The festive season is one of the best times to increase brand awareness and show off what you are really capable of. If you can handle the pressure of thousands of holiday goers streaming through your doors, and do a good job at that too, you’re set for the upcoming year. But how do you deal with the added pressure and still find the time and resources to strengthen your restaurant’s brand? As with all successful ventures in life – it’s done with planning.

Plan your campaign early

Let’s face it, the Christmas decorations and carols start making their appearance in retail stores earlier every year. And if this is your trigger to start with your own festive season plan, you’re already too late (even if the tinsel goes up in October). To ensure you have the financial resources and manpower to carry out a successful Christmas campaign, you need to start planning by July – at the latest. This gives you enough time to secure additional staff, come up with unique menu ideas and set up a marketing plan that will resonate.

Get into the year-end action

Marketing yourself to businesses to host their office year-end functions in your restaurant is a great way to create brand awareness and start scooping up the cash before the festive season really kicks off. As well as marketing yourself as a venue, you can offer a platter and catering menu, should customers only require food. Also reign in the services of a few additional temporary employees to provide a waiting service along with your catering. How well you execute this will determine whether you’ll get more business at private functions over the remainder of the season.

Build up a contact list

Data is a valuable asset, and in the restaurant industry something you can’t go without if you want to grow brand awareness and increase your profits. Building up a database of your reservations throughout the year – especially from the previous festive season – will give you a group to market to. Also, tap into your loyalty programme, and ensure that you give your existing contact list a head start of sorts by allowing them to make early reservations and offering them special festive discounts.

Make your Christmas party memorable

While the traditional idea of a Christmas dinner consists of families slaving away in the kitchen for hours – or even days – there are many people who still opt for a lovely meal out, and you should accommodate them. Marketing yourself as the perfect Christmas lunch/dinner venue can do wonders for your brand awareness, however, on the special day people are expecting more than just your usual offering. Arrange for some entertainment like a live band or a DJ, and ensure you and your chef come up with a truly unique spread – one that will rival any home cooked meal.

Share in the festive spirit

‘Tis the season of giving, and you can really build brand awareness (and do some good in the process) by arranging a charity event. Host a free dinner for a non-profit organisation of your choice and ensure that you raise donations appropriate to your cause. Get your own staff involved and spread the word through your marketing channels to get your patrons to also contribute.

Author : Rudi Badenhorst