OPERATOR'S MENU GUIDE

MARKETING MADE EASY

Menu engineering with data-backed decisions – ensuring the right items are on your menu at the right price – is essential to increasing your bottom line. But words matter, too: Over half (53%) of consumers order a dish they haven't tried before because they were intrigued by the menu description. (For millennials, that number jumps to 60%!)

What makes an intriguing menu description? The majority of modern diners crave variety and uniqueness. Understanding the story behind your products and ingredients, and translating that to your diners, helps you craft your menu description.

For example: “Our Devonshire® Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake is created and decorated by hand, with a rich peanut butter filling between two layers of moist chocolate cake, covered with chocolate ganache and topped with real Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.” We’ve even gotten approval from Hershey’s for you to list that it’s “made with real Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups” when you add it to your menu!

GO BEYOND THE MENU

Getting the word out about your new menu items isn’t only limited to the menu page itself. Pia Oldham, US Foods® Menu Program Manager, encourages in-house promotional materials to promote new items on your menu. For specials and LTOs, Oldham recommends menu inserts, table tents and special separate limited-time offer menus as complements to your full menu. “These secondary applications are an easy, quick, inexpensive option to feature a special, test out a new menu item or showcase a special holiday menu – without a large investment in time or money.”

Deciding how to promote new menu items can be challenging and time-consuming if you don’t have the right resources, so having a partner in the US Foods Menu program can help make it one less thing you need to worry about. Plus, if you’re menuing a new ScoopTM item, we can equip you with table tents and posters featuring gorgeous photography, to draw diners in to try your new items.  

THE POWER OF DIGITAL PROMOTIONS

77% of guests view a restaurant’s website before selecting where to dine.

Optimizing your website can convert digital traffic to foot traffic while helping you promote your new menu items and specials.

When updating your website to spread the word online about your new items, there are several ways to create a buzz:

Digital menu. Ensure the menu on your website is completely up to date with all the information from your in-house menu, including those compelling descriptions of your new menu items. CHECK® website design partner BentoBox also recommends that you display your menu in text form and not a PDF or image. PDF menus are slow to load (particularly on mobile devices) and lead to poor Search Engine Optimization (SEO) results. Images can also be difficult to read on mobile, requiring customers to pinch and zoom. With BentoBox, your menu is quicker to load, easier to update and optimized to look good on any device.

Online ordering. The menu on your website isn’t the only digital menu you need to consider. If your restaurant offers online ordering, such as through CHECK partner ChowNow, you can use strategic labeling and position your new menu items or specials in a separate section at the top of your menu, calling out its addition to the menu and/or limited availability. Fear of missing out (FOMO) and menu placement make a great team.

Graphics. If you’re designing for print, you should also be designing for digital. Take your in-house promotional materials online to reach diners before they set foot in your restaurant. Place images of your new menu items on your website’s homepage to get more visibility whenever a new or returning customer visits your site.

STAY CONNECTED THROUGH EMAIL

If you’re not asking customers to opt into an email list or swipe on your POS system with every online order, you should be. Utilizing customer data helps you create better marketing strategies, including email marketing.

There are many easy-to-use platforms that allow you to reach your customers at their inbox. Keep your customers in the know by sending email announcements for new menu items and specials, new store locations and more – but take care not to spam them.

To avoid blasting customers with messages that might convince them to unsubscribe, be strategic with your messaging. That’s where customer data helps. The ultimate goal of email marketing is to reach the right customer at the right time with the right message. Take advantage of what you know about your customers through their history of dining with you.

SOUND SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGY

Social media is a necessity in the digital age, but with platforms frequently changing their systems and algorithms, and given the number of platforms available, the process can be confusing to navigate. Stay authentic to your brand and follow these steps to ensure shareworthy social launches of your new menu items:

Make sure you understand the metrics. An understanding of the key performance indicators of the platforms you use helps turn followers into customers.

Choose the best platforms for your business. Your customers may be on every platform, but do you need to be? Not necessarily. Instead of spreading yourself too thin, focus first on the platforms where your customers are most likely to seek you out: Facebook, Instagram and Yelp.

Develop a strategy. Just as you wouldn’t open a restaurant without a business plan, you shouldn’t approach social media without a content strategy. As you prepare to launch your specials, think about how you want to position them and the messaging you’ll use.

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Post quality photos. The rise of mobile phone technology has made it easier for novice photographers to take amazing photos. But if you still struggle, consider hiring a food photographer, pick an employee with Instagram expertise to own your social channels or…

Make Influencers work for you. Identify local micro-influencers and invite them to try your new specials and post about them. This puts your special in front of a new audience, and provides content you can repurpose and share on your own social media platforms.

Pay to play? If you’ve noticed a drop in engagement across your social media accounts, don’t take it personally. Social media networks are constantly changing their feed algorithms, making it increasingly harder for businesses to organically reach fans.