Thanksgiving Marketing Cheat Sheet for Restaurants 2021

On Thanksgiving Day 2021, take advantage of some creative Thanksgiving restaurant promotions to make your restaurant stand out. Certainly, the last week of November is quite a busy one. The holiday season peaks on Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Small Business Saturday, all occurring within a three-day period.

Picture this: a delicious meal with the family, featuring turkey, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie. Does that need to happen at home? Not necessarily! According to a study by the National Restaurant Association, one out of ten adults plan to eat out at the restaurants on Thanksgiving. A majority of respondents said they would pick up some of their meal (9%) or all of the meal (4%) from a restaurant.

Thanksgiving is a holiday that many Americans enjoy at home. Others, meanwhile, will probably search for places that serve Thanksgiving dinner. Maybe they'd like to find out where they can enjoy their favorite Thanksgiving food this year or where they can order from. It's a great opportunity to make sure your restaurant becomes their new favorite spot!

Below is the cheat sheet you can use to get some marketing ideas for your restaurant:

Focus on the Menu - Most people who go out on Thanksgiving are looking for traditional Thanksgiving food such as Turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin cheesecake. You should ensure the menu is such that it makes people relate to the flavors and makes them nostalgic. You should come up with an exclusive menu for Thanksgiving and advertise it on social media and on window displays to let potential customers know what is on offer.

For a festive Thanksgiving, dinner or lunch isn't the only option. How about a themed brunch that would feel very festive? To stand out from the crowd, create unique Thanksgiving Day specials to delight even the pickiest of customers.

Salt & Straw, Portland, Ore.-based popular ice cream chain offers a variety of Thanksgiving-themed ice-cream scoops, such as buttered mashed potatoes and gravy, a potato-flavored ice cream with gravy fudge mixed in which is a big hit.

Social Media promotion specifically for Thanksgiving - Very basic but you must run social media ads and promotions specific for Thanksgiving. It should give your customers the impression that they will have a great time if they visit you on Thanksgiving. Creating a hashtag that is unique to your restaurant and that is Thanksgiving-themed is one way to attract people. Encourage your visitors to post a photo tagging you and sharing their experience, this would increase your engagement.

You can also run contests and loyalty programs. You can think of some contests that will attract customers to your restaurant and also keep them engaged. For example, you can ask them to share a thankful note when they visit your restaurant during Thanksgiving time.

Don't forget to add festive call-to-actions to your stories to drive traffic. All the user is required to do is swipe up to be navigated to the URL of your choice.

Plan to host an event - It is one of the best restaurant marketing ideas for your restaurant. People tend to be charitable during the Thanksgiving season. Hence your event should be around the same theme. You can host a charity event or collect donations for families that are in need.

You can go live on your social-media handle showcasing how much donation you have managed to collect or how your charity event is being handled. You can even host fun live sessions like a quiz, games, and karaoke. Hosting a charitable event will give your great publicity and help you gain customers in the future.

Host a Friendsgiving Event - Friendsgiving (n): the turkey-centric festive feast held by your chosen family – your friends – to celebrate each other.  In 2019, 68% of young adults aged 18-38 indicated that they prefer attending a Friendsgiving over Thanksgiving.

You can choose to offer a traditional menu or create a specialized menu or do a mix of both. For this event, you can consider baking a savoury bread pudding instead of going traditional or even roasting Brussels sprouts with maple syrup and soy sauce. Also, you can keep board games on hand such as Jenga, Cards Against Humanity and Charades to add more fun to the dinner.  

Thanksgiving On-The-Go- Not everyone would be ready to walk in on Thanksgiving. And hence you can consider giving Catering and Take Out options. This opportunity is for those who wish to indulge in a lavish meal prepared by their favorite chef at home. You can make your customers' lives easier by offering Thanksgiving catering for the holiday that can be delivered right to their door or picked up for families on the go. Differentiate packages based on portion sizes or styles of food to meet the needs of all customers. No matter how many sides or how many entrees you offer, your customers will be grateful!

Another option is to invest in an exclusive online ordering system like Restolabs which makes Digital Ordering simpler, faster and more importantly Commission Free. With this platform, you can create an easy digital ordering process for your restaurant, complete with contactless dining and curbside pick-up options. Thus you don’t have to rely on third-party delivery services like DoorDash and worry about them charging high commission fees!

Thanksgiving dishes with a twist - People enjoy surprises, especially on this holiday. You can let all the customers know that some of the dishes on your menu will be offered with a twist. It could be as simple as offering them a vegan option or throwing a secret ingredient into a dish like Apple Pie Salsa. It will keep people excited to visit your restaurant.

If they like your dish, they are surely going to come back in the festive season with friends (or family) to enjoy the dish which is exclusively available at your place.

As part of your Thanksgiving menu, you can offer a limited edition pumpkin appetizer or cranberry dessert. To promote such dishes, you can rope in bloggers who would feature these on their social media handles.

Use Thanksgiving-themed email subject lines for Marketing – Thanksgiving is a time for showing gratitude to loved ones and expressing gratitude for what you have in your life. From a marketing perspective, thanking your customers for their business makes sense, so why not send them a personal note?

Subject lines that are funny, clever, interesting, and intriguing are great, but they must also entice your customers to open your emails immediately. You might want to integrate some attractive Turkey-Day-themed emojis in your subject lines, as appropriate. Some of these examples are: “You’d be a turkey to miss this!”, “A huge feast to celebrate gratitude”, “25% off this weekend! Use code GRATITUDE”.

Ending Note

As long as they are in harmony with the Thanksgiving spirit, many customers are open to trying new things during Thanksgiving. Restaurants should feel free to try out creative and innovative marketing tactics for Thanksgiving. At the end of the day, make sure you show gratitude towards your staff and customers through your actions. After all, 'Tis the season!


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