant Birthday Promotions

40th birthday cake in a restaurant table

Is it your birthday? Order a dessert for free!

Birthday promotions in restaurants are as old as the concept of restoration. The main idea is that if someone is having a birthday — and this is proven — that person can obtain certain benefits on their special day.

For example, you may be offered a free meal, a substantial discount on your consumption, free drinks, or a complimentary dessert.

This is great because it attracts specific people to come into your restaurant, plus they will feel appreciated.

They are also very effective because hardly anyone celebrates their birthday alone — if so, you better offer them something for free!

Instead, they are more likely to walk into your restaurant accompanied by friends and family, which is good for your restaurant.

2-For-1 Restaurant Promotions

Buy one, get one free.

Another promotion as old as bread — but that doesn't make it any less effective.

When you offer food that sells very well and has a good profit margin, you can offer this type of promotion in your restaurant with little loss and with a very good profit for your restaurant.

It can be something like a simple dish accompanied by another dish for the purchase.

You can also mix things up a bit with your drinks. Buy this burger and your drink is free.

These promotions are great because it makes people feel good. After all, they think they have found a glitch in the matrix that they can take advantage of.

Sure, you have to make sure that the dish is profitable for your business and that it is not causing unnecessary losses for the sake of marketing.

Limited-Time Restaurant Promotions

We will be offering our specialty burger at half price. This promotion is valid for the next 24 hours starting now. Do not miss this chance!

Limited-time promotions are beneficial in many ways:

  • They can help you attract tons of new customers.
  • They can help you build loyalty with customers who already love your food.
  • They can be useful if you have products in your inventory that are nearing their expiration date in a month or so.
  • And they can help you win back some money at the end of a month with low sales.

These promotions are great because they appeal to FOMO or fear of missing something.

Again, you must define very well the rules of this type of promotion to prevent your restaurant from going bankrupt due to a bad managerial stunt.

Note: If the products expire tomorrow or in a week, or are in bad condition, please do not use them in a promotion. Causing health problems for your guests will have a very negative effect on the reputation of your restaurant and surely cause legal problems. Better to count them as losses, donate them, or take them home. Prepare a banquet at home!

Regular Customer Promotions 

Family in a restaurant with a table ready for the service

Regular customer promotions are perfect for letting your customers know that you appreciate their business.

These types of promotions require you to have a good technological infrastructure, a point of sale that registers your customers, and excellent waiters.


Because they are very personalized promotions to the specific client.

For example, if you know that a customer has favorite dishes on your restaurant menu, offer them a discount on that dish every time they order it.

You can also offer special anniversary or birthday promotions.

In addition, you can treat them in a special way when they are in your restaurant.

Best of all, you don't need to spend a lot of money on these types of strategies. Just thinking about the diner's preferences and keeping them in mind when offering the service is enough.

Holiday Promotions

Christmas nutcracker decoration

This Christmas, we'll celebrate with all the Christmas-themed drinks in our bar at half price. Merry Christmas!

Holiday promotions are the perfect excuse to generate better profits at your restaurant on specific days.

Classic examples are Mother's Day, Father's Day, Valentine's Day, Saint Patrick's Day, Kings Day, Children's Day, and more.

You can also make up your own holidays to commemorate a special date for your restaurant. So you can celebrate achievements, important dates, and reward your regular customers.

One holiday that is more popular each year in restaurants is Oktoberfest or a similar promotion. You can easily take advantage of this celebration in your restaurant or bar, with games, decoration, prices, and special meals.

Group Promotions

Group promotions are perfect for attracting different types of groups to your restaurant.

They can be groups of friends, family groups, groups of musicians, workgroups, and more.

These types of promotions offer many advantages:

  • You will have more sales in your restaurant.
  • You can generate more profit, especially if you offer small percentage discounts.
  • You will be able to attract new customers to the restaurant.
  • And you can attract customers who have received recommendations about your restaurant.

Also, you could ask these groups if you can take pictures of them to post on social media.

This will greatly benefit your restaurant from different points of view!

Weekday Promotions

Every Monday, students in uniform can opt for a free breakfast.

Every Wednesday the ladies pay 20% less for our cocktails.

Regular promotions that repeat every week are great for building a regular and loyal customer base.

In addition, they are particularly good for restaurants that serve cocktails and also for bars.

They're great for boosting your business a bit on the laziest days of the week.

And if you can get enough attention these days, you can even make them the best of the month.

Steps to Create the Best Restaurant Promotions

Restaurant table set for the service

Creating promotions is harder than you think. If you do not know how to create new promotions, this section will help you a lot to create them so that they are:

  • Profitable.
  • Beneficial for your business.
  • And that they are in line with your target audience.

To the steps!

1. Define the Objectives of Your Promotion

The objectives of the promotion should be as specific as possible.

Some common goals are:

  • Increase sales.
  • Increase profits.
  • Help your marketing strategy.
  • Get testimonials from your restaurant.
  • Improve sales on slow days.
  • Improve the sales of certain dishes or drinks.
  • Build regular customers loyalty.
  • Attract new clients.

My recommendation is that you do a general analysis of how your restaurant is doing financially, how its marketing strategy works, and more.

Then, you can create objectives based on the real needs of your business.

