Be ahead of the game. Use those January blues to your advantage to boost New Year sales with a creative restaurant marketing campaign.

4 min read

With the festive season well underway, you are probably up to the eyeballs in Christmas crackers and mince pies. The last thing you want to think about is the dreaded January Blues, what a way to be a grinch! However, hear us out. 

January is renowned for being quiet and having the biggest dip in restaurant sales. In January this year, UK pub and restaurant figures were down a further 1.8 percent on last January’s (2018) collective like-for-like sales, according to RSM & Coffer Group Coffer Peach Business Tracker. RSM has attributed this dip to the growing influence in public health campaigns such as Dry January and Veganuary among Brexit and adverse weather, which undoubtedly could drop a customer’s average dining spend.

Therefore, to not let the normal sales dip go any lower and worsen the slump right off the back of the festive high, we suggest setting up a creative marketing campaign to try and use those customer January blues to your advantage. 

Creating an innovative marketing idea

In the past, a couple of restaurants have been notably innovative with their January promotions. 

Wahaca (Mexican restaurant franchise) introduced a quirky marketing campaign back in 2015 in a bid to return their highly coloured spoons by initiating an Annual Spoon amnesty in January. Customers were encouraged to bring back the spoon in return for a free plate of tacos. This was a great solution for the restaurant to regain assets and lure in customers.

A couple of years back, Liverpool restaurant Lucha Libre headed down the generosity route off the back of festive goodwill spirit, by joining up with the “Keep It Local” campaign. The restaurant donated 10% of a customer’s bill to a local church helping rough sleepers if they could show they had spent £5 or more in a local independent business, retailer or charity. This also included a 40% discount off the bill. This campaign not only encouraged dinners in with the lure of a discounted meal but also ensured other local businesses were supported.

Meanwhile this year, Yo! Sushi seized at the opportunity to ride the Veganuary and New Year health resolution mentality bandwagon, by launching the Make It! menu. It offered diners 40 dishes at £3 each and the chance to detox with 14 vegan dishes and plates under 180kcal (some even fitting in with the WeightWatchers Smartpoints plan). This was a great way to entice those diners who would not necessarily have dined in January the option head out.

You could always fall back on the classic marketing strategies such as a; 2-4-1 on mains, £1 sides to add to your meal, a percentage discount off the food bill by quoting a ‘catchy’ code name or offering return vouchers for anyone who dines with you in January. Alternately you could ask customers to bring in unwanted Christmas foods/gifts to donate to a charity in return for a free coffee or a return visit voucher discount. A win for all! 

Got a great idea, now how to implement. 

So you now have a cracking idea to win over those January customers, what is the best way to promote and monitor the impact it has on your restaurant. You can promote it with good old fashioned flyers or use the power of a social media post. However, it can be hard to be prepared for customers and manually keep track of those taking up the offer by noting it against a booking. If that is, the customer remembers to quote it at the time of booking! 

simpleERB has a great feature you can use to promote, track and source reports on your January campaign all in one with ‘booking offers’! Further information on setting these up can be found here. There is also an option to set these as private so that normal customers booking online will not be able to view this and only customers you have promoted this too can book (find out how, here). This will help to generate a mix of customer sales throughout January, as you don’t want everyone coming in receiving a discount. After creating your ‘booking offer’ and generating the private booking URL, you can then use to create an email campaign with companies such as Mailchimp or add a shortened version as a link inside a social media post. 



When the customer books the offer via the link, this is marked on their booking (can also be applied for telephone bookings) and can be easily identified in a diary or print view.  

For an email campaign, under the GDPR regulations, you are only able to market to customers who have agreed verbally with staff or selected to “opt-in” via the online booking widget. You can source your ‘opted in’ customer emails by specifying the customer category using the customer’s export report and selecting the “opted into marketing messages via email” button. It would be good practice to make sure your team is aware of the law and asking telephone bookings if they agree to ‘opt-in’,  to help increase your GDPR compliant customer database for marketing. 

By using the customer export report, it means you can generate a list of customers with the specific criteria that you wish to advertise this too. Be it people who dined in December, people you have marked as loyal customers via quick info buttons or people who in the past dined on other offers you ran. 

To promote via social media, you can add the private booking link to the Facebook or Instagram post which gives customers the opportunity to make a booking straight away when viewing.

You can then monitor the promotion within the ‘booking offers’ by viewing the allocation booked or by pulling a customer export booking report selecting to show only customers who have booked the offer. We also have the forward covers report you could pull to examine if the promotions have given you a cover boost in January 2020 compared to the bookings you had in 2019.

When you have launched your creative promotion and marketed it to your customers, hopefully, you can sit back and monitor its progress in beating those January blues. 

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels