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7 Restaurant Contest Ideas To Turn Your Guests Into Fans



7 Restaurant Contest Ideas To Turn Your Guests Into Fans

Every restaurant desires a loyal customer base that visits regularly. Such customers ensure a steady inflow of cash and contribute to the word of mouth publicity. But how do you create a customer base like that? Serving good food and delivering great customer service is one way to do it. Another rewarding way is to host innovative restaurant and food contests.

Benefits of hosting restaurant contests:

What brought forward the trend of having contests at restaurants? Well, there are several reasons contests as well as competitions are favored by restaurant owners. Some of those are:

  1. Attract new customers
  2. Give your regular customers a reason to come back
  3. Boost brand awareness
  4. Increase footfall on off days
  5. Create excitement about visiting your restaurant
  6. Increased sales

Top restaurant contest ideas:

Now that you’re aware of what you gain by running restaurant competitions, let’s look at some innovative ideas that you can use. We have spoken to some of the most popular restaurant and bar owners in Bangalore and gathered X food contest ideas to help you delight your customers and fill restaurant seats:

This is the most simple and easiest contest that doesn’t need much action from your audience. All you need to do is create a poster and upload it on your social media channels. The next step is to send out messages through text and email to all your customers that they need to share that picture on their personal social media handles.

Make sure to specify that all the customers who do this will automatically be entered in a lucky draw contest. You can offer the contest winner a free meal for two. This ensures two things – firstly your social media engagement will blow up and everyone will interact with your profile. Secondly, you don’t have to offer anything more than a meal at your restaurant as a prize.

Make this better: By offering exceptional service to the contest winner when they visit the restaurant to claim their free meal. This will ensure they speak about it positively in their social circle. This will lead to excitement about participating in this contest and you will have more people joining in during the next round. This contest can be held once every month.

A purely Instagram-based contest, tag away or tag to win contests get new people to notice your restaurant. The contest is based on a giveaway prize. The important thing to remember while running such a giveaway on your social media handles is to keep the steps to participation very quick and easy.

A great day to do this is on a special occasion. For example, host a giveaway for your restaurant’s anniversary and ask your followers to tag three people with who they would like to share the “Anniversary special” meal in your restaurant. Get them to make their tagged friends follow your Instagram page as well.

Make it better: By not putting any limitations on the number of entries a follower can submit. This ensures multiple people get tagged by a single person. Such a contest will boost your Instagram popularity. Also, it will create intrigue in the tagged people to check out your restaurant & its offerings.

If you’re new to the social media game and don’t have many pictures on your feed, this one is the best contest to run! Not every restaurant can afford food photography. But you can leverage your customer’s photography skills and gain more content for your social media. This has the added advantage of making them excited about visiting your restaurant.

Encourage your customers and social media followers to post a picture of your restaurant – be it the food, or them dining at the restaurant, or a pretty corner they liked at the restaurant. Choose the most-liked image as the winner. This way you will get some great images to share on your social media handles. Sharing customer images is a great way of authentic advertising.

Make it better: By keeping the contest deadline at least two weeks away. This way you will see an influx of customers in that period coming in to dine and click pictures with a desire to win the contest. Keep in mind that they will only take this effort if the contest prize is exciting enough. For example, offering the winner a 50% discount on the entire bill with no maximum spending limit.

Every time I have to head to a new place for a meal, I open the Zomato app and check what the customers love about them. Is it the food? Is it their ambiance, or the overall dining experience? I like to read reviews about what dishes customers enjoy the most. But it can be challenging to build a good reserve of reviews.

To get customers to leave reviews, create a contest that encourages them to leave reviews about their experience of dining at your restaurant. You can offer them a free entry into your Loyalty Program for leaving a detailed review. Make sure you choose the right websites when asking customers to leave reviews.

Make it better: By responding promptly to each review. This shows a visiting prospective customer that you care about your customer’s opinion. Not only does it create a positive impression, but also brings to your notice important things that need your attention.  

A humorous way to engage your audience is to run a contest by sharing a quirky image and asking for a caption. This image could be anything – restaurant food photography, a picture of your staff cooking a menu item, a customer dining at your restaurant (image clicked & shared with their permission).

