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7 Restaurant Contest Ideas To Turn Your Guests Into Fans



7 Restaurant Contest Ideas To Turn Your Guests Into Fans

Every restaurant desires a loyal customer base that visits regularly. Such customers ensure a steady inflow of cash and contribute to the word of mouth publicity. But how do you create a customer base like that? Serving good food and delivering great customer service is one way to do it. Another rewarding way is to host innovative restaurant and food contests.

Benefits of hosting restaurant contests:

What brought forward the trend of having contests at restaurants? Well, there are several reasons contests as well as competitions are favored by restaurant owners. Some of those are:

  1. Attract new customers
  2. Give your regular customers a reason to come back
  3. Boost brand awareness
  4. Increase footfall on off days
  5. Create excitement about visiting your restaurant
  6. Increased sales

Top restaurant contest ideas:

Now that you’re aware of what you gain by running restaurant competitions, let’s look at some innovative ideas that you can use. We have spoken to some of the most popular restaurant and bar owners in Bangalore and gathered X food contest ideas to help you delight your customers and fill restaurant seats:

This is the most simple and easiest contest that doesn’t need much action from your audience. All you need to do is create a poster and upload it on your social media channels. The next step is to send out messages through text and email to all your customers that they need to share that picture on their personal social media handles.

Make sure to specify that all the customers who do this will automatically be entered in a lucky draw contest. You can offer the contest winner a free meal for two. This ensures two things – firstly your social media engagement will blow up and everyone will interact with your profile. Secondly, you don’t have to offer anything more than a meal at your restaurant as a prize.

Make this better: By offering exceptional service to the contest winner when they visit the restaurant to claim their free meal. This will ensure they speak about it positively in their social circle. This will lead to excitement about participating in this contest and you will have more people joining in during the next round. This contest can be held once every month.

A purely Instagram-based contest, tag away or tag to win contests get new people to notice your restaurant. The contest is based on a giveaway prize. The important thing to remember while running such a giveaway on your social media handles is to keep the steps to participation very quick and easy.

A great day to do this is on a special occasion. For example, host a giveaway for your restaurant’s anniversary and ask your followers to tag three people with who they would like to share the “Anniversary special” meal in your restaurant. Get them to make their tagged friends follow your Instagram page as well.

Make it better: By not putting any limitations on the number of entries a follower can submit. This ensures multiple people get tagged by a single person. Such a contest will boost your Instagram popularity. Also, it will create intrigue in the tagged people to check out your restaurant & its offerings.

If you’re new to the social media game and don’t have many pictures on your feed, this one is the best contest to run! Not every restaurant can afford food photography. But you can leverage your customer’s photography skills and gain more content for your social media. This has the added advantage of making them excited about visiting your restaurant.

Encourage your customers and social media followers to post a picture of your restaurant – be it the food, or them dining at the restaurant, or a pretty corner they liked at the restaurant. Choose the most-liked image as the winner. This way you will get some great images to share on your social media handles. Sharing customer images is a great way of authentic advertising.

Make it better: By keeping the contest deadline at least two weeks away. This way you will see an influx of customers in that period coming in to dine and click pictures with a desire to win the contest. Keep in mind that they will only take this effort if the contest prize is exciting enough. For example, offering the winner a 50% discount on the entire bill with no maximum spending limit.

Every time I have to head to a new place for a meal, I open the Zomato app and check what the customers love about them. Is it the food? Is it their ambiance, or the overall dining experience? I like to read reviews about what dishes customers enjoy the most. But it can be challenging to build a good reserve of reviews.

To get customers to leave reviews, create a contest that encourages them to leave reviews about their experience of dining at your restaurant. You can offer them a free entry into your Loyalty Program for leaving a detailed review. Make sure you choose the right websites when asking customers to leave reviews.

Make it better: By responding promptly to each review. This shows a visiting prospective customer that you care about your customer’s opinion. Not only does it create a positive impression, but also brings to your notice important things that need your attention.  

