If you were out of the loop this past weekend, a Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse in Ann Arbor, MI ran a pretty big promotion: Patrons of that particular steakhouse who are University of Michigan fans (who are located within minutes of each other) were able to get a discount from their bill based from the points difference if Michigan won against Rutgers that day. And since they won by 75 points, the policy stated that the customers can win the maximum 50% off their bill.
And guess what? That restaurant is booked until Thursday.
But what really happened wasn’t so much that social media works or that discounts work (especially for a high-end restaurant such as Ruth’s Chris), but that local sports marketing can play a big impact.
People love to support their local teams that they love, whether you like it or not.
Regardless of whether you like college football, pro football, or sports of any sort, what happened with this steakhouse this past weekend is only further evidence that people really, truly loves sports. Some restaurants are home to this University, some home to other universities, and some larger places (with multiple TVs) will try to cater to as much fans as possible.
If you start noticing that people are wearing their sports jerseys on certain days of the week (especially weekends), keep tally of what teams they support and start holding events based on which of the teams your patrons support the most. Of course if you follow a specific sports team in particular, that would work too.
The results get more different the more local you go.
While sports promotions within restaurants isn’t huge, the reason why the Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse promotion was so successful (or so disastrous depending on whom you read) because the steakhouse, as stated earlier, is so close to the University. But you can also use this to your advantage.
If you are located within certain schools, try coordinating with your nearest elementary, middle, and high schools in your area as a way to promoting your restaurant. Whether it’s a car wash, a spirit night fundraiser, or just because–local schools can be a great way to gain other demographics for your restaurant.