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To plan or not to plan?  That is the question.  Taking time to put together annual plans can make a huge difference in your operations.  When you plan well in advance what you are going to market in your stores it gives you leverage to capitalize on each promo being offered.  The hardest parts are choosing what to make a special and how often to change your promotions out.

Changing a promotion too fast or too slow can result in missed opportunity.

When you change too soon your patrons don’t have time to realize their even was a promo going on.  What also happen is they may have known about it, but were not able to come back quick enough to take advantage of it.  Keeping a promotion going on for too long and it no longer appears to be a special item.  It instead becomes considered “normal” offerings.

Running a food promotion for 8 to 12 weeks allows time to fully gauge its performance.  You want to factor in 2 weeks for the current customers to realize something new is offered.  They may buy what they originally planned during their first visit but keep in mind the new promotion for their next trip back.  This leaves you 6 to 10 weeks to see how the promotion is being received.  Having a promotion is only half the battle though.

You must have informed staff and in store signage to market your food specials.

The effectiveness of your promotions can be limited without having informed staff to properly explain what is being offered.  If you don’t have any signage up your customers wont know anything special is even going on.  Sampling is also a huge way to impact any new menu items being promoted.  Take a single order and break into 4 to 6 sample plates to hand out.

Let’s break this down if you are new to creating an annual plans.  You have 12 months in a year.  You could run 4 promotions making one for each quarter or roughly 90 days long.  Should you want to more than 4 promotions a year creating a plan for bi-monthly specials will results in 6 promos per calendar year.  These are both very manageable strategies.

Depending on your culinary flexibility keeping the seasons in mind may also play a role in your annual food marketing plans.  Is their a time of year that certain fresh fruits or vegetables are locally available?  Spring and summer seasons tend to gear towards more lighter dishes verses during winter and fall people seek something savory and hearty.

If mapping your whole year is tough just stay 90 days a head of yourself.

Do the first quarter to get started, then half way through then half way through that cycle commit to your next promotion.  This will give yourself ample time to create and order your signage, source the ingredients for the dish, and train the team how to execute and explain what is being promoted.

If you don’t have design skills, work with local designers to create your adds, hire someone online via outsourcing for a nominal amount, or ask your current team for help.  your staff can surprise your with hidden talents. Don’t forget to use Social Media channels during these promotions.  They are free to use.  It just takes a small amount of time to post pics and words on them before and during your promotion being ran.

Keep in mind these additional holiday’s outside your normal annual marketing plan agenda: Lent, Mothers Day, Memorial Day, Fathers Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Christmas, and New Years.  Depending on your hospitality operation they will greatly effect your sales volume.  These are good dates to have a single special offer that runs from either one day to the whole week.  It is key to advertise well in advance for these specific holiday promotions so your customers are aware of them and you are on their mind when the days hit.

I hope you found this post helpful.  My mission is to make operations easy to understand.  It would be a huge blessing to me if you would take a moment to share this post on your social media sites.  If you have any questions or comments please don’t hesitate to share them below.  I look forward to hearing from you.

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