5 Fall Marketing Ideas for Chicago Restaurant Owners


For many people, fall is their favorite time of the year. The fall means back-to-school routines, the excitement of football, and pumpkin-spice everything. For some types of restaurants, fall might mark the beginning of a slow season. Even if you’ve planned for and expect times when business tends to drop off, it’s important to continue your marketing throughout the year.

With fall upon us, we’ve put together some marketing ideas for Chicago restaurant owners to keep their business top of mind as the leaves change colors and sweater weather returns.

5 Ways to Keep Your Restaurant Full This Fall


1. Get in the Spirit!

Restaurants are in a unique position to tap into seasonal spirit. Just scratching the surface, restaurants can take advantage of fall flavors and favorites by offering exclusive menu items, drinks, and specials. (While pumpkin spice is a hit, there’s plenty of room for creativity.) Adding decor is a simple way to have some fun, from Halloween decorations to gourds and hay bales. Whatever you do to show you’re in the spirit, be sure to let customers know. Update your website, run ads, and post pictures to your social pages, so customers can get excited for a new experience during the colder months.

2. Host a Fall Event

Hosting an event can be an effective way to get new customers in the door and build brand awareness. Halloween provides the perfect opportunity to attract a crowd at your restaurant, but it’s not the only one during the fall. Get creative and think outside the costume party. Remember that it’s also time for football season, Oktoberfest, and Thanksgiving. While you’re planning your fall event, target local search ads by specifying a particular neighborhood, zip code, city, region, or radius. That way, when potential customers are searching for a place to go for good food and seasonal fun, they find you. Click here for other tips to draw bigger crowds at your next event.

3. Remember the Power of Social

Even if you don’t go all out with the decorations, you can still get in the spirit online. Offer fall exclusives or post discount codes on social media. Have fun with contests. (“Share your pics: 50% off appetizers for flannel-wearing customers!”) Ask followers to post photos of themselves in Halloween costumes, then get people to vote for their favorite. Offer the winner a prize like a free entrée.

If you haven’t tried social media advertising, fall could be a great time to get started. Platforms such as Facebook and Twitter can match your ads with users based on location, among other demographics, so you can reach local customers.

4. Try Radio Advertising

Radio is an effective and affordable way to drive awareness and reach local customers during the slow season. Use radio ads to promote your fall events and menu specials, or position your restaurant as the place to celebrate after the big game. Leverage the frequency advantages of radio advertising to ensure that listeners know your restaurant will have all the games on TV and offer discounted apps on Sundays. Not sure it works? Consider that radio advertisers see an average $6 in return for every $1 spent.

5. Think Ahead!

The arrival of fall means that colder temperatures and the holidays will be here before we know it. If you’ll be open or delivering for Thanksgiving, the time to promote that is around the corner. Think ahead a few months—do you want to promote gift certificates for Christmas, and advertise your New Year’s Eve event? If your restaurant is closed during the winter or only open certain days, you’ll want to start letting people know soon. Plan to share when you’ll reopen in the spring, and make gift certificates available for purchase online. Placing all of your holiday advertising now is a smart move to make the most of your marketing budget and avoid a stressful upcoming holiday season.

The slow season doesn’t mean you should take a break from advertising. Fall presents many possibilities for your restaurant—from getting creative with your menu and events, to being strategic with your marketing so you stay top of mind and ahead of the game. Try out these fall marketing ideas to help keep your restaurant full.

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