Give your guests a gift that gives back to you…

We discovered an idea maybe 15 years ago that may be the best marketing idea we’ve ever conceived. We call it the Red Envelope giveaway. Here’s how it works. We actually print red envelopes that have our logo on the front. On the flap, it has instructions in large bold type. It starts with “Do Not Open This Envelope!” Here’s how it works. Each sealed envelope holds a card that lists a prize. Free glass of wine. Free appetizer. A free dessert. Dinner for one. Dinner for two. Dinner for four. All the way to dinner for two every month of the year! That’s the grand prize. Now, when we print the cards that list the gifts, we don’t print 500 of the grand prize. If we are giving away 2,000 Red Envelopes, maybe we print 15. There are way more of the smaller prizes. However, it doesn’t work to just print the small gifts. You want people to win so you can publicize what a great game it is. The trick is this. Every time a guest Dines with you between The day after Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve, they get one envelope. Not one for everyone at the table, one per check. They do not open it. Then, starting on New Year’s day, they bring the unopened envelope in and they are seated for dinner. The server opens the envelope and announces the prize. The cutoff date is the middle of February, excluding the Three days around valentines day. They can only open one envelope per visit, so people with multiple envelopes end up end up coming numerous times to get their rewards. One year we had great guests who got 17 envelopes. All of them were free appetizers or desserts! We bought them dinner for being great customers!

             The trick is to stick to the rules. People who show up and want to open ten envelopes at once are told “no”. Guests can only redeem one per table. All of the rules are printed on the envelope. You want to be firm, but fair. When the end date arrives and people show up with a red envelope they just found, we thank them for being great customers and tell them we wish them better luck next time. One year someone called us in July and said that the opened a red envelope that they found in their car and it was  a grand prize winner and would we honor it? We kindly said no, but we’d see them next year.

             Why is this such a great promotion? First, it drives traffic in the December time frame. Every envelope is a winner and has value, so no one gets a blank. Then, when things slow down after the Holidays in the cold of January and February, people are coming in to redeem their prizes. The last week before the expiration date, people are calling in and begging for reservations. People who have a great prize, like dinner for two, tell their friends. When someone wins a big prize, we ring a bell and announce to everyone what just happened. If they agree, take their picture and send it out in an email. “The Smiths Just won dinner every month of the year for Two!” are you holding one of the 14 remaining big winners. It’s a little Like Charlie and the Chocolate factory, but you gut the prize.

             It’s a lot of planning, but we have you covered. We’ve done this before. Let us know when you want to get started and we’ll get to work. By the way, this is a project that you plan for in August, Not three days before Thanksgiving. But you knew that.

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