Crisis Marketing

Collection of things to Help During this Crisis


Generate Customer Orders On-Demand with VIP Club Text Messages

Time: Accumulative day-by-day
Effectiveness: Immediate and Long-term
Return: Extremely high

This is my favourite strategy, being the most effective solution for short- and long-term customer loyalty.

It works by inviting your existing customers to join your VIP Club to get exclusive, special offers and free upgrades. Customers opt-in by sending you a special text message from their phones.

You’re then building the most reliable, most immediate and most direct method to reach your loyal fans that are waiting for your promotions and offers. You send offers by text messages directly to the list. Customers redeem the offers the same day.

Offer messages can be sent as needed or scheduled in advance:

  • By one get one…
  • Free drink with any…
  • Get $3 off when you order…
  • Save 20% this week on…
  • Use “this word” to get…
  • Did you know…
  • Pickup Exclusive offer…
  • VIPs ONLY: Free Upgrade on…

Normally, customers would have to show the text message to redeem the offer, but during self-isolation and social distancing, the use of a special code-word or text reply is simple enough to get more customer orders coming in within hours or minutes.

A text-message VIP Club of your customers basically gives restaurant owners the ability to create customer orders on-demand without expensive and time-consuming traditional advertising.

To learn more and sign up, head over to our text message marketing app website at

Gift Certificates

Manage Cash Flow with Gift Certificates

Time: 60 minutes
Effectiveness: Long-term
Return: High

We don’t know how long the pandemic will last, but be sure – it will end. In the meantime, you need to pay mortgages, rent, wages and food costs.

To generate cash flow now, start selling gift certificates and cards now, even at a discount*. When it’s safe to go out again, people will feel liberated and want to celebrate with activities they’ve missed – like eating out at their favourite restaurant. With gift certificates in hand, they will gladly flock back.

Many digital point-of-sale platforms already have this capability, like Square and TouchBistro, so check and see how to set it up on your system.

If you don’t use that, you can work gift certificates using these tactics:

  • Go digital at
  • Use delivery and pickup drivers to deliver physical cards and certificates inside order bags
  • Get an offer on (but don’t forget about leveraging each order)
  • Go old-school and print your own gift certificates
  • If you have physical gift cards, use Kijiji, Ebay and Amazon to sell and distribute them online
  • Use your own website’s ordering system to create trackable gift certificates as products

* A 10-year study by First Data revealed that 72% of gift card recipients spent more than the face value of the gift card.

Revise the menu

Revise Your Menu for Efficiency and Safety

Time: Varies from restaurant
Effectiveness: Immediate and Long-term
Return: Moderate to high

Now that everyone has to get delivery or pick up their orders, wait times have become a huge deciding factor on where and who to order from.

Delivery services are being spread thin to service the vast number of kitchen and customers, and the number of drivers willing to expose themselves day-to-day is only getting fewer. Even pickup orders are becoming a concern as people need to isolate and distance more and more.

Your menu options can influence the delivery and pickup process. Revise your menu to consider these factors:

  • How fast can each dish be prepared, so as to reduce at-door wait times?
  • Which dishes are most popular and will attract more orders?
  • Which dishes have the greatest profit margin, so to reduce food and delivery expenses?

In some cases, having fewer options on the menu makes it easier for customers to choose, instead of debating back and forth only to try an easier food option.

Promote your menu options on social media. Publish menu posts weekly.

Add a proper text-only menu listing tab to Google My Business and Facebook if you don’t have one set up. Posting many photos of your menu pages will not help your customers find and choose to order from you!

Better still… Add a food ordering system right on your FB Page and take orders directly from Facebook. This is not too expensive to run but can be a little technically complicated for most people to set up.

Be Role Models

Be Role Models To Your Community

Time: 30 seconds as needed
Effectiveness: Immediate and Long-term
Return: High

Did you hear about the ice cream shop in BC that closed after being shamed online? Jae Bee reposted her friend’s photo of the customer lineup outside the Rocky Point Cream shop and blamed the owners for putting their customers at risk. The backlash of comments forced them to shut down.

We all know the importance of social distancing and our role in reducing the spread of the virus. Putting it into practice is the real challenge, especially working in a busy kitchen with a line of delivery drivers crowding around your front door.

Mark off a tape line on the floor to show the safe distance that people can enter to from your door. Then mark off the next safe line for a lineup to form. Post a sign indicating you require drivers and customers to keep a safe distance from you, and each other, while waiting for the order.

  • Tape mark your safe zones and verbally reinforce it as needed. You won’t be seen as rude, just concerned for people’s health
  • Post a sign in the window stating your COVID-19 safety process for kitchen staff, your customers and delivery drivers.
  • Post a sign with your phone number and have drivers wait outside for their orders
  • Put numbered pages spaced across your window like the grocery store pickup parking spots to keep waiting drivers and customers separated

Be a role model and demonstrate leadership in these challenging times. Your customers will remember it for years to come.


Leverage Delivery Services as Customer Acquisition Assets

Time: 2 hours setup, 5 seconds each delivery
Effectiveness: Immediate
Return: High

Now that dining-in is off the table, your entire restaurant service is going out the door. Restaurant owners tend to hate relying on 3rd-party delivery services. They take a big percentage of your profits and you get no customer interaction. You can’t even find out who’s ordering from you and how frequently.