A humorous way to engage your audience is to run a contest by sharing a quirky image and asking for a caption. This image could be anything – restaurant food photography, a picture of your staff cooking a menu item, a customer dining at your restaurant (image clicked & shared with their permission).

Since there is not much to do here apart from being funny, expect a large number of entries in this contest. Offer the best caption writer one of your menu items for free as a prize. Remember to make the contest prize as relatable as possible. If you’re asking them to caption a food image, offer them the food in the picture for free! Take the following image as an example.

Make this better: By creating a #CaptionThisPhoto series and using it as a weekly event to giveaway vouchers for dining at the restaurant. By making the vouchers redeemable only on weekdays, you can ensure you attract crowds even on slow-moving days. This will lead to an increase in footfall in the restaurant and help in boosting sales.

A great way to get your customers to be more involved in your restaurant is to get their opinion on your food. Since this contest can be run impromptu, you don’t need much prep for it. Ask your dining guests to decide how they would like a dish they’re ordering to be altered. The aim should be to make it exactly how they would like it.

Allow them to suggest changes in the ingredients and make a note of it with their contact details. Let them know that they have been entered in a contest where your chef will try creating this dish exactly as described by them. This way, you get newer recipes for your restaurant menu. Once your chef tries the described recipes, reward the customer who shared the best variation.

Make it better: By naming the new variation of your menu item after the winning customer’s name. This has the power to delight a customer and turn them into loyal customers. Imagine the word-of-mouth publicity that your restaurant gets when the winning customer shares this reward in their circle!

Two is always better than one, which is why we recommend partnering with another business for this last contest idea. Reach out to local corporate companies and ask them to offer your restaurant coupons for their in-house contests. For instance, they can offer free meal coupons to their “Employee of the Month”.

You can also create an exclusive giveaway for them to participate where the reward involves offerings from both parties. This allows you to choose any company to collaborate with, and not just a corporate company.  Take the following example of a Michelin star restaurant collaborating with a kitchen design company.

Make it better: By informing all your dining guests about this contest and keeping the steps for participation very straightforward. This contest doesn’t have to be necessarily Instagram-based as shown in the example above. But you need to promote it on your social media handles to increase its reach.


We have shared a good mix of restaurant contests and competitions that are effective in turning your guests into loyal fans. Depending on your advertising budget, you can make the rewards fancy or stick to something as simple as a $10 coupon. Don’t shy away from innovating and get creative with the contest terms. If you have any great restaurant contest ideas to share, drop them in the comments below!

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Native video tops social media in brand awareness study



Native video tops social media in brand awareness study

Native video ads have a greater impact than video ads on social and video platforms, a new study from Kantar reported. The Multichannel Brand Impact study measured video ad effectiveness for brand goals in native environments against other environments.

Favorability. Participants in the study gave a favorable rating 59% of the time when exposed to a native video ad. That number dropped to 50% on social platforms and 51% in a video platform environment.

Source: Kantar Context Lab/Taboola.

Awareness. 33% of participants displayed top-of-mind awareness about a brand when shown a native video ad. This displayed a marked improvement over the control group, which only had 14% top-of-mind awareness.

When native video was combined with social video ads, the awareness climbed to 49%.

Impact of native ads. Taboola, which sells content discovery and native advertising products, sponsored the study.

“With industry estimates indicating that video advertising in the U.S. will reach nearly $50B this year, brands have a lot of opportunities to influence customers, as long as they’re choosing the right platforms and mix of platforms to relay their messages,” said Taboola CEO and founder Adam Singolda, in a company release.

Read next: Taboola acquires Connexity

Why we care. Social media is where consumers receive word-of-mouth recommendations from family and friends. Still a potent source of brand impact for marketers. But social is also a highly contentious space for politics and other turnoffs. It’s not the ace in the hole it once was, and should be complemented with other native environments in a digital video campaign.

