Mother’s Day, lest we forget and receive a prickly phone call the day after, is fast approaching.
Worth a whopping £290 million last year, Mother's Day sees sons, daughters, and dutiful husbands whose kids lack the wherewithal to buy their own gifts spending an average of £58 on their mothers.
Needless to say, Mother’s Day is a great opportunity for even the smallest business to boost earnings and raise its profile with a clever promotional offer or two, especially if you’re in the cafe or restaurant business.
But what if you’ve been too busy balancing books, making lattes and planning rotas to brainstorm marketing ideas?
Well, worry not — your friends at RotaCloud are here to help! We’ve prepared ten quick and easy Mother’s Day promotional ideas for independently owned cafes and restaurants that are sure to set tongues wagging and put a smile on many a mum's face.
With a little bit of creativity, Mother’s Day 2018 could be hugely lucrative for your small business, both on the day itself and in the weeks that follow as buzz spreads about the cool promotion you ran.
1. Mums eat free
It’s a simple enough idea, but running a promotion in which mums dine for free is a great way to encourage footfall and show your business off to new customers.
The promotion could be as simple as offering certain dishes for free or opening up your entire menu for Mum to pick from and enjoy gratis, provided that an additional dish is purchased (she’s likely to be dining with someone, after all).
You’ll also have the opportunity to recoup costs by selling drinks and sweets alongside any meals given away, so be sure to promote them widely and make them look extra appealing.
2. Extras just for Mum
If you’re concerned that giving meals away for free would put too much strain on your business or devalue your dishes in the eyes of the customer, then consider adding a little extra value instead.
Offering mums dining with their family a complimentary glass of bubbly will make them feel extra special.
Laying on a free muffin or slice of cake is also likely to go down extremely well with Mum — plus, those dining with her will undoubtedly be tempted to join her, meaning an extra sale for you.
3. Limited-edition food & drinks
If seasonal offers and flash sales have taught us anything, it’s that people are more likely to make a purchase when they know that an item or deal won't be around for long.
Try adding limited-edition dishes, drinks or sweets to your menu on Mother’s Day or in the lead-up to it. Regular customers will be excited by the arrival of something new, while those joining you for the first time will be tempted to partake in the spirit of the occasion.
If you're pushed for time, simply adapt an existing dish to give it a Mother's Day twist — just be sure to make it stand out from the rest of your menu.
4. Run a 'Meals for Mum-isms' contest
Instead of focusing on just the mums themselves, why not invite all of your customers to celebrate Mother's Day by sharing the best bits of 'mum wisdom' they've ever received in return for the chance to win a prize?
Customers could write their 'mum-isms' down on cards along with their contact details (a great opportunity to invite people to join your mailing list), or you could direct them to share their nuggets of motherly wisdom on your business' Facebook or Twitter page for the chance to win.
At last, your mum’s advice about cooling yourself down with a hot cup of tea, or finding a husband based on a man's choice of shoes could actually be worth something!
5. Make a donation on every mum’s behalf
Fancy doing something a little more selfless this Mother's Day? Consider running a promotion wherein you make a small donation for every mum whose family treats her with a visit to your cafe or restaurant.
Choose a charity that focuses on women’s issues (groups such as Refuge, Breast Cancer Now or The Malala Fund could be good places to start), and offer to make a donation based on the amount a patron spends with you.
Alternatively, you could simply pop a jar on your counter and drop a pound coin in for every mum who comes through your door with her family — chances are, people will throw in a few pound coins of their own too.
6. Dice discounts for Mum
What’s more exciting than giving Mum a discounted meal on Mother’s Day? Rolling the dice to see how big a discount she gets!
When it’s time to hand over the bill, let Mum roll a special Mother’s Day dice (it’s entirely up to you if you make this pink, fluffy, or covered in obscene amounts of glitter) and knock 10% off her meal if she rolls a 1, 20% off for a 2, and so on.
It’s a simple game to play, but it’s sure to create a lot of buzz in your cafe as your other patrons look on to see how great a deal Mum is about to land herself — and those treating her wait to see how much they're about to save.
7. Embrace brunch & afternoon tea
Brunch is the perfect meal for special occasions like Mother's Day. From the business' point of view, it’s short enough to encourage relatively quick table turnover, and for the customer, it's affordable enough to allow them to treat their mother while still having a slight air of extravagance about it.
If you can’t offer a full brunch experience, then consider adding afternoon tea to your menu just for Mother’s Day. Things like scones and finger sandwiches are easy to prepare in advance and always go down well when paired with a nice cup of tea or carefully crafted cappuccino.
8. Offer the whole package
Be every thrifty son or daughter's hero this Mother's Day by offering your patrons everything they need to treat Mum in one, affordable package.
Work with other local businesses to keep costs down and give your customers the option of adding things like fresh flowers and personalised message cards to your food, drinks and sweets. Customers on a budget will love getting extra bang for their buck, while their mothers will come away feeling truly pampered.
9. Run a Mother’s Day raffle
Invite patrons to enter their mother into a raffle for a chance to win a free meal, dessert or gift on a future visit. This could be done in-store with paper tickets, or by asking your visitors to follow you on social media and respond to a specific post to put their mums in the running.
If you want to generate even more buzz, you could invite diners to upload a photo of themselves enjoying their food or drinks with Mum at your cafe and tag your business in it.
As well as the winning mum(s) coming back for more (and most likely bringing people with them), using social media as the method of entry will net your business a little extra online exposure.
10. Free return meal for Mum
Mother's Day promotions are a great way to turn a profit, but it's important to think beyond the day itself.
Use the day to showcase your business and give customers a reason to come back even on less significant dates. A great way to do this is to present mums who dine with you a voucher for a free coffee, dessert or even main meal on her next visit.
As well as pretty much guaranteeing yourself a returning customer, the majority of voucher-toting mums will bring (paying) friends or family with them when they return, and will be more likely to introduce your business to their friends.
The great thing about days like Mother's Day is that, although they create an opportunity to promote your business, they're shorter-lived and slightly lower profile than key selling periods like Christmas.
Use this to your advantage by trying out some slightly more creative ideas and measuring the effects — you might even come up with a winning formula that you can retool and reuse at other points in the year.
Want to use social media to support your Mother's Day marketing efforts? Check out our low-cost social media tactics for more inspiration.
This article was updated in February 2018. It was first published in March 2017.