Limited-Time Offers (LTOs) are promotions that encourage consumers to spend within a very specific and small window of time. Why are they so effective? Because they create a sense of urgency — an extremely powerful motivator for potential customers (FOMO, anyone?).

There are endless opportunities throughout the year to incorporate LTOs into your marketing strategy, but no time is easier than the holiday season — the timeline is set for you, and festive feelings are already in abundance. People are in the spirit of giving, ready to indulge, and plan to spend money. Your job is to make sure they come straight to you! The following tips will allow you to squeeze the most profits out of your LTOs this holiday season.

Work with What You've Got

There's no need for a slew of new and exotic ingredients to rehash your entire menu for special holiday plates. Maximize the cost-effectiveness of your specials by taking stock of what you already have in the kitchen to spin it seasonally. Have sweet potatoes for your fries? Turn them into a spongy sweet potato cake layered with marshmallow cream cheese frosting. A limited-time dessert like this will have folks waiting for winter just to come by for a slice year after year.

Go Ahead, Mess with a Good Thing

Do you have a signature item on your menu that your business is already known for? Play off the success of your most profitable and popular menu items by creating a limited, seasonal version that customers can't help but try. Do guests go gaga for your poutine? Buck tradition for the holidays by topping those crispy fries with meatballs, tangy goat cheese, and a cranberry drizzle. Seasonal dishes can be easily bumped up in price without anyone batting an eye, and by offering them for a limited time, diners will order now before they no longer can.

Turn Lead into Gold

promotions are a perfect time to push items that haven't budged and make space for new quarter offerings. Maybe you gambled on a red wine from your favorite distributor that just never went over with your clientele. Maybe you tried that trendy pecan whiskey that's been sitting on the back bar since last January. Don't count your losses just yet.

Mix in some mulling spices and orange with the rest of that wine. Warm it up and serve in a cozy mug with a cinnamon stick at a delicious markup. Combine the flavored whiskey with an old standby and stir in some maple syrup for a winter Old Fashioned that will warm the soul. By utilizing the not-so-hot bottles in your holiday promotions, you're likely to make a profit instead of taking a loss.

Win During the Week

Maximize the effectiveness of your LTOs by implementing them on days you need an extra boost in sales. Don't run your best Holiday Happy Hour on a Friday evening — folks will already be there without your help. Instead, think of how you can get your barstools filled on a Tuesday. Run a happy hour from 4 to 8 where drinkers get entered into a raffle with every purchase of your special (ahem — like that pecan whiskey Old Fashioned you're trying to push!). How can you get customers in for lunch on a Monday? Offer 10% off every gift card sold from 11 to 2 with a meal purchase. Peruse your metrics for the slower times and work on boosting those for big-time profits.

Promote, Promote, Promote!

Of course, all of the creative efforts your put into your LTOs can go to waste without tenacious promotion, and yes, social media remains ever important. Make sure your landing pages reflect a seasonal theme and refresh those social ads with your holiday LTOs. Share delectable photos of your dishes and drinks and run specials that encourage following, sharing, and tagging.

There's still tons of merit, however, in old school, tried-and-true tactics. Train your servers during pre-shift on how to talk with their tables about your promotions. Print beautiful cards that list your specials and tuck in every check presenter given out. And remember, word of mouth always wins, so by making sure your LTOs are top-notch, you can guarantee people will be piling in to see what you've got up your sleeve in the months to come.

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