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About The Author

Chris Wood draws on over 15 years of reporting experience as a B2B editor and journalist. At DMN, he served as associate editor, offering original analysis on the evolving marketing tech landscape. He has interviewed leaders in tech and policy, from Canva CEO Melanie Perkins, to former Cisco CEO John Chambers, and Vivek Kundra, appointed by Barack Obama as the country’s first federal CIO. He is especially interested in how new technologies, including voice and blockchain, are disrupting the marketing world as we know it. In 2019, he moderated a panel on “innovation theater” at Fintech Inn, in Vilnius. In addition to his marketing-focused reporting in industry trades like Robotics Trends, Modern Brewery Age and AdNation News, Wood has also written for KIRKUS, and contributes fiction, criticism and poetry to several leading book blogs. He studied English at Fairfield University, and was born in Springfield, Massachusetts. He lives in New York.

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Worsening economy has more shoppers getting online info before making in-store purchases



Worsening economy has more shoppers getting online info before making in-store purchases

Summer’s here and the shoppers are wary. Consumer spending increased in May, but only by 0.2%, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. This explains why 76% of U.S. shoppers are searching online for reviews and better prices before buying in store, according to a new Adobe Commerce study of sentiment among over 1,000 U.S. consumers. Also, when they’re in a store 60% are using their phone to look for better prices elsewhere.

Another sign of the slowing economy: 24% say they won’t be able to take advantage of big summer holiday sales because they have less discretionary money to spend due to inflation and the higher cost of goods. 

Read next: Adobe: Online prices were up only 2% in May

On the good news side: 76% of those planning to participate in summer sales say they’ll spend more or the same amount as last year. And the motivation varies — more than half (56%) of consumers say they save money by shopping on Prime Day and other sales events, while others want to get ahead of their seasonal holiday (32%) and back-to-school shopping (23%).

However, most of those who intend to buy don’t believe big retailers’ promises of deeper discounts because of overstocking. Almost 65% expect discounts to be smaller than last year. 

Other findings:

  • 61% said receiving personalized promotions or recommendations will make them more likely to make a purchase.
  • 43% said they are more likely to purchase from a retailer that offers buy now, pay later.
  • 72% want the online purchases delivered the same day or via two-day shipping.
  • 50% are now more likely to make retail purchases on their phones, 26% prefer in-store shopping and 24% prefer shopping via their computer
  • 57% search for and buy products online if they can’t find them in stores.
Categories for which consumers report using buy now, purchase later.

Why we care. Inflation and higher interest rates are, as expected, taking an increased toll on consumer spending. That makes marketing more important than ever, via activities like personalization and customer experience. That should also include offering payment options like buy now, pay later. People are used to putting everything on a credit card, but interest rates are making that less attractive to them.

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About The Author

Constantine von Hoffman is managing editor of MarTech. A veteran journalist, Con has covered business, finance, marketing and tech for, Brandweek, CMO, and Inc. He has been city editor of the Boston Herald, news producer at NPR, and has written for Harvard Business Review, Boston Magazine, Sierra, and many other publications. He has also been a professional stand-up comedian, given talks at anime and gaming conventions on everything from My Neighbor Totoro to the history of dice and boardgames, and is author of the magical realist novel John Henry the Revelator. He lives in Boston with his wife, Jennifer, and either too many or too few dogs.

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Getting Started with the Agile Marketing Navigator: Building a Marketing Backlog



Freeing agile marketing from its software development roots

We recently introduced you to Agile Marketing Navigator, a flexible framework for navigating agile marketing for marketers, by marketers in the article A new way to navigate agile marketing. The navigator has four major components: Collaborative Planning Workshop, Launch Cycle, Key Practices and Roles. Within these categories, there are several sub-pieces for implementation. In recent articles, we covered the pieces in the first stop of the navigator, the Collaborative Planning Workshop.

