7 Restaurant Marketing Ideas to Increase Thanksgiving Sales

Last updated: April 27, 2020 | By Jessica Leone

Thanksgiving dinner used to be synonymous with the whole family sitting down to the ultimate homemade meal. While this is still the case for many Americans, times are changing and if your restaurant isn’t changing with them, it may get left behind.

1 in 10 adults plan to eat their Thanksgiving meal at a restaurant this year, making it the second biggest day of the year for restaurants, just behind Mother’s Day. This number is up from 6% of adults in 2011. Of those who are still eating in on Thanksgiving, 9% plan on having parts of their meal catered and 4% plan on having their entire meal catered.

It’s not only Thanksgiving that presents a lucrative opportunity for restaurants. 72% of Americans who plan to shop during Thanksgiving weekend also plan to eat at a full-service or quick-service restaurant while they’re out.

As a restaurant owner, now is the time to start preparing your advertising strategy to entice both new and repeat diners during the holiday weekend. Here are seven restaurant marketing ideas to help you do just that.

1. Use an Omnichannel Approach

One of the best ways to attract customers during Thanksgiving weekend is to run a promotion. But what’s the best way to get the word out? You’ll want to take an omnichannel approach when advertising your specials. That means reaching your audience through multiple channels, like email, social media and print.

Plan your holiday events at least one month in advance. This way, you’ll be able to organize and promote effectively across different mediums. Consider handing out flyers to current customers, hanging signage throughout your restaurant, engaging with followers on social media and sending out emails to your mailing list. Each customer has their own preference as to how they communicate with businesses, so you want to cover all the bases.

2. Get Creative with Your Fare

It’s common for people to be “turkey-ed out” after their Thanksgiving meals and to want a culinary change of pace during the weekend to follow. To differentiate your establishment, think outside the box by offering meals not normally associated with Thanksgiving. Depending on your clientele, you could decide to go with vegetarian or vegan fare. Other options to consider are non-American cuisine like Asian, Indian, Thai, Mexican or Italian.

3. Offer Catering

Catering gives you an opportunity to increase sales without customers having to sit down to eat at your restaurant. Plus, after all the effort that goes into preparing Thanksgiving dinner, people are happy to take a break from cooking for the weekend while still wanting to enjoy great food with loved ones. Try offering special Thanksgiving weekend catering packages geared toward customers in need of a break from their own kitchens.

4. Attract Customers with Events

Specials events are one of the best ways to influence a patron’s decision about where they want to dine at that time. This can take a variety of forms, from a celebratory party atmosphere to special live music and entertainment. For example, you might host a “Friendsgiving” event to provide guests with an opportunity to celebrate the holiday with friends. Again, you can offer a traditional menu or create a specialized menu. Ask your guests to share photos of their dinners using a special event hashtag to drive engagement for your social media channels.

5. Get the Community Involved

Get into the holiday spirit by partnering with a local charity. Run a canned food drive the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, offering your customers a free drink or appetizer with their donation. Or donate a percentage of profits from a certain menu item to a local organization. Your customers are feeling more charitable during the holidays and will appreciate your community involvement. They may even make it a point to dine at your restaurant specifically to join the cause. Be sure to highlight your involvement through social media, email and signage around your restaurant.

6. Take Reservations

Once you start promoting your holiday specials and events, taking reservations can help assess your target audience’s level of interest. Even if your restaurant doesn’t normally take reservations, it’s a wise thing to do for Thanksgiving weekend. Not only will it help things run smoother, it will create a sense of urgency for people to sign up. Knowing space is limited will often get people to make reservations sooner.

7. Highlight Convenience

Thanksgiving is a hectic time of year, that’s why it’s a great opportunity for your restaurant to be a place where guests can relax and de-stress, while still creating new memories. Tout these conveniences to your customers through your holiday advertising. Diners that know they can get a great dining experience with little hassle on Thanksgiving weekend will be more likely to stop by.

Get Started Today

Planning your Thanksgiving marketing now will ensure your restaurant gets a piece of all that pie this holiday season. Here are some key steps to begin:

  • Brainstorm the menu. Outside of traditional fare, start thinking about out-of-the-box ideas for Thanksgiving weekend. This leaves you with more than enough time to flesh out your menu and experiment in the kitchen.
  • Come up with specials. Start thinking about holiday-themed promotions, specials or events you can offer. Once you have these locked down, think about which channels you want to use for advertising.
  • Plan to take reservations. If your restaurant doesn’t normally take reservations, think about what you’ll need to implement them that weekend and don’t forget to give regular patrons advanced notice.