Switching-up your menu is a fantastic way to keep your regular customers interested, inspire new diners to try your food, and to make your menu feel fresh and exciting. It also keeps things interesting for your team, giving chefs a chance to innovate and try new dishes.
But how exactly do you get the word out about your new menu? There’s no point adding an amazing monthly-changing special to the menu if no one knows about it.
Fortunately, you’ve come to the right place for an answer. In this article, we take a look at some ways you can promote new menu items to diners (and how to do it if you’re on a budget).
How do you introduce a new menu item?
Let’s get straight to it. Here are five steps you can follow to introduce and promote new food items on your menu.
1. Generate some buzz and excitement
Creating excitement around your new menu is a great way to get people interested in what’s to come. As a result, they’re more likely to give the new items a try.
Here are some ways to create anticipation around your new food items:
- Tease new menu items. Give people a glimpse of what the new menu will include, but not the full picture. That way, you pique the interest of your customers without giving everything away. This should generate some excitement around your new food.
- Offer incentives for trying them. Let people know that they’ll receive something in return for trying the new items. Perhaps they’ll get a discount, or a free side if they order a new main. This’ll give them something to look forward to and encourage them to try your new food when it goes live.
2. Train your staff to talk to customers about the new items
Make sure all your serving staff know what your new menu items are and how to talk about them to your customers. That way, you know that every customer coming through the door will be told about your new menu (which might encourage them to give them a try).
So what can you do to make sure that your staff know how to talk about your food?
A good place to start is to conduct tastings and training sessions.
During these sessions, staff can sample the new menu items, learn about the ingredients, and understand the flavours. You can also cover any cooking technique or special features that make the dish stand out from your other menu items.
This firsthand experience will allow them to provide more authentic and enthusiastic recommendations to customers.
3. Invite food critics and reviewers
Get food critics and reviewers to come along to a menu tasting. That way, they can write reviews, post them online or publish them in print, and spread the word about your new menu.
Plus, if they leave good reviews (which hopefully they will), it shows potential customers that your food is worth trying. And studies show that 96% of people say that reviews play an important part in their decision to purchase food.
4. Take high-quality photographs
It’s tempting to reach for your phone and capture a few quick snaps of your new food — but professional images will help you capture your food at its best.
Take a look at the images of food on our website as an example. All of our virtual food brands have professional imagery of the food, making the food look delicious and – let’s face it - mouth-watering.
Here’s an example from our Seoul Chikin virtual brand.
You can also repurpose these images for other use. For example, you could send pictures to food bloggers, social influencers and journalists with press releases, which leads us nicely to our next section.
5. Launch a press release
Press releases aren’t just for big brands. They’re also a fantastic way to communicate with your local audience.
For example, you could launch a press release to local foodie magazines or local news websites. This helps you reach a wider audience, getting your new menu out there in front of more people.
If you’re new to press releases, don’t worry. Here are some tips:
- Start with your key message. Identify the most important information or news you want to convey in the press release. In this case, it’s that you have new menu items. Make sure this is clearly outlined in the press release and the title so there’s no confusion over what you’re trying to say.
- Follow a standard press release format. A press release includes a compelling headline, the release date, your restaurant’s name and logo, a concise introduction, informative body paragraphs, and relevant supporting details. Use clear and concise language, focusing on the essential information. Take a look at this press release from the Hard Rock Cafe in India as an example of how to structure your press release.
- Edit and distribute. Once finalised, you can send the press release to any relevant websites or journalists in your local area.
How to promote new menu items on a budget
Wondering how to promote new menu items without breaking the bank? Here are some tips for those on a budget.
1. Use social media to spread the word
Social media is a great way to update your followers on new menu items without spending a fortune. You can post across all your channels, add a picture of the food (making sure it’s top-quality), and write a mouth-watering caption to encourage them to give it a try.
You could also consider partnering with your suppliers to increase your reach and get your menu in front of a wider pool of people.
Let’s use an example to demonstrate how it works.
Imagine you’re launching a new burger that includes locally sourced beef. To promote the burger, you could work with your beef supplier to post about it on social media. That way, your menu will reach their followers in addition to your own.
Partnering with local suppliers also shows followers that you’re supporting a local business, which is a great way to build a sense of community and trust amongst your diners. And when people trust your brand, they’re more likely to buy from you.
2. Contact influencers
Reaching out to foodie bloggers and influencers is a cost-effective way to promote your revamped menu items.
But how do you get these people to write or post about your menu?
Many small-scale bloggers, local journalists, or food influencers will write about your business in return for free food. So to get influencers on board, you might want to host an exclusive first-tastings evening.
They can all come along, try the new food, and talk about it online. Whether it’s an article about the food or a social media post of the evening, it gets the word out there about your new menu.
3. Announce the new dishes on your website
People will often head to a restaurant website to look at the menu beforehand. If you add your new menu items on the homepage, it’ll grab their attention and let them know there are some exciting additions to the menu.
Here are a couple of ways you could add this information to your site:
- Main homepage image. Add the new menu items as the main homepage image. That way, people will see the food as soon as they land on your website. You could have a brief description of what the menu items include, and a link to the full menu.
- A banner update. Include a banner across the top or bottom of your site that let’s visitors know you have new and exciting items on your menu. If they click the banner, it’ll take them to the full menu for more information.
4. Offer free samples
Free samples are a great way to introduce your new menu items to potential customers. It can generate interest, improve their dining experience, and encourage them to make a purchase.
Put yourself in their shoes for a second. If you’re dining at a restaurant and they offer you a free sample of a menu item, you’d be pretty chuffed, right? Plus, if it tastes good, you know you can order more and enjoy it as part of your meal!
5. Alert your email list
If you have an email list of subscribers, send a notification to let them know when the new food items are hitting your menu. That way, you generate some interest and excitement around the menu.
When writing the email, think about how you can build as much anticipation as possible.
For instance, your email subject line could be something as simple as ‘Coming soon… 🔥’. Something this vague but interesting could encourage your subscribers to click the email and find out what you’re talking about.
Let Peckwater Brands handle the heavy lifting
If you’re thinking about expanding your menu or finding new ways to reach more customers, you might want to consider launching a virtual brand. A virtual brand is an online-only restaurant that operates from your existing kitchen. You don’t need new space, equipment, or staff to make it happen.
And if you work with a delivery franchising partner like Peckwater Brands (that’s us — hi 👋), you don’t have to worry about creating a menu or marketing your food. We’ll handle all of that, so you can focus on preparing the food and growing your business.
Find out more about working with the team at Peckwater, or contact us to get the ball rolling!