Halloween offers ample opportunities for restaurants to kick off holiday promotions, but it’s also a great chance for Challenger Brands to carve out a niche during this unique holiday.
Halloween is not just for the kids. Adults who love it REALLY love it, so tapping into this market segment could be a bonanza for any Challenger Brand with the right approach. Tap into these great ideas for Halloween restaurant promotions aimed at grown-ups.
1 – Costume Contest – For the past few years, Chipotle has been hosting “Boorito” and offering customers who arrive in costume on Oct. 31 a deep discount on select menu items. Last year, the company earmarked proceeds from the event toward its own Chipotle Cultivate Foundation. Donating holiday proceeds to a cause your restaurant supports is a great way to show your community involvement and as a Challenger Brand, that’s another way you can build your lighthouse identity that projects a clear sense of who you are and what you stand for.
2 – Date Night and a Fright – Partner up with the ghost tours, haunted houses, corn mazes or any other Halloween-themed tour designed to scare the jeepers out of someone and work out a coupon trade. Anyone who visits the event receives your coupon and you distribute the coupons for scare-inducing tour at your restaurant. An alternative is to purchase the haunted house tickets at a bulk discount and offer two “free” tickets to anyone who purchases a specific meal combo priced to cover ticket costs.
3 – No Tricks, Just Treats (Kids Eat Free) – For parents hoping for a respite from Trick or Treating and a break from cooking at home, create an eat-in Halloween restaurant promotion for the family that comps the kids only on Oct. 31. Looking for an easy way to convert your existing dessert menu items, like cupcakes, into Halloween treats? Add some gummy worms for creepy-crawly fun the kids will love.
4 – Festive Beverages – If you serve adult beverages, add some holiday-themed recipes to the menu. From Witches’ Brew to Zombie Brain Shots to Pina Ghoul-adas, these eye-pleasing drinks made with premium liquors can fetch top dollar and on All Hallow’s Eve, who’s going to say no to Dracula’s Kiss? The American Bartenders School has frightfully delicious-looking recipes online. You can also create virgin versions of these holiday cocktails or try out one that might appeal to adults and kids – a candy corn shake, a layered orange and vanilla milk shake with whipped topping.
5 – Social Media and Holiday Prep – Targeted social media pushes through platforms like Google or Facebook can really pay off for Halloween restaurant promotions. Remember to include the “foodie friendly” Pinterest and Yelp in your social media budget, too. You can go the DIY route, too, by using in-house signage to promote your Facebook page and invite your patrons to post their Halloween photos there or if you’re really ready to embrace the more frightening aspects of the holiday, ask for video submissions on Facebook or YouTube. Here’s where you can step outside the box from your Established Brand competitors. Is it a little scary to ask customers for Halloween videos? Sure it is (of course, you’ll want to screen these frequently and censor anything that violates your Social Media Policy). But as a Brand Challenger, you can and should occasionally take risks to raise awareness about your brand.
Can you start pushing winter holiday promotions too soon? The answer is yes if you start in July, but Halloween is a great kickoff to the traditional holiday season. Make the most of 2015. Put up signage, table tents, etc. to promote any Thanksgiving prix fixe menus or take-home specials you’re planning. Also, many people start their holiday shopping early. Plant the idea of gift cards/certificates to your restaurant now.
Need more? Download our whitepaper for great tips on how you can scare the pants on the Established Brands! Happy Halloween!