Since there is not much to do here apart from being funny, expect a large number of entries in this contest. Offer the best caption writer one of your menu items for free as a prize. Remember to make the contest prize as relatable as possible. If you’re asking them to caption a food image, offer them the food in the picture for free! Take the following image as an example.

Make this better: By creating a #CaptionThisPhoto series and using it as a weekly event to giveaway vouchers for dining at the restaurant. By making the vouchers redeemable only on weekdays, you can ensure you attract crowds even on slow-moving days. This will lead to an increase in footfall in the restaurant and help in boosting sales.

A great way to get your customers to be more involved in your restaurant is to get their opinion on your food. Since this contest can be run impromptu, you don’t need much prep for it. Ask your dining guests to decide how they would like a dish they’re ordering to be altered. The aim should be to make it exactly how they would like it.

Allow them to suggest changes in the ingredients and make a note of it with their contact details. Let them know that they have been entered in a contest where your chef will try creating this dish exactly as described by them. This way, you get newer recipes for your restaurant menu. Once your chef tries the described recipes, reward the customer who shared the best variation.

Make it better: By naming the new variation of your menu item after the winning customer’s name. This has the power to delight a customer and turn them into loyal customers. Imagine the word-of-mouth publicity that your restaurant gets when the winning customer shares this reward in their circle!

Two is always better than one, which is why we recommend partnering with another business for this last contest idea. Reach out to local corporate companies and ask them to offer your restaurant coupons for their in-house contests. For instance, they can offer free meal coupons to their “Employee of the Month”.

You can also create an exclusive giveaway for them to participate where the reward involves offerings from both parties. This allows you to choose any company to collaborate with, and not just a corporate company.  Take the following example of a Michelin star restaurant collaborating with a kitchen design company.

Make it better: By informing all your dining guests about this contest and keeping the steps for participation very straightforward. This contest doesn’t have to be necessarily Instagram-based as shown in the example above. But you need to promote it on your social media handles to increase its reach.


We have shared a good mix of restaurant contests and competitions that are effective in turning your guests into loyal fans. Depending on your advertising budget, you can make the rewards fancy or stick to something as simple as a $10 coupon. Don’t shy away from innovating and get creative with the contest terms. If you have any great restaurant contest ideas to share, drop them in the comments below!

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Getting Started with the Agile Marketing Navigator: Cycle Planning



Getting Started with the Agile Marketing Navigator: Cycle Planning

We recently introduced you to Agile Marketing Navigator, a flexible framework for navigating agile marketing for marketers, by marketers in the article A new way to navigate agile marketing. The navigator has four major components: Collaborative Planning Workshop, Launch Cycle, Key Practices and Roles. Within these categories, there are several sub-pieces for implementation. In recent articles, we covered the pieces in the first stop of the navigator, the Collaborative Planning Workshop

Now we’re going to dive into our second stop on your agile marketing journey—the Launch Cycle. The Launch Cycle is a repeatable cadence for delivering valuable marketing experiences early and often. Within the Launch Cycle there are five key components—Marketing Backlog, Cycle Planning, Daily Huddle, Team Showcase and Team Improvement. Last week we shared how to build an effective Marketing Backlog. Today we’re going to take a deeper look at Cycle Planning.

Cycle planning

During Cycle Planning, the team collaborates and plans for the work they intend to launch during a 5 or 10 day cycle. The goal is for everyone on the team to commit to what work they plan to launch and to discuss how they’re going to work together to achieve that goal. The team synchronizes timing around their work and understands everything involved to deliver customer value in this launch. 

To prepare for Cycle Planning, the Marketing Backlog should be ready for the team. Things to look for here are:

  • Is the work in priority order?
  • Is the work sized by effort?
  • Do we understand any dependencies?
  • Do we know what success looks like for each backlog item?
  • How will we test, learn & measure our results?

The Marketing Owner should come to Cycle Planning with a Cycle Goal in mind that ladders up to the Guidepoint. This is meant to give the team guidance on what a good outcome of the cycle will look like, but not specific tasks that they will complete.

A Cycle goal may read something like this:

The above shares what the Marketing Owner hopes the team accomplishes, but the team decides what work they can do in the cycle to get there and may also have other work as well.

The team doing the work attends Cycle Planning. This may include part-time team members, or Supporting Cast people that have work in the upcoming Cycle. Stakeholders and Practice Leads shouldn’t attend unless they are contributing to the work.

