Restaurant Promo: 5 Amazing Tips for Creating and Selling Swag

Posted: Jan. 07, 2019

Food isn’t the only thing restaurants can sell. If you’re doing your restaurant marketing right, there are plenty of opportunities to make a profit beyond what you serve from the kitchen.

The smartest restaurants know what it means to have a great brand that your customers will remember even after their dining experience is over. Plenty of elements of your restaurant’s experience will factor into this, including atmosphere, service quality, and what kind of food you serve. But you can take your brand experience  a step further by selling restaurant swag.

Swag is creative promotional merchandise offered by a business or organization that can be used by your community of customers. Swag can really be any item, like a water bottle or a t-shirt, branded to the business. Like these examples, it might serve some helpful purpose while also being fashionable and cool.

All restaurants can use swag for promotion and marketing purposes. If you’re not taking advantage of merchandising, you could be losing potential profit and free advertising for your restaurant.

Not to mention that swag is a fantastic way to show your restaurant’s creativity and add a bit of zest to your daily operations. It’ll help make your restaurant unique, keep your staff happy, and it will help attract new customers.

So if your restaurant doesn’t offer swag, or it’s looking for ways to make the swag it offers more interesting or accessible to customers, keep reading. You’ll be sure to find something helpful.

1. Sync up with your staff

Getting your employees on board with your swag strategy should be the first step in upgrading your restaurant’s merchandising game. Your servers, baristas, or hosts can use the extra merchandise, and you’ll have an opportunity to expand your restaurant’s presence. It’s a win-win!

If you’re not taking advantage of offering swag to your employees, you’re missing out on the opportunity to increase your potential to brand both inside and outside your restaurant. Not only do your customers take notice, but your employees will appreciate the merchandise.

Plenty of businesses can help you with making swag, too. For example, if you’re struggling to come up with a design for your merchandise, Bonfire has free t-shirt templates you can use you can use to create your shirts.They can easily be designed and customized to fit any brand or business, especially restaurants.

Keep in mind that there are a few great ways to get your staff on board with your restaurant’s swag.

Offer free swag to your staff. It may seem counterintuitive, but make sure that any swag you offer to your staff is free. This will make your staff grateful and spread a good word about your restaurant.

Coach staff to look for swag opportunities. You can talk to your serving staff and make sure that they plug your company’s swag and have them stay on the lookout for possible opportunities for your staff to sell swag. You’ll find that simple questions can become great possibilities.

Allow staff to customize. Give your serving staff some room to express themselves with buttons or flair. This adds to the excitement and shows the customers that the swag itself can be customized.

These suggestions can assist you in making sure everyone on your restaurant team understands what the swag is for and how it helps the restaurant’s atmosphere.

2. Offer  a variety of items

It goes without saying that choosing what items to use as swag is half the battle.

But while careful item selection is an important element in developing your restaurant’s swag, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you should limit the kinds of items you offer. Having a broad catalog of items from your restaurant means that any kind of customer can choose something they like.

Everything from having a signature product to carrying different kinds of a certain item have proven to be great ways to move in-store swag.

Keeping your item selection diverse isn’t difficult, and there are some wonderful methods you can use to make things interesting.

  • Design custom t-shirts. Try designing custom t-shirts for your restaurant. These are a very common item and appreciated by a variety of customers. They offer convenience and can be worn anywhere.
  • Try out coffee mugs. You can offer coffee mugs, especially if you’re a coffee shop or if your restaurant has a cafe vibe to it. These make great gifts and offer all sorts of branding opportunities.
  • Mix signature products with a diverse selection. A signature product is always a good idea for your restaurant, but you don’t just want to offer a signature product by itself. Having a main product mixed with a wide variety of items is a great way to make sure there’s something in your restaurant for every kind of customer.

These ideas can come in handy when choosing what kind of swag you want for your restaurant. So keep them in mind when you’re going back to the drawing board.

3. Team up with other organizations

No one said you need to limit your swag to your restaurant.

Plenty of nonprofits or businesses would appreciate the opportunity to cooperate with your restaurant to hold events or fundraisers. Use these sponsorship opportunities to get your swag out there!

Some organizations will understand the opportunity right away and jump on board. But you can always use a few other strategies to get other nonprofits or businesses on your team.

Examine sponsorship opportunities: Look for events or local sports teams that you can sponsor and provide merchandise for. People will associate your restaurant with community and fun, and it’ll give you another chance to show everyone your swag.

So if you want to work with other organizations or businesses, use those ideas to help you out, and you should find your swag selling faster in no time.

4. Maintain branding across all products

Great branding can make or break a restaurant.

It’s important to choose a coherent theme that can be applied to any kind of merchandise you might want your restaurant to offer. This way your restaurant’s logo or theme can be identified easily by anyone that comes across it.

Everything from what music your restaurant plays to the coffee mugs it sells are potential opportunities for restaurant branding.

Holding down a strong brand doesn’t need to cause you a headache. Try some of these ideas on for size in order to make sure your restaurant’s swag really pops.

Keep an eye out for branding cohesiveness: You can use some companies’ customizable items to keep your brand cohesiveness across different sorts of merchandise.

Combine branding with restaurant services: Make sure your brand is not only on your swag but on your menus or other areas of restaurant service. This will allow customers to make a connection between the branding on the swag and the branding in your restaurant.

Keep an eye out for unconventional branding opportunities: Online branding or other kinds of unconventional spaces are perfect moments to reach out to customers and make sure your brand is recognized.

Remember these tips when you’re designing your restaurant’s swag to keep your restaurant’s look and presence sleek and up-to-date. They’ll come in handy in the future!

5. Know what your customers want

It can be easy to think that all customers want the same thing. But when it comes to swag, it’s a different story.

Understanding your customers is a necessity when it comes to choosing what kind of swag your restaurant offers. By knowing who your customers are and what they want, you can offer a selection of items in your restaurant that your customers will actually want to purchase.

Getting to know your customers can seem to be an intimidating task. Use these suggestions to help you learn more about your fans.

  • Use data from your POS: Using your restaurant’s POS system effectively means you can gather data from it to understand who is going to your restaurant and what they’re buying.

  • Think like a marketing specialist: Take a page from the nonprofit marketing strategies book and look at all the different opportunities you have to market your merchandise to your customers, looking anywhere from understanding your base with customer metrics to working on your online presence. All of these tricks come in handy when trying to move swag.

  • Gather feedback. Make use of customer surveys and other kinds of feedback to understand how your customers are thinking and what they’re feeling.

Having these ideas at your disposal can only help your restaurant move more merchandise, so don’t wait to start examining your customer base. Start today!


With these ideas in mind, you should be able to offer swag that’s hip and in line with your restaurant’s atmosphere. It’s simpler than it looks, and it’s super effective.

Swag can be the bread and butter of any restaurant’s marketing scheme, or it can be a small addition to your restaurant’s overall experience. But it’s important that you do it right.

So don’t wait to start offering swag at your restaurant. Start upping your merchandising game today and see how much your customers and staff appreciate.


Author Bio

Kevin PenneyKevin Penney is the CMO and co-founder of Bonfire.com, a company that’s reinventing how people create, sell and purchase custom apparel. He loves solving difficult problems, working with the Bonfire Product team, and hockey. He has over 10 years experience in digital media, design, and technology.

Posted: Jan. 07, 2019 | Written By: lavuadmin

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