Now we’re going to dive into the next stop on your agile marketing journey — the Launch Cycle. The Launch Cycle is a repeatable cadence for delivering valuable marketing experiences early and often. Within the Launch Cycle there are five key components — Marketing Backlog, Cycle Planning, Daily Huddle, Team Showcase and Team Improvement. If you’re familiar with the Scrum framework, there are a lot of similarities here — with a few different nuances to make it more applicable to marketers.

Building and managing an effective Marketing Backlog

Now, let’s dive into the Marketing Backlog and some tips and tricks for marketers to be most effective. 

The Marketing Backlog is an ordered list of prioritized work that the agile team will pull from to work on in their Launch Cycle. The backlog is emergent, not static, and changes as new information is learned. 

This part of the framework is incredibly important and can have a major impact on how marketers work. First of all, there’s one shared place where all work lives. This avoids work happening “behind the scenes” that no one knows about.

In fact, one client that I worked with took all of the work that was already assigned to stakeholders, put it in a single backlog and realized that it would take five years to deliver! It’s with this level of transparency that teams and leaders can begin to visualize everything the team is doing and start to really understand what’s important and what may just be someone’s pet project.

There are many tools for managing your marketing backlog and they all have their pros and cons. The main thing to watch out for is ensuring that everyone on the team, as well as stakeholders have access. We want to build a transparent system.

If you’ve started with the Collaborative Planning Workshop, you’ve already begun to build out the Marketing Backlog. The items in your Minimally Viable Launch will go near the top, and other items will fall below. Work is never guaranteed until the team starts working on it, and even then sound business reasons could cause them to pivot, although that shouldn’t be the norm.

Prioritizing the backlog is one of the key responsibilities of the Marketing Owner. While they don’t do this in a vacuum and conversations with stakeholders are imperative, this role has the ultimate authority to decide what order the team will work on and which items won’t be considered (there are always way more good ideas than time).

The role of the Marketing Owner

The Marketing Owner needs to really understand the business value that each idea brings. Each marketing backlog should be thought of in terms of:

  • Level of effort it will take the team to complete (let’s face it — all things aren’t created equal. Building a Tesla may take longer than a base model Honda, so think through marketing ideas as well).
  • What value does it bring to customers? Joy? Satisfaction? Solves a problem? Addresses a cause?
  • What will the business gain from this idea, and how does it tie to business goals, KPIs and revenue?

Stakeholders, customers and team members should all be thinking about new ideas all of the time and everyone is invited to submit ideas to the backlog. However, it’s at the Marketing Owner’s discretion to decide which ideas will be worked on by the team and when.

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Work should never be directly assigned to a team member in agile marketing. It should be submitted to the backlog or discussed with the marketing owner as it needs to be visible and prioritized among everything else.

In agile marketing, backlog items should be used to test and learn and are thought of as micro-experiments, rather than large campaign blasts. 

While a backlog item may be for a post on Facebook, the team should be thinking in terms of testing elements, such as content. If the content is successful, similar content pieces would be on the backlog. However, if the content doesn’t perform well, the team would want to think of new backlog items with different content.

agile marketing workflow

Catch up on the Agile Marketing Navigator series!

The backlog may contain some business as usual items to keep the lights on, but the majority of items should be small, testable experiments that can quickly get to customers for real-time feedback.

If you haven’t started a marketing backlog yet, what are you waiting for?

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.

About The Author

Stacey knows what it’s like to be a marketer, after all, she’s one of the few agile coaches and trainers that got her start there. After graduating from journalism school, she worked as a content writer, strategist, director and adjunct marketing professor. She became passionate about agile as a better way to work in 2012 when she experimented with it for an ad agency client. Since then she has been a scrum master, agile coach and has helped with numerous agile transformations with teams across the globe. Stacey speaks at several agile conferences, has more certs to her name than she can remember and loves to practice agile at home with her family. As a lifelong Minnesotan, she recently relocated to North Carolina where she’s busy learning how to cook grits and say “y’all.”

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