Where to promote your Skinny/Low-calorie Menus

Social Media:

Restaurants are using skinny and low-calorie menus to attract more women and social media’s largest user population is women so it seems like a match made in heaven to promote using social media. The goal of the social media campaign is to raise awareness to a large population of the new menu options.

It is important that the person managing your social media, whether outsourced or managed in-house, uses language that is consistent with the brand. Thinking of the brand as a character can illustrate this more clearly. For example, a brand that emulates George Clooney will have a completely different voice than a brand that is more in-tune with Bugs Bunny.

Social media can also be used to gain guest testimonials. When Kona Grill debuted the Skinny Cocktail menu, guests posted on their Facebook page things like, “Oh MY GOD thank you thank you thank you for the skinny cosmos! SO freakin’ excited to go to Kona tonight,” and “HEAVEN to a dietitian!”

Traditional Media

Focus on social media is increasing, and it is tempting to let traditional media initiatives decrease. However, the opportunities magazines (online and in print) provide are essential to build trust and reinforce promotions. An ad featuring a promotion is a great occasion to let the potential guest know what they should expect when dining at an establishment. The language, imagery, and layout used in an ad should mirror the experience of the restaurant. For example, referring to a margarita as a “marg” conveys that the restaurant is more casual. Lifestyle photography can be used to target specific age demographics, and subconsciously clues the viewer in to the types of people that a restaurant is targeting.

Getting press is also a great way to communicate new promotions to a target audience. Most magazines provide editorial calendars months before the issue is scheduled to print. Restaurants can use this with skinny or low-calorie promotions by finding topics that relate, like weight loss, healthy living, or women-targeted issues, and contact the magazine to be featured.


Restaurants should focus on selling the skinny and low-calorie menu items to guests in the store. Place the promotions on table tents, train servers and bartenders to suggest the new menu items to guests, and use menu inserts to ensure that the consumer will purchase the new items. For more on how to use table tents, please click here.

Do you need help with promotions for special menus? Please, contact us!

Test stores and limited time offerings

When adding new offerings to the menu, we suggest testing first. Some brands test by adding items in specific stores first, while others engage in a company wide limited-time offering, and then permanently add the most popular and profitable items to the menu.

Many companies test using both of these methods, deciding which to use based on the product being tested. The major difference between the two is that when introducing items into specific stores first, items are usually added to the regular menu and promoted through traditional and new menu outlets. When a restaurant opts to offer a limited-time menu, the menu is actually a promotional item with new items, not a menu.

Using test stores

Some brands use test stores in very rural areas, so word of mouth doesn’t spread too quickly about their new menu offerings. Others use test stores in large markets to gain a larger perspective of new items. When restaurants use test stores, they are usually looking for 4 things:

  • Can the kitchen keep up with demand?
  • Will the new product sell? Are people making special visits just for the new item?
  • How can new items be made utilizing existing ingredients, and minimizing new ingredients necessary?
  • How do new items affect restaurant profitability?

Limited-time offerings

Limited-time offerings (LTOs) are a great option for seasonal products and to react to guest feedback. Use table tents to showcase LTOs when testing out new drinks or desserts, and menu inserts to promote the LTOs that are meal based.

Companies also use LTOs to bring back popular items and gain sales and create hype. McDonald’s offers the McRib as a LTO, and incorporates the offer into a larger marketing strategy. In 2005, McDonald’s started the “McRib Farewell Tour” while simultaneously creating a petition website to “Save the McRib”. McDonald’s made the McRib something special, and engaged their customers to join a cause with the LTO.

It is important to consider the impact of a LTO on the brand. The LTO must be aligned with the menu design, while at the same time serving as a marketing piece, and matching the rest of the marketing collateral. In the end, all print and digital pieces surrounding the LTO should be a hybrid of the brand marketing collateral and the printed menu.

Do you need help planning a limited time offer or test menu? Please let us know, we’d love to help!

Branded table tents

As we mentioned Wednesday, table tents must have the same look and feel as the rest of the marketing materials that a restaurant uses. Kona Grill uses their table tents for seasonal promotion, and continues the theme in their email campaigns. For example the table tent below is used to promote their “Slim Chance” menu which offers low calorie food and drinks for a limited time. Although the table tent insert uses different imagery than the email campaign (also below) they feature the same style of photography, and the same layout for the campaign name. The style of the [slim] chance is mirrored on the Kona Grill website, in the regular menus, and on the Facebook page.

Table Tent

Email Campaign

Table tent uses

The table is the point of purchase (POP) in most restaurants. This makes the table tent a valuable piece of advertising real estate. A table tent narrowly  targets  a restaurant’s market – the guest has walked through  the door and is sitting at a table, prepared to spend money. From a restaurateur perspective, it can be difficult to decide how to use this marketing tool. We’ve outlined a few options for table tent usage.

  1. Food and drink promotions. Table tents are a great way to introduce or test new menu items without reprinting the entire menu. Many table tent options are designed to make changing out specific promotions easy and quick.
  2. Dessert. Put the idea of dessert in a guests mind right when they sit down, and keep the idea in front of them their entire meal. The guest is more likely to order a dessert if they are constantly reminded of the sweet treat a restaurant is promoting. This works especially well during slower times to entice guests to spend more when restaurants aren’t as focused on turning tables quickly. Need more information on spending per minute? Click here.
  3. Advertise events. Restaurants can also use table tents to communicate when happy hour times, lunch or late-night specials, or special events are happening throughout the week, month, or season.

A few things to keep in mind when using table tents:

  • Great photography sells. If a brand frequently uses photography in advertising, email campaigns, and the menu, it is cost effective to use the same images in table tent materials, in addition to helping align the table tent design with your overall brand.
  • Captive audiences. People look at table tents when they sit, after they have ordered or if they need something to keep them occupied. This is why drinks and dessert are great options for table tents – drinks are ordered throughout, and dessert is ordered at the very end.
  • Guests have time to look at table tents, they can read copy, and refer back to it; such as a call to action to join your social media pages. Copy can be used to give more details, but needs to be used with caution in order to prevent overwhelming the guest.

Do you need help with table tent design? Contact us to get started!