The month of September signals a lot of changes across the country. School is officially back in session for teachers and students alike, the weather (hopefully) grows colder with the first day of autumn and stores and/or houses began strategizing their Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas decorations. And of course, rivalries heat up as both college and professional football teams kick off their respective seasons.
Unless your restaurant or establishment promotes a fine dining atmosphere, you most likely dedicate a portion of your space and menu to the sports fans in your customer base.
College, minor league and major league sports represent a massive earning opportunity for your business during most, if not all, months of the year. Today we are going to address several ways you can use sports to boost your restaurant marketing
1. All-night or all-day Happy Hour specials on game days/nights: We’re going to go ahead and claim that this is an EASY win for your restaurant. If your restaurant or brewery already offer an established Happy Hour, extending your specials by a few hours will be greatly appreciated by both your regulars and new customers. If you want to focus on one sport this fall, football would be your best bet (though you may want to consider MLB Playoffs and World Series specials starting in October). For football, NFL games are played and televised on Monday and Thursday nights as well as most of the day on Sunday. College football games are often scheduled for all day/evening on Saturday. Extending the Happy Hour during these games will also encourage customers to eventually buy larger meals like lunch or dinner after they have taken in a few rounds of beers and appetizers.
2. Jersey specials – If you do not want to offer specials to everyone who comes through the door before and after game night Happy Hours, you can establish a rule for customers to take advantage of the deals. One idea is giving specials for any customer wearing a team jersey (you could even give a bonus discount if the team is local). The jerseys also help build community among the customers, and everyone walks out a winner.
3. Sports-themed food and drinks – You may already serve appetizers and meals that go great with sports watching (i.e. wings, fries, burgers, pizza, etc.). However, you can also create specific menu items for a particular sport or team that immediately whets your customers’ appetites.
3. Discount tickets, day of game offers and winning incentives – Depending on the relationship of your restaurant with the local sports teams, you can really expand the reach of your business. You can be the sponsored seller of local community college, high school or middle school game tickets and offer them at a discount when customers buy them at your establishment. Another way to win with your local sports teams is to allow customers to bring in their ticket for that day’s home game to redeem a percentage off their order. Finally you can set up a dinner or late night offer for anytime a particular hometown team wins a game.
4. Local sports radio/TV events and watch parties – Use your connections with the local media to really go out on your restaurant marketing. Even though these stations and programs can advertise your restaurant for a fee, organizing events with them to bring in customers is even better. Plan at least one event a month during the regular season for each of the major sports. You can offer food and drink specials, raffles, autograph and meet-and-greet sessions with former players, family activities and more. The sky truly is the limit.
5. Delivery, takeout or catering specials – Your restaurant may serve delicious food that appeals to sports fans, but you may not have the space to host every jersey-clad customer in your town. Instead, you can focus on delivery, catering and takeout orders to boost your sales. Establish a loyalty or discount program specifically for sports seasons that will encourage people to place orders during those times. You can also create game-friendly “tailgate specials” to help pique interest.