4 Ways Restaurants Can Build Election Season Promotions

In just a few short weeks the mid-term nationally elections will be held (November 6th). Likely, you have been forced to assiduously avoid discussing your own political feelings with your guests over the past couple of years. Good news is, this election provides a rare opportunity to harness political interest for your own good. With national interest at record highs for this year’s mid-terms, why not run some fun promotions to encourage folks to visit you before and, after the election?

Washington Post Voter Enthusiasm 2018 (Source: Washington Post)

With that in mind we have four ideas you can turn into election season promotions at your location. You can do nothing and watch all those folks with stickers go elsewhere or you can work now for a couple of weeks and make it fun.

Vote Your Conscience

Have guests vote on their favorite dish.

Take your top two selling items and on election night let guests know they are voting with their dollars. You can give them “party” names and have some fun with it. Anyone that “votes” with their order is eligible to win a prize. Count delivery orders as “absentee ballots” and let your followers online know who won.

This promo also nets you some email addresses or text numbers, because guests have to provide one to be notified if they win. Depending on your volume, if you provide a $50 gift card as the prize you could likely get 50 email addresses. At a $1 per address that’s a steal and you made election night fun for every guest.

You can run this just on election night or during the election week to allow more folks to vote and collect more of that valuable contact information.

Freebies with Your “I Voted” Sticker

Reward guests with ‘I voted stickers’ with free food or drink.

The simplest of these ideas, but small token items stay with people. Pick your giveaway and make it small, but a perceived value. For example: give guests a free soft beverage or maybe an appetizer if guests all have “I Voted” stickers at their table.

The message here is your place is where anyone that votes gets rewarded. You’re not taking sides. Instead you are fulfilling your ancient role as a meeting house. Once the election is over and the votes are in, declare your restaurant as a place where everyone who votes is welcome. Kitschy yes, but why not? It’s true. Your place IS where people gather and hear other opinions, share in their community and celebrate their lives.

Plate of the Union

Create fun menu items based off presidential names and personalities.

This one is just plain fun. On or before the day of the election, create several menu items with fun former POTUS names. It doesn’t even have to be new items. Just create a menu for the lead up to the election. Have fun and keep it G-rated if you are a family place, but no more than PG rated under any circumstances.

For example Teddy Roosevelt was known for being a bit of a hothead. So, offer a special hot sauce on wings that is Roosevelt’s Hot Head wings. Another one could be about Warren G. Harding. He wrote bawdy poems to his paramour, so his could be a “Harding For You” Martini that is served a little dirty. You can give origin stories to the items and teach people a history lesson at the same time. It’s light and easy to execute. But by being relevant with your in-store marketing you make memorable experiences for your guests

Election Watch Party

Host an election watch party at your bar or restaurant.

This idea is especially interesting for our sports-themed operators. You have all those TVs and people will be fascinated by the outcomes. Intersperse a news channel that is covering the election night action on your TV assignments for the night. You can even run the sound. We suggest you air a national outlet like ABC, NBC or CBS for the most middle of the road coverage. Put the sound on after the polls close on the east coast and watch it all unfold.

The similarities to sports is no coincidence. This is a bare knuckled fight between the parties and your guests will want to watch it unfold, just like the want to watch the Super Bowl. Do some election night specials. For example, give out tickets and pick a winner every time you hear the term swing state or purple. Then prize that person. Tag a wholesaler for some fun giveaways and your promotion is a hit.