10 practical restaurant marketing ideas for Valentine’s Day-feature

Last year, an incredible $5 billion was spent on an evening out on Valentine’s Day. The average annual Valentine’s Day spending is over $13 billion dollars – with dining out accounting for 34.6% of the total gifts given. It, therefore, makes business sense to place your restaurant in a position to capitalize on diners’ love of spending, on what’s known as ‘the day of love.’ Planning and implementing marketing ideas for your restaurant on Valentine’s Day is a must, especially if you’re aiming to increase your restaurant’s post-holiday bookings.

Although Valentine’s Day is known for diners packing out restaurants, you shouldn’t risk leaving your marketing to chance. The earlier you start to plan for Valentine’s Day, the higher the likelihood that diners will choose your restaurant over your competitors. Your restaurant marketing ideas for Valentine’s Day can range from the simple to the elaborate. But one thing is for sure, your Valentine’s night can’t be business as usual. With more consumers craving experiences instead of things, your diners will appreciate that your restaurant has made an effort to make them feel special on this significant day. Keep reading for more practical restaurant marketing ideas for Valentine’s Day.


Given that February 14th is the second busiest day of the year for eateries, here are 10 restaurant marketing ideas for Valentine’s Day to ensure that you get your slice of the profits:

  1. Social sharing is caring
  2. Hit the streets
  3. Cross-promote
  4. Include gift cards
  5. Offer a special menu
  6. Use creative copywriting
  7. Offer free treats
  8. Amp-up the ambiance
  9. Prepare a Proposal Package
  10. Give your employees a Valentine’s Day treat
  11. Go Anti-Valentine’s Day

1. Social sharing is caring

Selfies of loved-up couples are one of the most popular types of social media posts. Use this love of sharing to market your restaurant for Valentine’s Day. You can ask your followers to share romantic pictures of themselves and their significant other for a chance to win an exclusive dinner for two on Valentine’s Day.

Doing the following will help to increase the chances of a successful social media contest:

  • Choose a catchy, fun and memorable hashtag for your contest.
  • Specify the types of posts you want shared. Your restaurant’s reputation is at stake, so include clear guidelines about what’s appropriate for your contest.
  • Promote your contest on your website and in your restaurant. Train your employees to mention your promotion to diners before Valentine’s Day. You can also design a menu insert to advertise your contest.
  • Treat the winning couple to a V.I.P experience on Valentine’s Day and encourage them to share pictures of their night. This will keep the social buzz going and attract new diners.

2. Hit the streets

Now that you’ve taken care of the online aspect of marketing your restaurant for Valentine’s Day, it’s time to turn your attention offline. Take advantage of the foot traffic around your restaurant in the weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day.

Firstly, you can advertise your February 14th special by getting your employees to dress up in Valentine’s Day themed fancy dress. Cupid and heart-shaped costumes are a good way of attracting attention. Ask your employees to take turns to hand out fliers about your Valentine’s Day promotions. The costumes will generate interest and will signal to potential diners that your restaurant is serious about providing a memorable experience for Valentine’s Day.


3. Cross-promote

It’s a smart move to include other local businesses in your restaurant marketing ideas for Valentine’s Day. Don’t go out alone this February 14th. Instead, partner with neighboring businesses to boost trade for all involved.

To gain the most out of cross-promotion, identify businesses with:

  • Non-competing products and services
  • Shared values
  • Comparable resources to add to the cross promotion
  • A similar customer base

Cross-promoting your restaurant with local businesses can be a very efficient and cost-effective Valentine’s Day marketing strategy. An example of a cross-promotion for your restaurant is to team up with your local florist and offer roses with their details to your diners. In return, the florist could include a special offer coupon for your restaurant in every bouquet.


4. Include gift cards

According to The National Retail Federation, gift cards continue to be the most popular gift item for 11 consecutive years. Gift cards aren’t requested only to buy goods. A National Restaurant Association survey found:

  • Almost one-third of American adults would like to get a restaurant gift card for Valentine’s Day.
  • Restaurant gift cards were the most popular types of gifts (31%) ahead of jewelry, clothes, flowers, chocolate, and perfume.
  • The majority of men (46%) said they preferred gift cards in comparison to women.

Promote your gift cards as early as possible in order to appeal to those who want to buy a gift for a special couple they know. Restaurant gift cards are a smart marketing idea for Valentine’s Day as they have the potential to generate profits for your restaurant even after February 14th.


5. Offer a special menu

Consider offering a special menu for Valentine’s Day. Take the time to craft the ideal set of choices with multiple courses, each with a romantic theme. A dessert meant for sharing would be a great addition to your menu. The more food associated with love that you can add to your menu, the better for your diners. Foods like oysters and asparagus are considered to be aphrodisiacs and therefore should be included on your Valentine’s Day menu.

If you plan on implementing some of the restaurant marketing ideas for Valentine’s Day in this article, you should expect a full house. To make Valentine’s night easier on your employees and to give your diners the best experience, consider introducing a fixed price menu. Choose pre-selected dishes which could include the following courses:

  • Appetizer
  • Soup
  • Salad
  • Entrée
  • Dessert to share

To add a sweetener to your fixed-price menu, offer a free glass of wine with the meal.


6. Use creative copywriting

If your special Valentine’s Day menu contains well-known foods of love, you should emphasize this point. However, just describing an asparagus or oyster won’t be enough. You’ll need to put your creative cap on to describe your special menu in a way that will entice couples to visit your restaurant.

