Tried and True Promotional Campaigns for Your Restaurant

Coupons, deals, and promotions are a tried and true way to boost customer traffic for any kind of business. For restaurant promotions, these marketing tactics tend to come in the form of Happy Hour specials, Daily Deals, or even coupons on particular items. When done correctly, restaurant promotions can significantly increase customer traffic and profits for the business. Though, for restaurant owners and managers, the challenge is balancing between creating enticing promotions while not cutting too much into potential profits. In order to create a highly effective and profitable promotion, consider holidays, customer preferences, and price.

20% is the Magic Number for Restaurant Promotions

There’s a fine line between creating a discount that is enticing to customers, but not too much that it hurts your bottom line. Customers will go out of their way of they believe they will enjoy the promotional item and percentage. The question to ask yourself is “What do I want to sell more of and how much am I willing to give up to have my customers purchase it?”

According to Five Stars, two factors to consider when creating a restaurant promotion are the amount of percentages and choices to give to customers. Firstly, research shows that 20% off is the best middle ground to start off with. It is enough to grab attention from customers (saving $4 off a $20 tab is a great deal!) and also allows you to still make profit from the transaction. Secondly, by increasing the choices of items, you are more likely to hit the nail on its head when it comes to promoting something your customers will enjoy.

After experimenting with a couple of different promotions at, Yeganeh Bakery and Cafe, we found some campaigns were more successful than others. Our promotion for “20% off all espresso drinks” brought in more customers than “30% off a vanilla latte.” Although a single item promotion allows you to have more control over your bottom line, it is not as enticing to customers. Once we switched from promoting a single item to promoting a menu category, the redemption rate raised to 30%.

Promoting with Your Customers in Mind>

Another important factor in creating an effective promotion is relevancy. When businesses design their promotions with their customers in mind, it increases the effectiveness of the deals. The more relevant a promotion is to your customers, the more retention you will have in your subscriber and contact lists. Think about the who, what, when, where, and why of your promotion and how that relates to your restaurant.

  • Who are your customers?
  • What do they like to purchase at your restaurant?
  • When do you want to increase sales at your restaurant? Any particular time of day?
  • Where are your customers coming from?
  • Why do your customers enjoy coming to your restaurant?

The optimal promotion item(s) will vary from business to business and greatly depends on your customers’ preferences. For example, at Yeganeh Bakery and Cafe, my customers come to enjoy typical cafe fare such as tea, coffee, and pastries. Thus, a promotion for wine and beer will be less successful than a promotion for espresso drinks. When choosing your promotional items, consider why your customers enjoy coming to your restaurant.

Give Your Customers 1 Week Heads Up About Your Promotion

Once you have your promotion, it’s time to think about how to distribute it. In the age of digital marketing, there are many different ways to get the word out, such as social media, email, and restaurant advertising platforms like Yelp and TasteM8. The optimal time and ways you tell your customers about your promotion will vary depending on any external events outside of your business. Typically, you want to give your customers at least 1 week ahead to be aware of and consider your promotional event.

Reel in Those Customers!

Overall, finding the best promotions that will increase sales and bring in more customers is just a matter of experimenting. While some restaurant owners find success with a 20% discount, others may experience more success with a 25% or a 15% discount. Also, there are no one-size fits all way of choosing what to promote and when. Use your experience and creativity to reel in those sales!

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