When you change your perspective and leverage the food delivery into a customer acquisition delivery, you’ll see more customers calling and ordering directly with you.

Every bag that goes out of your restaurant needs to have something to connect with each customer – a discount coupon, join a social media page/group or, best of all, an invitation to join your text-message VIP Club (see page 11).

  • Every. Single. Bag.
  • Every. Single. Customer.

The goal is to make a connection with the customer and establish some form of communication with the customer that you can control. When you can reach out to customers you know, you’ll have an easier time drawing them in for more orders.

You’ll also incentivize them to come directly to your restaurant, saving you the deep commission fees of Uber Eats and Skip The Dishes.


Retarget Website Visitors With Facebook Ads

Time: 2-3 hours
Effectiveness: Immediate and Long-term
Return: High

When someone visits your website and leaves without calling, emailing or ordering something, they will likely never return. But you can chase them back on Facebook!

Facebook has a special invisible tracking pixel you can add to your website. When someone visits your website, their browser saves the pixel and Facebook can identify them for ads.

You can retarget your visitors as an “audience” when you create a Facebook Ad or Boost a well-engaged post. Specify “mobile-only” users for the best click-to-call/order response. Only these people will see your ad and your costs will be lower and better used. Use these steps and guidelines for an optimal ad campaign:

  • Pixel your website
  • Create a Facebook ad or Boost a post
  • Choose “Website Traffic” as your ad’s audience.
  • Start with a small $20 budget
  • Point the ad to your online ordering system, not your website home page
  • Make a variation of the ad to see which version gets more clicks
  • Put more budget towards the better performing ad/post

Learn more at

Your ad should entice these visitors to try your restaurant for the first time, so offer a valuable incentive. It doesn’t have to be a full discount – you could add something to their order like an extra dessert or free drinks.


Sign Up with All Delivery Services

Time: 1-3 days
Effectiveness: Moderate
Return: High

Now that dining rooms are closed and people are encouraged to stay home, restaurants are dependent on delivery services like Uber Eats, Skip The Dishes and DoorDash.

Not everyone likes using Uber Eats. DoorDash doesn’t always serve the full delivery area you’d like. For whatever reason, it’s important to be available and accessible to the widest number of customers on as many services as possible.

Check to see if the following delivery services are available in your area, and register as a restaurant partner if you haven’t done so.

When registering, you’ll be offered all kinds of offers, from stickers to website development. Just push through to complete your account and get your menu listing on their service as fast as you can.

Customers will begin finding your menu listing organically, but you should start promoting your new delivery options on your social media channels as often as you can.

In part 2, you’ll learn how to leverage the “necessary expense” of using these 3rd-party delivery services into “acquisition assets” to get more frequent and loyal customers.


Communicate with Customers on Social Media

Time: 5 minutes, 3 times per day (min)
Effectiveness: Immediate
Return: High

People are logging into social media channels like never before. They are checking in with friends and family, looking for news and updates, and searching for things to see, do and experience.

This is a golden opportunity to be found and communicate with your customers, and reach new potential customers with minimal effort.

Post simple messages on Facebook to show your health management, your availability, menu items, delivery and pickup options and any other messages to nurture your relationships with customers.

Encourage post comments (not just likes) to boost your reach and grow your customer base. Post as many of the following types of posts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and Google My Business:

  • Morning preparations
  • Pre-lunch offers
  • Afternoon surveys
  • Pre-dinner offers
  • Foodie photos
  • Delivery options
  • Pick-up discounts
  • Share-to-win draws


Keep Your Restaurant Online Listings Updated

Time: 10 minutes each
Effectiveness: Immediate
Return: Moderate

People are online more now than ever before. They are searching for food options using Google, Facebook, Yelp, and many other business directory listings websites. Your information needs to be up-to-date and consistent on all these listings.

  • Do a Google search for your restaurant to see all the listing results
  • Claim any website listings you don’t already have control over

Start with updating your Google My Business profile to show your current (new) hours, description of how you’re dealing with COVID-19, your current menu options and ways people can order and receive food from your location.

  • Update Business Hours
  • Edit Business Description
  • Update Menu Tab (add this if you haven’t yet)
  • Add Update Posts (This is free advertising space where most people will find you, especially on Google Maps)

Login at with your Google account.

Do the same for Facebook, Yelp, and all your other online listings.


Restaurant Social Graphics

Free Restaurant Social Graphics

These are dangerous times, especially for restaurant owners.

If your restaurant is going to survive the COVID-19 pandemic, you must reach your customers and let them know that they can still order food from you.

We’ve prepared a huge collection of more than 120 different graphics ready to use on your social profiles – Facebook, Instagram, Yelp, Google, etc.

  • Curbside Pickup
  • Takeout Orders
  • Get it Delivered
  • Yes We are Open
  • Yes We Deliver
  • Facebook Covers
  • Facebook Event Images

Simply sign-in using the form to get immediate, free, and unlimited access.

You can download and use these for free. Post them with a simple and clear message, and include your phone number.

Get Graphics