7 Creative Holiday Restaurant Marketing Ideas + Design Tips

The holiday season is always good news for the hospitality sector. There’s an influx of tourists, and locals looking to celebrate and countless family reunions. All of this translates into a happy sales season. Especially since gathering around a delicious meal is always top of mind.

The number of people dining out starts climbing up from mid-October itself as festive mood grips the world with preparations for Halloween. And then when the clock strikes midnight we’re into overdrive for Thanksgiving (in the U.S.) and Christmas. 

While last year’s celebrations were subdued because of the COVID-19 pandemic, 2021 is getting our hopes up, as people get comfortable with public gatherings again.

It’s time to “Carpe Diem”, all day every day for the restaurant industry. We all know that the past year and a half have been extremely hard on restaurants. And that means marketing your business in the holiday season becomes even more vital. The right marketing efforts can set your brand on the path to recovery faster than you imagined.

Yes, the holiday season is especially important for the restaurant industry. 

That’s why in this blog, we’ve pulled together all the details you need on holiday restaurant marketing. This includes its importance, best practices, and the best marketing ideas ready for you. This guide by Kimp has it all. 

The Holiday Effect on the Restaurant Industry 

The holiday season is about three things essentially: shopping, get-togethers, and time with loved ones. If there is one business that brings all 3 together it is the restaurant industry. 

And your brand has the opportunity to be part of almost every holiday-related celebration if you position yourself well.

You might still be thinking given how the year has gone, is the holiday season going to be that big this year?

Well, reports from all around the world suggest that people are looking for a breather from the pandemic blues this holiday season. In-person dining-themed events and family gatherings could be on track for a huge comeback. 

A report from Deloitte mentions that there is an expectation of increased spending on restaurants and travel this holiday season. They forecast the pent-up demand will explode with increased vaccination rates and restrictions being relaxed or removed. 

One visible trend this year is going to be the emphasis on health and local establishments. A report from Google on traveler sentiment tells us that most people traveling this holiday season are looking to stay local, within the country itself. 

So, for an increased reception of your marketing efforts in your target audience, concentrate on your local audience. 

But this is not the only #KimpTip we have for you. 

Keep reading to understand how you can enhance your restaurant’s holiday marketing campaigns.

Holiday Restaurant Marketing: A quick overview 

So, getting down to business, what do you need to know about marketing your restaurant this holiday season? How can you ensure that you hit the mark every time? 

Primarily, holiday marketing in restaurants must employ a healthy mix of both digital and offline initiatives. And the next thing you must understand is that placement matters a lot here, even more than real estate. 

This industry is extremely competitive, so you must strive to be everywhere and effectively be top of mind for your customers and potential customers.

Source: Upserve

Some popular channels for holiday restaurant marketing include Billboards, Print Ads, Storefront Designs, Social Media Marketing, Digital Advertising, and third-party apps (for booking and reviews). 

Kimp Tip: If you are wondering how to create content for so many channels without overshooting your budget, the Kimp Graphics and the Kimp Video team are here for you. With unlimited design you can make requests for as many different types of designs, or resizing and repurposing of a single design, as you need.

The current restaurant marketing trends show us that online searches on social media apps for restaurants use the local “near me” searches. Customers also actively research the ambiance, food quality, service, and USP of restaurants before choosing one to dine at.

This scrutiny will only increase in the holiday season. As we discussed, customers are stepping out after a long and tiring stretch. While many will want to go to familiar restaurants, many more will be looking to explore new options. This gives restaurants the added responsibility of retaining their clientele while also stepping up the customer acquisition game. 

You can also expect an increase in requests for home catering, takeaway kits, and curbside pickup during this busy season. Targeting these concepts in your holiday restaurant marketing can help you strike the right chord with your target audience. 

7 Creative Holiday Restaurant Marketing Ideas + Design Tips

The restaurant business is often very personal. Whether it is a small business or a big corporate chain, customers and staff also have close relationships. It’s because food is special for many. Your marketing strategies this holiday season must tap into this sentiment if you want customers to want to walk through your doors. 

And what better way to do that than by designing the right marketing campaign, aided by the tips from the Kimp team. 

