There’s at least one National Food Day for every day of the year, and in many cases, there’s more than one. It can be overwhelming to keep track of them, let alone incorporate them into a marketing plan, but a little advance planning can go a long way to making food holidays and other observances work for your restaurant marketing plan.
First, pick a source and stick with it. Foodimentary is a great go-to resource on food days, and they have very conveniently broken down the calendar at-a-glance by month. From there, each day has its own blog post with pictures and interesting facts related to that day.
Start with the obvious days for your brand. If you’re known for barbecue, maybe National Baby Back Ribs Day (September 3) would be a good opportunity to share your story with a new audience. Check the calendar month by month, and then search the web for specific days that you brainstorm that would be a good fit. Chances are, if you can dream it, it’s already a National Food Day.
Once you’ve gone through menu-specific days, look at other occasions, such as National Women’s Day, Earth Day, Pi Day, or even National Talk Like a Pirate Day as opportunities to drive traffic to your business or get PR for your brand.
Discount and Promote
Once you’ve identified the days, it’s time to determine how you will use them. For a day that’s only tangentially related to your concept, maybe the extent of your marketing effort is using that hashtag on your Instagram to participate in the collective conversation, establish relevance, and pick up some new followers.
If there’s a day that aligns beautifully with your brand, put thought into the build-up to that day so that your guests are aware of it in advance and can plan to celebrate with you. One way to do that is with a simple discount & promote campaign. Maybe it’s National Oyster on the Half Shell Day. Create appealing specials on raw, roasted, and fried oysters, plus a drink special and then spread the word via social media, e-newsletters, signage, guest check messages, and in your interactions with customers. Be sure to share the story during and after the day as well to help plant the seed for next year (and for future visits in general).
Another approach for days that align particularly well with your brand is to create an event at your restaurant with special discounts that may change hour-by-hour or at different times of day, say lunch vs. dinner. Make the day special with community partners and engaging activities that people enjoy.
Let’s use the National Oyster of the Half Shell Day example one more time: You could have an oyster-shucking demo at Happy Hour or an oyster tasting that discusses the merroir and flavor profile of each selection, perhaps paired with wine. You could invite conservation experts and create a give-back opportunity to show your business’ commitment to clean water. That takes an ordinary food day and turns it into a memorable PR-able moment.
Make sure to spread the word by creating a Facebook event page, sending invites to your network, and sharing a press release.
As you identify these opportunities for your brand, keep two things in mind: First, your budget. If you can use some marketing spend to spread the word about a particular event or an in-restaurant promotion, that might be a good time to allocate some funds, but don’t go overboard. This shouldn’t take much from your overall marketing budget. Second, keep in mind the goal of keeping a balanced calendar. If you take on too many food holidays, you’ll lose the interest of your audience. I would recommend sticking with about 8-12 days throughout the year, max.