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3 ways to capitalize on TVs in restaurants

Humans are, by nature, sociable creatures—that’s just part of the reasons restaurants continue to thrive. People get together at eateries to begin new romances, catch up with old friends and celebrate big moments. Because of this, restaurants have something in common with television—people also bond over big season premiere or finales, awards shows, sporting events and other on-screen happenings. Why not, then, combine the two and use TV as a marketing tool for a restaurant?

Eighty-two percent of consumers say that they’re likely or somewhat likely to watch TV on the weekdays between 6 and 9 p.m., according to a survey conducted by Technomic in partnership with DIRECTV. Additionally, 31% note that they’re very likely or somewhat likely to watch TV at a restaurant or bar during this time frame. This might sound like a significant discrepancy, but consider the many restaurants that don’t currently have TVs—perhaps these consumers would watch more TV at restaurants and bars if more locations offered TV.

Additionally, more than half of people surveyed agreed that they like to watch TV in a group setting, like with family and friends. And finally, 42% of consumers noted that they agreed that the idea of watching TV while drinking alcohol beverages in restaurant or bar sounded appealing to them though nearly half said that food specials or discounts were important if they were going to watch TV in a restaurant or bar between meals (or during snacking hours).

With all this in mind, the question then becomes: How can a restaurant capitalize on TV use to bring more customers into an establishment?

Take advantage of televised events

Sports events are a no-brainer—bars have been cashing in on being the place to watch the NBA finals, college football games or the World Cup—not to mention local sports games—for quite some time. However, sporting isn’t appropriate for all establishments, so think about what other events might work well. The Academy Awards is a big one, particularly for a higher-end restaurant, as well as other awards shows, such as the Grammys, Golden Globes, Emmys or Tonys. Invite guests to dress up and “walk the red carpet” for an Oscars-themed event. Political events are popular, too, especially during a presidential election year, as are the season- or series-ending episodes of super-popular TV shows. Don’t be afraid to target a specific demographic, such as offering up a “Ladies Night Out” special for the season finale of a show like “The Bachelor.”

Create promotions

As previously noted, customers appreciate a promotion that ties into a TV event. Use this chance to be creative, rather than just giving 10% off during a local sports game. Customers appreciate cleverness, so instead, develop a campaign that gives patrons in the bar a certain percentage off for every touchdown the local team scores (up to a certain point, naturally). For award shows, invite customers to bring in completed ballots for a special promotion, with an extra prize for the those who predict all the categories correctly.

Be family-friendly

Don’t stray from the message of being a place to bring the kids just because there’s a sporting event that would draw a rowdy (but profitable) crowd. If a restaurant’s prime demographic includes millennials and Gen Xers, many of whom have young children, it could be advantageous to broadcast kid-friendly TV shows, particularly if the restaurant offers individual TVs at each table. A parent can often be persuaded to visit a restaurant where they can have an adult conversation with a spouse or friend while a child is occupied.

Utilizing televisions as part of a marketing strategy isn’t new—restaurants have been doing so for decades. But with new consumer demands and preferences, it can be helpful for operators to take a closer look at who their customers are and cater to those diners’ preferences. Showing kid-friendly shows or offering individual screens for kids dining with parents, creating promotions and promoting special TV events are all great ways to get more diners in seats.

This post is sponsored by DIRECTV

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