Sunday, July 5, 2015

Kid’s Marketing:  Menus and strategies to engage, entertain and educate.
CHARLIE-kids menu.jpg

By Linda Duke, CEO, Duke Marketing, LLC.
Children's menus, coloring menus, and menu placemats are all great for encouraging family dining and young diners - as well as saving your business name on the customer's refrigerator for weeks or months!
In many cases the person making the meal decisions in the family are kids!  So how do you create a kid’s menu?
Kid’s menus should be designed to engage, entertain and educate. Engaging kid’s menus get families to stay longer and encourage them to return more often.

Create a placemat menu which is two-sided. Side one could feature word searches, mazes, puzzles and counting games. Side two is the coloring sheet, and this side should be personalized to include your menu and logo.
Other kid-friendly marketing strategies include kid’s pizza making.  Invite area elementary school children to learn about pizza and give each an opportunity to make their own. Not only does this create an emotional connection to the pizza brand, but kid’s spread the word and will choose their favorite pizza making place instead of the competition. 

Sponsoring sports teams and hosting team events and fundraisers are the very best ways to get the next generation introduced and excited about your pizza brand.  Contact area youth sports groups and invite them to use your restaurant as their “team headquarters”.  Every youth team needs a place for kid’s to sign-up, to receive their team uniforms, and after game parties.   A little research to find the team contacts and invite them into enjoy pizza is very little effort for the amount of return that will be garnered by the team all season.  
Coloring contests are also a good way to engage children.  Provide a theme for kid’s to draw and a specific time period, and offer a prize.  This contest could coincide with your restaurant’s anniversary and the kids could draw what your brand means to them.  After hanging the works of art on the wall, pick a date and time to announce the winner and invite all the kid’s in for a cookie or treat and celebrate the winner.  Some restaurants have kids create an advertisement and the winner’s work is placed in the local newspaper to feature the child’s work. 
If creating a Kids Area in the restaurant, keep in mind the noise level.  Be sure the kid’s area is far enough away to not bother other patrons.  Be sure to have a “clean-up policy” posted that tells kid’s when they are done playing with any of the games to be sure to put them back.   Also, be sure to have staff keep an eye on the area for any trouble and for cleanliness.
Kid’s Birthday Parties are also a great idea and easy to execute for pizza operators.  Create a party guide flier for parents that gives a price per child and for how many children.  For instance, a small birthday of 6-8 children, would include how many cheese pizza’s and pitchers of soda?  A larger party with kids and parents would be MORE per child and include more pizzas and soda. By providing a birthday party flier and putting reservation information and details on it for guests, will generate bookings.  It’s a good idea to have a birthday calendar book for crew and track when parties are coming in and be sure to staff accordingly. 

Ingredients Needed:
  • An all inclusive birthday package.
  • Reserved tables.
  • A special birthday kid’s menu.
  • Kid’s cups.
  • Desserts.
  • Balloons/ helium tank.
  • In store signage.
  • Flier that gives detail about the program.
  • Email blast.
  • Flyers to put in family friendly locations.
  • Someone in charge of birthday reservations.
  • Staff to work the event.
  • Something special to give the birthday kid.
Student Lunches are a huge deal if a pizza operator lands one school or several schools to provide lunch to children. Giving student lunches for a reduced price on campus is a great opportunity to get involved in the schools in your community.  One of the best ways to win a student lunch contract is to appeal to kids!  Also, reach out to the teachers and provide pizza on teacher work days or for a faculty meeting.  School lunch one day a month for hundreds of children can help your brand stay in front of tomorrow’s customers! 

Partnering with the Library also brings in children and is good for business.  Offering a complimentary bookmark with free kid’s meal attached for the library to give out to kids is a great way to drive trial.  Find out if the library has kid’s reading times, and offer to bring in pizza for kids and parents to the library, or offer free kid’s pizza coupons for those children that attended. 
How do you find waitstaff who will be able to work well with children? Why not audition them!  Invite a group of kids in during a slow time (late afternoon) and have a few of your potential team members engage the children with games and pizza making.  Those employees that show passion and excitement for working with children are best!  Interview employees that have done babysitting and find those crew that enjoy being and working with children.  Don’t assign anyone that does not have some level of excitement to work with the children.  Ask your crew for volunteers and get them involved in creating your kid’s marketing programs. 
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