Peanut butter and jelly, world health and beer all have something in common. Each has a national holiday in its honor along with dozens of other food groups and causes. And it doesn’t end there. There’s actually a food holiday for every single day of the year.
So, should you leverage existing food holidays in your marketing plan and, if so, how?
Let me begin by saying that I’m a big fan of celebrating food holidays – both personally and to the benefit of my restaurant clients. I’ve seen great success in celebrating National Potato Month (September) at Arnaud’s Restaurant, a Creole dining institution with French roots and a killer bar, Arnaud’s French 75 Bar. Another instance, more recently, involved commemorating National Banana Cream Pie Day at Emeril’s New Orleans restaurant, which offers a signature take on the mile-high pie. Every table seated for lunch or dinner in the main dining room received a complimentary slice, and for every slice presented, the Emeril Lagasse Foundation donated 10 pounds of bananas to a local school nutrition program. The results – 100 free slices served and a donation of more than 1,000 bananas! That’s bananas, right (pun most definitely intended)?!
If you decide to use holidays in your food marketing strategy, here are some ideas to get you started:
- Invite guests to celebrate with you. Create a special event or promotion that ties into the holiday, and share it far and wide via social media and online event calendars.
- Pitch local media on morning show segments, on-site shoots and advance placements. The wackier the better.
- Plan, create and post content at least two weeks in advance of the actual holiday. Invite your audience to celebrate with you by offering a special deal specific to the holiday (see Emeril’s example above). The goal here: to drive sales and generate excitement and buzz.
- Get social with it. Create a Snapchat geofilter and special hashtag for customers to use as a way to increase engagement. Encourage them to churn out pictures, videos or other user-generated content from your restaurant to help spread the word.
- Don’t overdo it. Be selective of which holidays make most sense for your brand and are worth celebrating. If you try to leverage too many food holidays, there will be burnout among both consumers and the media.
Thinking about making up your own holiday? Well, there’s a day for that too, on March 26. But you can choose any day to register your idea for a national day here. Don’t forget to let us know your food holiday idea by tweeting @DEVENEYnola using the #DEVchat hashtag!
For a complete list of food holidays by month, visit Foodimentary, a blog dedicated to national food holidays. And in the words of a very wise freelance writer quoted in Bon Appetit, “Whenever you’re celebrating a food holiday, you’re really celebrating a great marketer.”