The team is self-organizing in Cycle Planning. The team decides which marketing backlog items they can tackle during the cycle, and how they will accomplish the work by breaking out tasks.

At the end of Cycle Planning, all team members should know what work the team has committed to and how they all plan to approach getting it done. The Cycle Planning eliminates siloed planning and people only focusing on their tasks and brings to light collective team ownership.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.

About The Author

Stacey knows what it’s like to be a marketer, after all, she’s one of the few agile coaches and trainers that got her start there. After graduating from journalism school, she worked as a content writer, strategist, director and adjunct marketing professor. She became passionate about agile as a better way to work in 2012 when she experimented with it for an ad agency client. Since then she has been a scrum master, agile coach and has helped with numerous agile transformations with teams across the globe. Stacey speaks at several agile conferences, has more certs to her name than she can remember and loves to practice agile at home with her family. As a lifelong Minnesotan, she recently relocated to North Carolina where she’s busy learning how to cook grits and say “y’all.”

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What It Is & How to Build an Effective One



What It Is & How to Build an Effective One

In the business world, professionals are obsessed with tactics because they can help them meet their short-term goals. But if all you do is focus on the short-term, you won’t spend enough time or energy figuring out how you can succeed in the long-term.


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the second key persona for modern marketing operations leaders



the second key persona for modern marketing operations leaders

This 4-part series presents a framework that helps rationalize the roles and responsibilities modern marketing operations leaders are taking on. This installment summarizes the framework briefly, and dives into how MOps leaders are now “orchestrators.” 

In case you missed it, part 1 is here.

Inspiration for this framework

Two years ago, marketing technology pioneer and editor Scott Brinker outlined the four key responsibilities of marketing technologists, summarized here.  

That work espoused the view that you could be both a marketer AND a technology leader. They are not mutually exclusive! It was my inspiration for this framework, explaining how today’s MOps leaders are instrumental for marketing and business success.

X-Axis:  A range of skills from a focus on technology to creativity and arts

Y-Axis: A range of decision-making skills, ranging from emotional to rational approaches

The resulting grid captures four MOps archetypes or “personas.” MOps leaders exhibit characteristics across all parts of this framework and will operate in multiple quadrants, similar to Brinker’s frameworks.

Modernizers – Are most likely to be the “original” technologists, constantly modernizing their martech stack.

Orchestrators – Are the closest to Brinker’s Maestros and the focus of this article. He described this archetype in 2020 as the “Operations Orchestrator — MAESTROS who design and manage the workflows, rules, reports, and tech stacks that run the marketing department.

Psychologists – Are now increasingly responsible for “reading customers’ minds,” i.e. interpreting customers’ interest through intent data and digital engagement.

Scientists – Are constantly testing and evaluating. Experimentation is their specialty.

Orchestrators: Leaders of the band

Now that you’re familiar with the framework, let’s dig deeper into the Orchestrators!

I’ll start with a personal story. My exposure to orchestration started with 8-straight years of practice in violin and trumpet during my formative years. Each week was literally a blur of private lessons, group lessons, orchestra and/or band practice. I probably spent as much time with music directors as I did with my family.  

It was painfully obvious to those conductors when we hadn’t prepared or practiced. Moreso, we would get – literally – an “earful” from the conductor when we were not listening to the other instrument sections. If we were not coordinating our efforts and timing, the outcome was awful for anyone listening.

Source: Unsplash

This orchestration metaphor is powerful because there are multiple levels for MOps leaders:

  • As a project management team within marketing, and often as a conductor across external agency partners.
  • As a cross-function business partner and primary contact for IT, compliance, and legal, in addition to the traditional MOps role of achieving marketing/sales alignment

Notably, all marketers have to be project managers for their own tasks/deadlines. They must be aligned with overall campaign and program timelines. 

However, as organizations scale they are more likely to have dedicated project management teams to handle coordination across the specialist teams within marketing. The orchestration responsibility may include timeline, scope, and capacity trade-offs even after campaign briefs have received approval. 

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The orchestration responsibility multiplies when agency execution teams are delivering on individual tactics and media buys. Last year, Optimizely described these evolving orchestration duties as a “transformative shift and approach towards how marketing synchronizes their teams, content, channels, workflows, and data!”

