Maximize the viral power of your contest by getting your customers’ help with the promotion. So often, restaurants set up their campaign and don’t give much thought to how they’ll grow that initial spark into a full-on blaze. If you want to take your social media strategy beyond the simple “post-contest photo and link” approach, you want to grow your initial contest reach and let it spread through word-of-mouth. Here are 20 restaurant contest ideas that will delight your customers and keep them coming back for more!
A gift card contest idea is the definition of a win-win for your restaurant. Your contestant is guaranteed to be interested in your restaurant (because why wouldn’t they be?), and you’re guaranteed new customers if you have a gift card give-away.
Most online restaurant businesses will tell you that repeat customers are great for sales because it’s easier to market to them (since they’re already used to your products or services). But what about the first-time customers? They’ve never been exposed and won’t respond unless you extend the marketing funnel towards them with monthly emails or ads.
With a restaurant gift card idea contest, you can split your traffic between returning customers and new customers - essentially extending your marketing funnel even more.
It doesn’t matter how successful your restaurant is or how creative the dishes you offer are if you can’t keep customers coming back. With this contest, you will be able to create loyalty and gamification programs for your restaurant.
Some top brands use gamification and loyalty programs for their restaurants. Being innovative and creative while implementing a solid restaurant marketing campaign to retain customers is what this contest is about.
If you’re having a contest on Instagram, why not ask your followers to tag their picture with your hashtag and tag their friends in the caption for a chance to win an iPad or a pizza party for their office?
This strategy is great because it encourages people ordering a takeaway to post their photo on your wall or Instagram account in return for a chance to win something. This will help with customer engagement and give you some free marketing exposure too.
We love to hear about your favorite stories at our restaurant! What’s a good story about you and your friends or family having fun at our restaurant? Share a story with us, get your loved ones to like it, and win a $25 gift card. This idea will help you to make your customers happy.
Ok, so this is a super fun idea. Think about all the different entertainment and experiences you can put together in partnership with another company that goes well with dinner or a meal.
Are you trying to build your brand as a family spot? How about offering an “unforgettable night with your family” bundle? Do you want to attract locals of a certain age demographic? Partner up with a local museum or art gallery for some culture and history!
A free dinner for a month means your loyal customers get easy access to food and drinks without paying anything. You want to offer this prize for your contest because you want to make sure you attract as many interested parties as possible, which is precisely what this prize will do. Not only that, but it will also help you achieve one of your main goals in running a restaurant contest, to begin with − which is increasing the loyalty of your existing customers so you can draw more people into your establishment in the long run.
Why is it so good? Well, this kind of prize idea is appealing because people like getting cookbooks. Not only because they can save money when eating at home, but also because they’re easy to flip through and there’s a lot to learn. It’s nice, too, that you get to tailor it to your restaurant or restaurant personality!
You can even tie it into a “guess the ingredients” sort of game for those who win the book. In addition to that, your restaurant will hopefully be featured on their page when someone clicks through to your website. Just look at what Olive Garden does for their contest - it’s genius!
Do you want to spark excitement and generate buzz about your restaurant? Offer a private, complimentary cooking class in front of your co-workers, friends, and family! This is an easy way to create a unique VIP-type experience for the winner.
A behind-the-scenes restaurant tour is one of the most original experience-based prize ideas you can give to your customers. You can offer to take them in the morning before the lunch rush hits so that they can see how the kitchen works. This is something that most customers never get to witness and will give them an appreciation for your company.
You could make it even more attractive by offering a special behind-the-scenes tour at another time of year when there is a different event going on.
For example, maybe you provide a behind-the-scenes look at how you prepare for a big holiday or an event like Valentine’s Day. You can film this and then post it on your website and in an email newsletter to those who were lucky enough to win the prize.
Even though many contests provide extra entries for liking your page and following you on social media, not many contests provide you with extra contest entries for having friends enter the contest.
To make sure you get to win the contest, your best bet is to ask all of your friends to enter the contest. You won't know if they'll do it, but it's worth a shot. By asking them to do so, you can earn more entries into the contest.
Here's an idea for an Instagram contest: Take a picture of your food and ask your customers to tag their friends in the photo. Whoever gets the most likes on the post wins a free meal! It takes just seconds to run a contest like this, and you'll be doing something fun with food besides dumping it on someone's plate.
You could also giveaway promos after every live as an incentive for people to check-in. For example, you go live on Facebook and at the end of it say that there will be a new deal/special promotion coming up. This creates a sense of urgency and makes users want to check the restaurant out. You can then run the promotion after that.
I will throw the next birthday party of a randomly selected participant at our restaurant. This is a great chance to appeal to your customers’ emotions and get some genuine engagement on social media. They will most likely snap some pictures of themselves celebrating their birthday with food from your restaurant, share them on social media.
There are many ways to repost photos on Instagram. You can choose who reposts from your own followers, or if you have website traffic and Facebook fans/followers, use social media ads to target the followers of particular hashtags, or even create a giveaway by reposting other people's posts. The winner of the giveaway gets to choose his/her own prize---it could be a free meal or your latest product.
A dish contest is a fun contest to run. People will be able to submit photos of their favorite food dishes (yours or their own). This type of contest will encourage them to come back to your restaurant over other restaurants. It also gives you some free advertising in the form of shoppable images people can share on Facebook and Pinterest.
To promote your upcoming event, give the winners their tickets for free, and make them the organizers of an event at your venue. Your fans will participate in building up excitement, and you’ll get a lot of extra publicity when they share their thoughts on social media.
A restaurant raffle contest is another giveaway idea to give thanks to your customers who patronize your food establishment. If you want to get even more people involved in charitable giving, be sure to request a small donation of $5 from each customer.
Ensure that the donation is not mandatory, but just a suggestion that would allow customers to enter for a chance to win a turkey dinner. This will surely get them talking about your restaurant and building more awareness.
Restaurants are almost certain to be using Yelp and similar sites. If your restaurant contest idea involves customer reviews on these sites, it's essential to look at how other restaurants respond to negative reviews.
The best way to handle negative reviews is not to avoid answering. Even global chain restaurants occasionally respond, usually with a link directing the reader towards the company's Facebook page or Twitter account. This can be an excellent restaurant giveaway strategy for winning over disappointed diners.
Raise awareness of your restaurant and encourage people to share their love for their old Mom. On Mother's Day, your restaurant could host a contest where customers merge with followers on Facebook, Twitter, or other social media sites to tell a memory they have with their mom. The creation with the most "likes" wins free dinner for two at your restaurant.
What’s for dessert at local restaurants and cafes is always a hot topic of discussion. But you can let your customers decide what’s going to be served next week. Open a poll, allow people to submit their ideas for your desserts, then open it up to a vote. The winning dessert gets featured, and the person who proposed the winning idea gets to try it for free.
The key to a perfect restaurant contest idea is making sure it resonates with your audience. Spend time analyzing their lifestyle, what they’re looking for, and what they feel passionate about. This will help you craft a product or service that will stand the test of time in this competitive market.
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