New Smoking Bans Require More Creativity in Promotions

10 Tips to Boost Your Business

Restaurants and bars are currently facing numerous challenges including a sluggish economy, heightened anxiety among consumers, and newly enacted smoking bans. As a result, restaurateurs worry that their already diminished profit margins may decline further. To help food and beverage establishments stay on top, Chris Rosica, CEO of Rosica Strategic Public Relations, offers easily-executable tips to help promote your restaurant or bar — bringing in new customers and garnering some media exposure while you’re at it!
Rosica’s top 10 simple ways to drive business in your food and beverage establishment:

1. Bring in new customers by hosting networking events (local business networks, Young Entrepreneurs’ Organization, Women in Business, etc.) or showcase local artists through fashion and art shows. Allow the artists or organization to use your space and enlist them to promote the event.

2. Donate space for charity fundraisers or for regular non-profit meetings (during your off-peak hours) and align yourself with a cause in your community. Use the charity’s mailing list to drive traffic while boosting customer loyalty. People are loyal to those who give to the community.

3. Align your establishment with local dating services to host get-togethers, or speed dating lunches/happy hours.

4. Offer cooking classes or demonstrations on slower nights. Make it a monthly event, serve wine and create a festive atmosphere to develop faithful participants.

5. Join forces with local businesses to offer specials to their employees and/or patrons by hosting happy hours for employees, special late night promotions for movie or theatergoers, etc. And, sample local corporations with food for which you are known or treat area office managers to a free lunch.

6. Organize leagues for dart or pool players. If your establishment is not equipped for this, sponsor local adult sports teams and offer food and beverage specials post practices and after games.

7. Host wine tasting events. Offer a different flair — such as featuring a different wine region or country every month. Serve foods from that region and invite your wine distributor to send in their experts to speak about the wines. Offer a travel agency partner the opportunity to speak about the region as a vacation destination. As your partner they can do giveaways and sponsor food and beverage for your events. Since the travel industry is down, travel agencies may wish to become an integral part of the seminars to promote their businesses.

8. Offer late night specials and drink cards to employees of other food and beverage establishments that close earlier than yours (i.e. a contest where the restaurant that has the most employees in your bar on a particular Sunday night gets special discounts, drink cards or even a free $50.00 bar tab for their staff to split the following Sunday night).

9. Utilize the media to spread the word about your business and keep your name in front of your customers. Send media advisories before special events, get listed in your local newspaper and entertainment guide’s calendar of events. Distribute photographs from events to local newspapers to garner post-event coverage.

10. ALWAYS enlist the help of your food and beverage purveyors to donate or cut prices on products and/or donate giveaways. Remember, their marketing budget exists to promote their products in YOUR establishment!

A graduate of Johnson & Wales and Florida International Universities, earning Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management degrees respectively, a former chef and food safety expert, Chris Rosica is CEO of Rosica Strategic Public Relations, a national PR agency based in Paramus, NJ. Rosica’s agency is credited with making Wally Amos and his cookie company “Famous,” without the benefit of advertising.

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