If I asked your service staff, “What is the one thing that I need to have here that I shouldn’t miss?” do they have an answer? (and it can’t be, “Everything is good here”).

Is there a dish – a dessert, an appetizer, an entree, a cocktail – that is the most popular, celebrated, unique item on the menu that is absolutely your best?

They better know what that is and be prepared to explain it well.

In my restaurants, all my servers knew that the number one dish that everybody had to try was our perch. Everybody absolutely loved our perch. We were famous for it. Every company should have their own “one thing” that they are known for.

So, if I asked you- What is the one marketing promotion I should be doing in my restaurant?

We don’t obviously have food for my company, DFY Marketing Systems, but if you asked us, the question would be, “What is the one marketing promotion I should be doing in my restaurant?”

And the answer, hands down from anyone on our team, is our #1 promotion that’s generated over $295 Million in sales for restaurant owners over the past 18 years, our DFY Red Envelope/No Peeking Promotion.

Hands down, unequivocally, without question or hesitation.

When I started this marketing company in 2008, I started with this promotion that works better than anything else. I’m going to tell you exactly how to do it. And I’m going to tell you the top three secrets that make it a huge success that you can use FOR ANY of your own promotions. Because when something works, keep doing it until it doesn’t.

1. Use Leverage For Your Promotions

When you have a busy period, you only need a little marketing. You might be seasonal, or there’s a big holiday or event that draws people into your restaurant. But then that rush is over, and you’re hit with a slow month. This promotion leverages your busy time and drives your customers back in the following slow period, getting them to spend more.

That’s using leverage—the influx of customers the month before to pump up sales in the slow month. Your busy month is the asset you’re leveraging. You can use this with any promotion. And there are all sorts of leverage: employees, suppliers, other businesses, local celebrities, politicians, prizes, etc. You’re only limited by your imagination.

2. Using “The Lotto Effect”

It’s a simple red envelope and a certificate for a prize is sealed inside. On the front is your restaurant name, the few exemptions, and the list of prizes to be won. It creates what I call the “Lotto Effect.”

What do you do when you buy a lotto ticket? You’re not thinking about winning the $10 prize. You’re not thinking about winning the $100 prize. You’re not even thinking about winning the $10,000 prize. You want the jackpot. That’s the dream. That’s the lotto effect.

People love to win stuff.

Secrets From Our $295 Million Promotion

K.I.S.S.: You know what that means, right? “Keep it simple, stupid.” That’s huge! Remember that with anything but especially with your promotions. Don’t get complicated. Confusion kills sales.

I can explain the Red Envelope/No Peeking Promotion in less than 10 seconds:

You pass out the red envelopes, one to each table in the promotion period. They are sealed with the prize from your restaurant hidden inside. Your customers can’t peek until they bring the envelope back in the redemption period (your slow time).

Get it? It isn’t confusing. That’s why it works so well.

And the fact that every envelope is a winner. They’ve earned that prize. They want to make sure that they get that prize, and they all think they’ve won the biggest prize – so they bring it back.

Trick One: One of the tricks is to have a big, good grand prize. That can be a flat-screen TV, sporting event tickets, or a barbecue grill.

One of my favorites and the simplest thing to do is “food for a year.” If you own a pizza restaurant, then free pizza for a year. You give them 12 certificates, one for a free pizza every month. Everybody wants to win that free pizza for a year.

Add up the value of all the prizes so you can put “our $10,000 giveaway” on the envelope front and in-house signage. That works well to give you more marketing mileage.

Trick Two: To make it a success and make people feel good, include a low prize in the prizes, like a free soft drink. But here’s the trick: don’t put any certificates in the envelopes for the free soft drink. No one likes to win the lowest prize. That way nobody walks away feeling bad. They are happy they won more than a free soft drink.

3. You Must Get It Into The Right Hands


Trick Three: Getting anything opened and in front of the right audience is a major challenge in today’s world. Are you kidding me… we see something like 3,000 marketing messages a day now. Billboards, radio, mailers, Google ads, Facebook ads, and don’t even get me started on Email!

This promotion goes directly from your servers to your guests. The ones that already love you. I know that because they are in your restaurant, eating and giving you money.

Remember the success of your promotions is based on “The Who.” No, not the rock group. Those people you give the promotion to, to increase sales.

And it can also pump up sales and gets you new customers. You might be thinking, how the heck can it get me new customers when my staff is handing them out to people already in the restaurant?!

When I had my restaurant, I noticed a lot of my great customers worked out at the local gym, which was a half mile from my restaurant. I took a bunch of these envelopes over there, dropped them off, and talked to the manager. I told them, “I’m doing this great promotion this month, could you hand these out to some of your best customers? Every envelope is a guaranteed winner.” And it drove new business pumping up more sales.

Our Best Dish That You Have To Have

This works better than anything else that my company does to pump up sales for restaurant owners—any time of the year when you have a busy time followed by a slow time.

You can do this promotion yourself. Get red envelopes, decide on prizes, design everything, then print, stuff, and seal the certificates. Remember to use all the tricks I shared above.

Or, we can do it all for you and save you the time and hassle for less than a pack of gum per envelope.
You can get the information on our website at DFYREDENVELOPE.COM. We’ve been doing it for the past 18 years. We know what we’re doing. My staff is awesome at this promotion.

We can do the whole thing for you for much less than you can do for yourself. We’re working in massive quantities which gives us leverage. And we can do it correctly because we know what works with different styles of restaurants.

Michael Thibault

Known as “The Done For You Marketing Guy for Restaurants.” International Speaker on Restaurant Marketing. Published contributing author of 4 Marketing Books. Industry expert on Google Searches and Review Sites. Recovering Independent Restaurant Owner and Caterer of over 21 years. And, all-around good guy.