Restaurant Marketing - 5 Ways to Promote New Menu Items Without Discounting

Want customers to try the newest items on your restaurant menu? Here are five ways to promote new menu items without cutting profits.

Is it time to add new menu items or introduce a whole new line up?

No matter how delicious, getting people to try new restaurant menu items can be challenging. Many restaurant patrons would like to try something new but fear straying from the familiar. Here are five restaurant marketing ideas that will help you create demand for new restaurant menu items without discounting.

Restaurant marketing poses many inherent challenges, from turning occasional diners into loyal customers to attracting more members of their target audience to creating demand for items newly added to a restaurant’s menu.

There are many reasons why a restaurant may need to add or drop items from its menu, even items regularly ordered by diners. For instance, your restaurant menu may need to have items added (or dropped) when:

  • Demand simply doesn’t match minimum levels of demand needed for profitability
  • Ingredients become more costly or scarce
  • Some type of nutritional regulation or another type of ordinance renders it necessary
  • Your restaurant is evolving into a more targeted model or re-branding itself

But let’s face it: some people don’t like change, and that may include members of your staff as well as some of your restaurant customers. One of the reasons that some restaurant patrons will routinely order only one or two things from your menu is that they found one or two things they like, and they don’t want to risk trying other menu items they may not like as well.

If it’s time to change your restaurant menu and add new items, here are five ways to create demand for your new restaurant options without discounting.

Promoting New Menu Items – 5 Ways to Create Demand without Destroying Profits

•   Hold a free tasting for your wait staff, and pay them for attending.

Who has more ability to do some suggestive selling to undecided restaurant patrons than their server? Since your staff will be routinely asked “what’s good,” or what they would choose, why wouldn’t you ensure they have firsthand knowledge about new (if not all) your restaurant’s menu items?

By the way, this is also a good way test new menu items, get feedback, and make any changes or improvements needed prior to launch in your restaurant!

•   Provide a free mini version or sample to restaurant patrons.

This could be a great value-add to happy hours or a way to thank restaurant patrons in an unexpected way. Create miniature or tasting-size versions of new menu items and provide an offer or incentive for restaurant customers that order full-size versions at a future visit, provided that it occurs within a set period of time.

By the way, these types of offers can also be an inducement that brings customers in more frequently – base your offer expiration dates on the average time between customer visits.

•   Incentivize suggestive selling.

Provide incentives for staff who up-sell customers on trying the new menu items during your launch period.

•   Publicize the launch and popularity of new menu items using reviews.

All of the people who try your new restaurant menu items during their introductory period (including your employees) should be asked to complete a short satisfaction survey about the new item that includes how many stars they would award the item (up to 5) and an open-ended question that lets them describe the new item. Use your ratings and reviews to publicize during the launch period on your website and in your email, social media, SMS text message and other marketing.

•   Hold an exclusive open house or tasting event for influencers or your best customers.

People like to feel important and special. Close the doors of your restaurant or close a room off from the general public and invite community influencers (such as the people in your business networking groups, civic or city organizations, etc.) or a collection of your most loyal customers to a V.I.P. tasting event featuring your new restaurant menu items.

Get their feedback including restaurant menu reviews and comments and use them to market the new items on your restaurant’s menu on your website, email newsletter, social media updates and text message marketing. Create tent cards for your tables or inserts for your menu which include early feedback, 5-star reviews and comments from those who loved the new menu item.

You might also like: 3 Ways to Get Restaurant Word of Mouth Marketing


Revamping your restaurant point of sale with a custom restaurant credit card processing solution could be another way to improve the customer experience and your restaurant’s efficiency. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us for a free assessment of your current restaurant card processor – we’ll be happy to make recommendations and let you know whether you could be saving money with lower credit card processing rates or better equipment.

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