I believe the shift is even more impactful, with orchestration benefits being felt beyond marketing. The highest value “program orchestration” responsibilities occur when MOps leaders are representing marketing’s interests in enterprise-wide programs with other functions within the organization, including product, compliance, and IT. Examples of orchestration duties with these other key functions can include:

  • Product teams – Coordinating campaigns with major product feature/functionality launches, and managing brand standards.
  • Legal/Compliance – Overseeing compliance with Can-Spam, GDPR, and CCPA, and customer preference and data privacy initiatives that may be initiated by a marketing touch-point. 
  • IT/Procurement – Technology stack management, vendor evaluations and negotiations, platform integrations and data management.

All of this departmental and cross-departmental coordination requires skill sets that can be analogized as the difference between a chamber orchestra (marketing) and a full symphony. It’s the highest level of conducting across the enterprise. 

MOps leaders are holding individuals and teams to target timelines while managing the scope of a particular campaign and business initiative. They do this while also overseeing targeting of customer and prospect segments.

In order to accomplish this complex segmentation and coordination, MOps leaders are now responsible for cross-functional data – embodied by the modern martech stack imperative: integration. Integration across systems has been the #1 issue for marketers since the modern marketing tech stack started exploding in the early 2010’s, but software and solutions providers finally listened. A tipping point was reached in 2020. Marketers reported that we were finally working within an integrated, multi-system environment, according to a CDP Institute member survey analyzed here.  

Continuing with the orchestration analogy, the conductor is the integration “synchronizer,” deciding if/when the data flows across the stack. The sheet music is the data model standard showing how to map common attributes. 

However, just because we now have this more integrated environment does not mean our work is done. The instruments do not play themselves (yet!) and they require configuration and deliberate training to play effectively — both individually and in groups. 

Training was one of the top responsibilities for marketing ops leadership, ranking it in the top 5 of MOPS tasks by percentage of work, according to the 2022 MarTech Salary and Career Survey, published jointly by MarTech and (free, ungated download here). conducted by chiefmartec.

In the 2020 version of that same study, training was highlighted as one of the top two responsibilities for many of the primary marketing technologists personas, and 91% of operations orchestrators reported that training and supporting technologies were among their top priorities.

MOps leaders are never done

Finally, under the category of “MOps leaders are never done”, the last several years have also forced a whole new category of orchestration duties – a combination of conducting, training, and martech growth: marketing work management.

The largest growth (67%) over the last several years was in the category of “work management”, according to the 2022 edition of the Martech Landscape. Established entrants such as Adobe expanded with the acquisition of Workfront, while newer players like Trello and Monday gained traction.  

Although this was already a prevailing trend BEFORE the pandemic, the hybrid/remote work environment brought on by the last 2+ years forced these project management and agile-planning tools to the forefront.  The marketing work management category grew to over 1000+ tools, according to the State of Martech 2022

Source: State of MarTech 2022 – and Martech Tribe

MOps leaders are Maestros

In summary, modern MOps leaders are indeed Maestros. They are skilled orchestrators, conducting a symphony across multiple levels. They lead:

  • Omni-channel campaigns within marketing and across business functions
  • Integration across an ever-growing, integrated martech stack
  • Training and deployment as one of their primary responsibilities 

Editor’s note: In Part 3 of this 4-part series, Milt will expand on MOps leaders’ growing role as Psychologists. For background on this framework, see Part 1 of this series here

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.

About The Author

Milt is currently Director of Customer Experience at MSI Data, an industry-leading cloud software company that focuses on the value and productivity that customers can drive from adopting MSI’s service management solutions.

With nearly 30 years of leadership experience, Milt has focused on aligning service, marketing, sales, and IT processes around the customer journey. Milt started his career with GE, and led cross-functional initiatives in field service, software deployment, marketing, and digital transformation.
Following his time at GE, Milt led marketing operations at Connecture and HSA Bank, and he has always enjoyed being labeled one of the early digital marketing technologists. He has a BS in Electrical Engineering from UW Madison, and an MBA from Kellogg School of Management.

In addition to his corporate leadership roles, Milt has been focused on contributing back to the marketing and regional community where he lives. He serves on multiple boards and is also an adjunct instructor for UW-Madison’s Digital Marketing Bootcamp. He also supports strategic clients through his advisory group, Mission MarTech LLC.

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