It’s always exciting to add new items to your menu. New menu items can help reinvigorate your restaurant, simultaneously enticing new customers to your establishment and giving longtime customers something new to try.
But once you’ve decided to add new items to your menu, how do you spread the word? Here are some easy ideas for promoting new menu items so that they will get the attention that they deserve.
Make sure your staff is fully educated. This is one of the most vital steps to promoting new menu items. Make sure that your staff is fully educated on what the new items are, how they are made, and what makes them special. After all, your staff–particularly the servers–are the ones who will be doing the most “selling” of these new items.
Make sure that your employees have sampled the new items and can offer a detailed description of the flavor and ingredients to customers. An educated and well trained staff is better prepared to sell new items on your menu!
Offer samples. One of the easiest ways to get people interested in a new offering? Give customers free samples. For example, maybe you decide to offer the new artichoke croquettes you’re offering as an appetizer as a freebie during happy hour. Customers who like the item might be more likely to order it again on their next visit, and you might get some social media shares from the delighted customers. This can be an effective way not only to spread the word about a new menu offering, but to get people to sample it who might not have otherwise.
This also gives you the opportunity to try out items before you commit to them, if that is a concern. Customers are usually happy to give feedback on items. This is also a way to build relationships with your customers.
Promote on social media. Social media provides the perfect place to showcase your new offerings. Some restaurants use social media along every step of menu development, asking their followers for input about what they should add to their menu. This crowd sourcing can be a great way to build engagement with your community.
Other restaurants use their social media strictly to promote items which they have already decided to add to their menus. For instance, they will use a visual platform such as Instagram to post appetizing photos of the new item with an announcement about availability.
Either way, social media is a huge asset when it comes to promoting new offerings.
Print ads. If you live in a city which has well-distributed free weekly papers or a popular local newspaper, consider print ads. Print ads can be placed in publications, in the food section if there is one, and will inform customers about your new offerings.
Be creative with your ad! For instance, if you are promoting your seasonal Oktoberfest menu, be sure to use colors and a typestyle that will reflect the tone of your offering. If you’re offering a blockbuster new dessert, include a picture. Really entice customers with your ad.
Promote on your website. These days, many potential diners like to check out restaurant menus online before choosing where to spend their money. Your website not only offers a chance to share vital information with potential and existing customers, but you’ve got a great audience to check out your new offerings.
Be sure to feature the new menu items on various pages of your website; if they are only on the home page, they might be missed if a search engine took them directly to the “hours and location” page. A tab at the top of the page saying “check out our new menu items!” or something along those lines can draw in customers.
Note new items on your menu. Be sure to call out new items on your menu. If you print paper menus on a frequent basis and have the option for easy and quick re-designs, you can print the new items in a different color of ink, or spotlight them on the menu in a specific “new items” section.
If your menus are a more permanent item that can’t be reprinted on demand, you can create a custom insert featuring the new items. This will make them easy to locate and bring extra attention to them.
If you don’t use printed menus, noting the specials on a chalkboard menu or on a table flyer is another great option for calling out new items.
Offer a bundle or discount. Everyone loves a bargain, so offering your new items to customers at a discount or as part of a bundle can help garner interest for your new items.
A discount could be as straightforward as offering 25% off of all new items or offering a buy one get one (BOGO) special with the new items.
Or, you could incorporate new items into a bundle; for instance, if a customer orders an entree, they get one of your new appetizer offerings for just $2. Bundling is an attractive option which drives sales by giving customers an incentive to order more for a greater value.
Invite influencers to try the items. Create a press event where you invite local bloggers, newspaper writers, local business owners, and even the owners of popular social media accounts, to sample your new fare. People love free food, and it gives you an opportunity to share your new offerings with people who may have an influence on the community and can draw interest from followers that might not know about your establishment (yet).
Offer a discount with the check. Sometimes, it takes time for people to try something new. If a group visits and they don’t try anything new on the menu, offer a discount coupon on your new menu items, which you can deliver with the check. This not only gives them a reason to come back, but to try the new items, too.
Conclusion: Adding new items to your restaurant menu can be great way to improve business. But it’s just the first step. To make sure that your new additions have maximum impact, be sure to promote them in a variety of ways to make sure that they are getting the attention that they deserve. You’ll be rewarded with increased interest, and ideally, increased sales!
How do you promote new menu items?