So, with no further ado, let’s dive into some actionable holiday restaurant marketing ideas with design tips for your brand:

1) Set the mood 

Ambiance and vibes are more than just buzzwords in the restaurant business. They can be the difference between customers choosing or not choosing you for their dining experience. The holiday season calls for an added effort to set the right mood. Most people are looking for an experience that matches the holiday theme rather than a simple night of eating.

So how can you do that? 

Well, holiday themes are extremely visual, so the best way to set the mood is to revamp your entire visual branding to suit the holiday season.

  • You can start by installing new storefront designs and signages to signify the onset of the holiday season. For these signs, including the traditional colors and imagery, can help you connect with the audience instantly. So think mistletoe, Christmas decor, images of gifts, and so on. The same designs work for even amping up your restaurant’s decor.
  • The local search for restaurants on Google is increasing. And most customers who look you up on Google or social media will eventually land up at your website. So, consider updating the banner image, homepage designs, and the online menu as per the holiday theme. 
  • You can also work on holiday-ifying your branding elements and social media profiles. This includes logo, font styles in the name, Facebook cover image, Twitter cover image, and Instagram profile picture to name a few.

Kimp Tip: When you give your restaurant’s brand a holiday upgrade, ensure that the resultant design is consistent on all platforms. The designs must also be socially relevant to your locality to connect with your audience. If you need very specific images, think of custom illustrations or doing a quick photo shoot.  

Above is a more lavish example of adding a holiday touch to your branding. McDonald’s used their logo in their Christmas themed decor. And to make it really appear to be in the holiday spirit they gave it a bit of sparkle and shine.

2) Local listing and third-party apps 

If there is a digital address for most restaurant brands other than their own website or social media handles, it has to be the listing websites. Yelp, especially, is like a second home. Customers regularly check these sites not just for reviews but to know more about your offerings too.

You must also strive to maintain an updated profile on these platforms to connect with the right target audience. Some ways to achieve that are to:

  • Update your Google listing images with your latest designs, holiday themed menus, and images of restaurant decor. 
  • Revamp your Yelp portfolio with the new social media holiday-themed images. 
  • Advertise your latest offers and services on third-party apps. You can upload your social media posts here or design something specific to this audience. 
Source: Issuu

Above is an example of offers and promotional design that can go on Yelp and Google listings from KFC. Note how this concept can also be repurposed to make for the perfect poster for local marketing.

3) Print ads 

We mentioned how restaurant marketing in the holiday season needs a hybrid approach. And the customer sentiment on local businesses, especially in this sector, is quite favorable. If you want to reach out to this local customer base and make your services appealing to them, you need print ads. 

Print ads have the advantage of appealing to a wider audience who may or may not be aware of your brand itself. So what are some print ad formats you can try for your holiday restaurant marketing campaign?

  • Newspaper ads are one of the oldest and most effective of all print ads. Scouring the daily paper for the latest coupons, offers, and local business is a tradition in many homes. This is especially effective if you want to reach out to an older audience.
  • Print ads also include flyers, posters, and small pamphlets. You can distribute them in a locality that applies to your brand. Or you can tie up with relevant institutions such as supermarkets, movie theatres, and other entertainment venues to maximize distribution.

Kimp Tip: Print ads can be tricky because of the unique constraints and styling requirements they come with. You can’t just use the same files from your digital campaigns. The colors for one thing will not print out the same as they look in a digital design. Designs that are looked at on a screen vs. those seen on paper involve a lot of different considerations. 

Designing print-friendly designs takes experience and expertise. Book a call with the Kimp Graphics team to learn more about how you can work with Kimp to get professional, print-ready designs for a flat fee.  

Source: Kimp
4) Billboards

Continuing the local marketing thread, we truly recommend leveraging the power of billboards for your restaurant marketing campaigns in the holiday. As long as you stay in sight, you are in the game. And what better way to stay in sight than towering over every other building?

Billboard marketing is showing great promise in terms of brand awareness, conversion, and brand recall in recent times. During the holiday season, when the internet is overflowing with content, billboards can be a very profitable change of pace. 

And there are so many options in billboard designs today. You can choose static image billboards, digital billboards, or interactive billboards.