2. Study Your Target Audience

As in any marketing strategy, one of the first steps is to do a market analysis that gives you information about your target audience and buyer persona.

In this case, the analysis must be specific about the consumption habits of your customers.

The promotion you want to create should hit the nail in the head, so the more information you have, the better.

This is the information you will need:

  • Your customers' favorite dishes.
  • The least sold dishes or which ones cause the most losses.
  • What days are lazy in your restaurant.

And more depending on the objectives of your promotion.

You can obtain this information by studying the sales reports of each dish, profit percentages per dish, the average sales percentages for each day of the week, of the month, and more.

You can obtain all this information from your POS system.

You can also do satisfaction surveys in your restaurant to get direct responses from your diners.

3. Think of Ways to Meet Your Goals

This is the most complex step because you must put your creativity to work.

Depending directly on the objective of the promotion, you must create a plan that will help you achieve it.

There are a few rules. The first is that you do not talk about the fight club. Ugh, no, that's not it.

The rule is that anything goes as long as you can offer something of value to your restaurant customers.

Sure, that's just one rule of thumb when it comes to creative promotions, as the second rule will be that you never create a promotion that negatively affects your restaurant's finances.

With these two rules in mind, the sky is the limit.

I recommend that you think of promotions that make sense to achieve the defined objectives.

For example, it would not make sense to offer a percentage discount to groups to try to retain regular customers.

Instead, it would make more sense to offer discounts to customers who have visited your restaurant more than three or five times.

4. Think About the Limitations of Promotions

Promotions are not endless, nor should they be detrimental to your business. Therefore, you must create rules for the promotions.

These rules shouldn't be particularly strict, but they should make sense, and protect your restaurant from losses.

For example, if you want to offer a birthday discount, you can indicate that an important requirement is that the birthday person brings their identification.

Another example would be that only the birthday person receives a discount on their consumption.

These rules will help you avoid misunderstandings, as well as stop that type of client who seeks to take advantage of a poorly defined system.

5. Apply the Promotion as a Limited Offer as a Test

I recommend that you offer it for a limited time so that you can test different aspects of your restaurant for the duration of this promotion:

  • How the kitchen works with the promotion.
  • How finances work.
  • How the restaurant's service and waiters work.

This is important so that you can fix certain problems with the promotion.

For example, if you offer a 50% discount on a dish, you can cause a disaster in the kitchen because everyone orders the same dish.

It's also a good idea to work with your wait staff so they know how to deliver promotions, how to treat customers and more.

There is nothing worse than a waiter who looks down on you because you want to take advantage of a promotion!

These types of problems are difficult to identify without practice.

6. Decide Whether to Apply for the Promotion or to Go Back to the Planning Table

After testing the promotion, it is time to decide if it is applicable, if it lacks some work, or if it’s just a bad idea.

Again, I recommend that you pay attention to finances, performance in the kitchen, and more details that are a result of the promotion.

Restaurant Promotion Ideas

Now I will give you some ideas that you can use as promotions for your restaurant.

These ideas are trendy, interesting, and can generate many benefits for your business.

1. Offer Promotions for Participants of Social Events

Something that has been happening a lot worldwide is social demonstrations, such as marches that support certain causes.

If this happens, you can join the cause by offering discounts, free cold water, and more to people who are part of the demonstration.

This is a great way to support different causes with your business, which will be great for your reputation and for establishing your brand image.

2. Offer Young Adult Promotions

Young person working in a restaurant

Young adult promotions can be beneficial in attracting this demographic to your restaurant. You can offer them on a specific day of the week with discounts for millennials and more.

Millennial Tuesdays, with discounts on coffee, matcha tea, and complimentary snacks doesn't sound bad at all. It’s a millennial telling you!

3. Create Surprise Promotions With Limited Dishes

People eating dessert in a restaurant

Advertise on your social media that you are trying a new dish or dessert that is very well received in your area, and that you will only be serving 50 of them.

You can also create a giveaway for these dishes with your followers who have gone to your restaurant.

This will be great to get the most out of the FOMO.

4. Create Delivery or Take-Out Promotions

Have you recently added a delivery service to your restaurant? Create a promotion of a few free dishes that you deliver by delivery!

This will help you get noticed, attract new customers, put the delivery service to the test, and also get testimonials on how great this new service is.

It is very important that you kindly ask for photos or an Instagram story showing how the food arrived so that you can use them as real testimonials.

5. Create Promotions for Specific Demographic Segments

Promotions for:

  • People with cats or dogs. Make a vote to see who wins on social networks and offer a promotion to the winner.
  • Gamers, streamers, YouTubers, and other local content creators. Offer discounts to content creators and you may be able to get something in return. Ahem, influencer marketing.
  • Nearby company workers, healthcare professionals, online workers, and more. Offer discounts to reward them for their good work!

And more, you can choose any segment that is or is not part of your target audience to create a promotion.

Remember the steps above and you will have everything covered.

Restaurant Promotions Are a Double-Edged Sword

Finally, I want to warn you again that a promotion can be great, but it can also seriously hurt your restaurant.

The good news is that it is a matter of planning.

If you create a good marketing strategy, a good promotion that is profitable, and with well-defined rules, few things can go wrong.

And you? Are you using promotions in your restaurant?

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