Clever copywriting will set your restaurant apart from the eateries offering Valentine’s Day menus. Add some personality to your marketing material while sticking to your brand messaging.

You could also invent a new cocktail or mocktail for Valentine’s Day. Place your new creation at the center of your advertising to let your diners know that they’re in for a treat. You can take some inspiration from this list of Valentine’s Day cocktails and add your own unique twist.

Don’t worry if you think your creative skills aren’t up to scratch. You can hire a professional copywriter who will whip-up the perfect words to describe your Valentine’s Day offering.


7. Offer free treats

Spoiling a loved one on Valentine’s Day can be expensive. So including a freebie in your restaurant marketing ideas will be a welcome bonus. As well as offering a free glass of wine with your fixed price menu, why not offer a small token gift when your diners leave your restaurant? You can choose a popular gift like a red rose or chocolates. Alternatively, you could give away something more creative. The rose will wilt and the chocolates will be eaten, so think about offering a keepsake or loyalty card that will double up as free advertising.

The following are cost-effective mementos that can boost your diner’s feel-good factor and also promote your restaurant:

  • Include a space to add a romantic message on your special menu and allow the couple to keep the menu.
  • Design a digital photo frame with your restaurant’s theme and name. To grow your marketing list, take the couple’s picture and send it to them via email.
  • Print the photo with the digital frame before they leave the restaurant. Photo printers and paper are inexpensive, so take a picture of the couple and give them a printout of your restaurant-inspired Valentine’s Day framed photo.

8. Amp-up the ambiance

You want to wow both your regular and new diners for Valentine’s Day. Therefore, a solid restaurant marketing idea is to focus on how your restaurant will be transformed into a ‘love-nest’ on Valentine’s Day. Use clever copywriting to describe in detail what your diners will experience on the night. The romance theme should be incorporated into every part of your restaurant.

Here are some marketing ideas to promote an intimate atmosphere in your restaurant on Valentine’s Day:

  • Break up large tables to accommodate two-seaters for couples.
  • Use soft colors, splashed with hints of red.
  • Place heart-shaped ornaments strategically around your restaurant.
  • Include red roses in the flower arrangements.
  • Serve food in heart-shaped dishes.
  • Dress your servers in an item of red clothing.
  • Hire a live musician to create a romantic mood.

When decorating your restaurant for Valentine’s Day, remember to keep within your brand. If your restaurant normally has an understated vibe, draping the whole place in red with statues of cupid may be overwhelming and off-putting to your regular diners.


9. Prepare a Proposal Package

Many people plan to get engaged to their significant other on Valentine’s Day. Additionally, 60% of couples announce their engagement on social media within 24 hours of the event. A proposal package as a Valentine’s Day marketing idea for your restaurant will not only attract more diners but also provide extra publicity for your eatery.

Promote your restaurant as a perfect proposal destination by offering a package which includes:

  • Flowers
  • Champagne
  • Limousine ride
  • Digital announcement on a screen in the restaurant

You can advertise your proposal package in local businesses like the gym or the barber shop. Targeting single people in your local area through Facebook advertising is a worthwhile way to advertise your Valentine’s proposal package.

Offering a proposal package is a very big responsibility. You need to ensure that everything is coordinated perfectly. Employees who are responsible for bringing out the surprise ring hidden in food must do so at the right time. Flowers need to be presented when the fiancé accepts. Every detail that goes into making a proposal a once-in-a-lifetime occasion should be catered for. Where you aren’t offering a proposal package at your restaurant, you should still prepare your staff for an impromptu ‘popping of the question.’ Make provision to treat the happy couple with flowers and a champagne toast.


10. Give your employees a Valentine’s Day Treat

Don’t forget your employees this Valentine’s Day. Give your employees the gift of technology by utilizing employee scheduling software in your restaurant. When your restaurant staff has the technology they need, they’re happier ( and not to mention more efficient).
Many employees, such as millennials and Generation Z employees, prefer technology-infused workplace as they believe technology enables them to be more productive. These new generations see mobility and smartphones as essential in the workplace.

Using Deputy’s workforce management app empowers employees with a flexible and more productive work environment. Employees can create schedules that fit with their personal lives, second jobs, or schooling – all from their smartphone. This type of flexibility is vital for part-time and hourly employees who do not have the option to work from home or implement other types of flex work schedules.
What more could your employees want!?


11. Go Anti-Valentine’s Day

You could be fooled into thinking that everyone celebrates Valentine’s Day because of the huge amount spent. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. There’s a growing anti-Valentine’s Day movement for those who want to opt-out of the love fest celebrations.
Your anti-Valentine’s night could target those who have been spurned in love. A themed menu with appropriately named cocktails and mocktails would help to boost the anti-romance theme. For one night only, your restaurant can be transformed into a haven for the broken-hearted.

You could also promote a singles night so that those without a date have somewhere to go. Make this a normal night with no Valentine’s Day paraphernalia in sight. You want your single guest to have a great time without feeling they’re missing out.

The restaurant marketing ideas for Valentine’s Day above will help you to maximize profit while helping happy couples (and singles) celebrate. That’s what you call a win-win.


Your turn

Have you shown customers how much you love them lately? Are you planning to? Tell us about your efforts in the comments.

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