Most brands use billboards in the holiday season to: 

  • Promote a new menu with mouth-watering images of your holiday specials. 
  • Launch a holiday campaign for loyalty rewards, discounts, or party offers. 
  • Promote takeaway, dine-in, and/or catering services so that customers know what a restaurant has to offer.

Kimp Tip: In some cases more people might see a billboard than a targeted Google ad – especially when it’s a local audience you’re targeting. So the pressure on getting the billboard design right is immense. Your brand’s visual identity, the quality of the photographs, the quality of the graphic design, and the attention to detail have to be perfect. 

5) Promote takeaway and catering 

While people are looking to step out and enjoy the holidays, the demand for takeaway and catering solutions is still going to be high. And as a brand looking to turn the holiday season into an enormous success, try to focus on these areas too.

If you are looking to promote your takeaway and catering options, consider investing in the door-to-door distribution of your new menus. When the day comes, and no one knows what to do, this menu will trigger a memory of your brand to make an order reach you. 

A large part of your success in this campaign will depend on the design too. Especially for the menu. The holiday season brings a sense of whimsy with it. So make sure that’s integrated into your designs too.

Kimp Tip: No two holidays in this holiday season are the same. Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s differ completely from each other. Customers’ expectations from your brand for these events will also be different. Hence, it bodes well if you update the menu and pamphlets for every occasion so that you stay on target throughout the season. 

This doesn’t necessarily mean a full redesign. You can have a template that you just have updated with a few seasonal elements as required.

6) Email marketing 

Moving from offline marketing to the Internet, let’s check out email marketing. The holiday season in the restaurant business is quite stressful. The uncertainty from the pandemic effect can make it even more stressful. So one of the best things you can do is go after an audience that is likely to visit you again. We’re talking about connecting with your existing customer database. 

Customers like being remembered and are more likely to patronize your establishment if you reach them via email marketing. Newsletters have higher credibility than any other digital marketing channel, as it is purely opt-in.

In terms of holiday restaurant marketing campaigns, email marketing is also very versatile. You can use this medium to:

  • Share discount vouchers, gift cards, coupons, and loyalty benefits to your customer base. 
  • Promote your new menu, holiday-themed events, and best-selling dishes to engage your clientele.
  • Share images of your recent event and social mentions as social proof of how good your restaurant is.

Kimp Tip: Newsletters are a highly reliable marketing channel. But, you cannot get complacent. You can improve your email click-through rates and open rates by improving the design, subject line, and personalization strategies. Check Kimp Graphics’ guide on newsletter designs for some inspiration. 

Source: Really Good Emails
7) Social media marketing

Social media channels are slowly turning into search engines and review sites. The buzz about your brand on them, and your content, holds the ability to skyrocket your brand’s popularity and revenue during the holiday season.

So what makes for a good social media strategy this holiday season?

  • Update your profile to your latest holiday-themed design assets. 
  • Post consistently and create engagement on your profiles across channels. 
  • Establish an omnichannel presence to avoid missing out on any target audience group. 

What to post? Well, the options are endless, but we have mentioned some here for inspiration: 

  • Informational posts on the safety measures in place for in-person dining, takeaway packaging, and catering orders. 
  • Promotional content surrounding your food, decor, and your holiday offers. 
  • Engaging contests for discounts. 
  • Giveaway contests to improve the reach. 
  • Videos covering live events, parties, customer reviews, a walk-through of the restaurant, BTS of the kitchen activities, and so on.

The interactive Christmas offer video above by Applebee’s serves up some great inspiration for holiday-themed social media content. 

Spice up your Holiday Restaurant marketing with Kimp

Holiday restaurant marketing is not a sprint, it is a marathon. You have to show up consistently, with the best designs and branding campaigns every day, if you want to beat out the competition.

In all of your marketing design is a significant factor, as it holds the power to create deep connections and evoke the right emotions in your target audience. 

The Kimp Graphics and Kimp Video teams can help you create engaging marketing designs for your campaigns this holiday season. Our subscriptions bring you unlimited design requests, unlimited revisions, and a wide variety of design categories at a flat monthly fee. 

Sign up for the free trial now and start creating today for the holiday season.