Marketing during the COVID-19 Crisis

Updated: Mar 23

Many Americans cannot leave their homes, some are working from home, some unemployed, most are concerned about food. It is important to keep these things in mind when approaching your marketing.

Offer incentives. Do this in the form of discounts on gift cards and coupons. Validate through the end of March, update and extend the valid date as necessary based on government restrictions and your financial situation.

Gift Card Specials. Discount these during this time. The deeper the discount you can afford, the better. These should be valid to use at anytime. You are encouraging customers to purchase while on sale (to boost your revenue) and use either immediately or after it's blown over and they can dine-in.

EXAMPLES:

  • All gift cards purchased through March 31st, will receive 10% off. So this means a $50 gift card can be purchased at $45.

  • Start e-gift cards, if you don't already have in place. See our post on marketing.

Discount pickup orders. This is important in driving people to pickup, rather than order through a 3rd party, with the purpose of more revenue in your pocket. By no means are we suggesting you not offer 3rd party delivery. These can go hand in hand.


Discount for essential workers. Certain industries are working overtime and are commuting to and from work, picking up a warm meal for them and/or family can be a huge relief during this time. EXAMPLES:

  • 20% off orders for healthcare, first responders (must show company id for discount)

  • 10% off orders for grocery , bank, gas station employees (must show company id or name tag for discount)

  • Other essential workers: law enforcement, food & agriculture, public works, transportation and logistics, military and DoD personnel, government contractors. View a full listing here.

Free Appetizer. Limit the options to the cheapest appetizers. Choose a dollar/entree amount that will be profitable. EXAMPLES:

  • Free Appetizer with the purchase of $50 or more

  • Free appetizer with the purchase of 2 or more entrees

  • Free appetizer with the order of 2 or more alcoholic drinks. This only applies to current holders. If you are a licensee who is able to sell to go with food, thanks to the new ABC relief put out, this is a great way to sell any alcohol you have.

Free Dessert. Limit the options to the cheapest desserts. Choose a dollar/entree amount that will be profitable. EXAMPLES:

  • Free dessert with the purchase of $50 or more

  • Free dessert with the purchase of 2 or more entrees

Free Children's Meal. Make sure the children's meals are affordable to provide. Limit the meal as necessary.

EXAMPLES:

  • Free kid's grilled cheese with the purchase of an adult entree

  • Free kid's pasta with the purchase of an adult entree

Two-for-One Items. If you can afford to do it, offer your cheap entrees at a two for one price.

EXAMPLES:

  • Free kid's grilled cheese with the purchase of an adult entree

  • Buy one get one free on selected (cheap entrees)

  • Buy one entree $15+ and receive a free entree (select entrees)

Discounted Delivery. If you already offer delivery services in-house, you can give a discount for direct delivery orders. Radius and minimums should be within your capabilities.

EXAMPLES:

  • Free delivery (within a 5 mile radius with a minimum $40)

  • $5 delivery (within a 5 mile radius with a minimum of $20)

Rewards Program. If you don't have one already, you can start one. If you have an existing program offer more.

EXAMPLES:

  • Earn double reward on pickup orders

  • Bonus rewards for pickup orders through March 31st (move the date back based on guidelines)

  • Bonus rewards for every $100 in orders placed today through March 31st (move the date back based on guidelines)

Communicate. Keep communicating. Most people are on social media, the web and email. Be sure everyone knows you are open for business.

Use Social Media. Communicate via social media, your website and emails to your customers. Make sure to use relevant and trending hashtags.

EXAMPLES: #COVIDcarryout #CoronaCarryOut #ContactFreeCarryOut #ContactFreeDelivery #CarryoutWednesdays (EVERY WEDNESDAY) #SupportRestaurants #DiningBonds #KeepCalmAndCarryOut #KeepCalmAndOrderIn

Email your customers. Most people are online during this time. Connect with them this way. If you don't already collect emails from customers, good way to do this is from your website, for them to subscribe to offers and specials or through the use of a rewards program. You can do this manually or by using an ESP (email service provider) platform.

EXAMPLES:

  • Send an email first letting them know about the steps you are taking to comply with the COVID-19 orders

  • Send an email letting them know your business hours and offerings during this time

  • Send emails with special offers and discounts.

  • Send emails with relevant content "Local store out of food items. Don't worry, we are open for business and offering (insert promo here)."

Post signs. Make it abundantly clear that you are open for business.

EXAMPLES:

  • Put yard signs outside near the street

  • Put special easy to read from the street signs at the front of your restaurant

Distribute flyers at open stores. People are still trafficking grocery stores, banks and gas stations.

EXAMPLES:

  • Take, print and take flyers to grocery stores and pass them out.

  • Leave flyers at the entry/exit and each checkout.

  • Leave flyers at open businesses (hospitals, banks, gas stations)


Alcoholic drink offers. With CA ABC's new regulatory relief, many licensees can now sell alcohol to go, via drive thru, delivery, pickup, with or without food and can fill and refill customer containers. EXAMPLES:

  • Free appetizer with the order of 2 or more alcoholic drinks. This only applies to current holders.

  • Bring your own Growler or container with top (no holes) and fill up!

HELP ME! If you need help implementing any programs or initiatives, including signing up, analytics, social media, internal or external communications, graphic design for e-gift cards, new menus, flyers etc. we are equipped to help.

We are creating posts as we receive questions and concerns from our clients. Please email us with your questions, concerns or ideas and we will respond!

#smallbusiness #smallbusinesshelp #smallbusinessfinances #COVID-19 #coronavirus