5 of the Best Restaurant Marketing Promotions for Back to School

August 11, 2015 | blog | By Mike Sullivan


The kids are heading back to school and here are 5 of the best promotions we know to drive restaurant sales and target a variety of your market segments.

1 – Include the Whole Family

Take it away – Offer take-away family-style meals specials the month school starts and promote the time-saving convenience.

Apps for backpacks – When the family dines in, offer a discount or a free appetizer for families who bring in their receipts for school supplies or school uniforms. Even if the discount is small or you offer your least-expensive appetizer, the gesture will be appreciated by parents whose wallets have been hit hard by back-to-school shopping.

Hit the mall – A great technique is to host a live demonstration with one of your professional chefs showing and sharing cooking tips with the crowd. Do this during the back-to-school shopping rush at your local mall and offer shoppers free samples, as well as coupons or flyers listing upcoming promotions.

2 – Spotlight on the Kids

Student super stars – When we think of back to school, grade-schoolers with backpacks, gangly arms and legs, and unruly hair is the usual image that comes to mind. For these kids, the start of every school year is a milestone, and it really should be for every student, every year.

A great, positive restaurant marketing promotion is to invite your customers to “start the year off right” with a celebratory dinner at your restaurant. Consider setting up an area for student “super star” photos (parents can snap shots with their phones or wait staff can help to take group shots).

3 – Don’t Overlook College Students

Coupon-hungry at college – Team up with the area universities and technical colleges in your area and set-up a booth during orientation or ask to include a flyer, coupon or menu in the school’s new student packet. Consider buying an ad in the school’s paper or on its website. Back-to-school restaurant marketing promotions often ignore college students, but this market segment is most likely to take advantage of coupons and discounts.

Student lunch special – Another way to attract the collegiate crowd is to create a student lunch special. This is especially effective if your restaurant is near a college campus. Try to put together a few lunch combos at a special price and market the specials to students on your website, via flyers, or on Facebook.

Now hiring – Use signage to promote your restaurant at colleges and universities near you and invite students to apply for jobs. Promote student lunch discounts. You’ll attract new customers – and they may become regulars if they’re new to town – and you may even gain new employees.

4 – Show the Teachers Some Love

TLC for teachers – Why not show your community’s teachers your appreciation during the entire month of September? They’ll probably need a little tender loving care by then. Create a special promotion or coupon that can be redeemed by teachers only (ask to see their school ID badge).

App for the teacher – Instead of bringing an apple to the teacher, how about a free appetizer? The restaurant marketing idea is great to launch the first week of school.

5 – Parents

Parent’s day out – Create a lunch special for parents to enjoy a little quiet time once the kids are back in school.

BOGO parents meals – Offer buy-one-get-one (BOGO) lunch specials for parents to enjoy a lunch or dinner out together without the kids. Team up with local businesses like spas to offer BOGO coupons for services like massages, facials or manicures.

Remember to use social media for all the restaurant marketing promotions and take advantage of any local school advertising (yearbooks, school papers, websites, etc.).

For other great restaurant marketing ideas, download our white paper.

The Restaurant Experience


Mike Sullivan

President at LOOMIS, the country’s leading challenger brand advertising agency


We challenge underdog brands to think differently. We help them find their voice, and urge them to blaze new trails to make sure they stand out from the pack. Whether you need an agency of record or support on a project, we are here to help you win.