Your Marketing Action Plan: Revisit the Kids Menu

kids healthy menuKids menu choices have been big news lately – Michelle Obama’s campaign to end childhood obesity, banning Happy Meals and healthcare reform that’s shed new light on just what our kids are eating.

That’s why now is the right time to revisit your kids menu. It fits in the seven questions of newsworthiness (timely, local, future impact, prominence, conflict, number of people affected, and human interest). Plus,¬†it’s the right thing to do (if you do it right).

In this post we’ll explore the five ways your new kids menu can become a promotion as well as a better way to build relationships with your customers. Let’s start at what a kids menu revisit should look like.

The 2011 Kids Menu

The 2011 kid likes hotdogs and fries as much as the next person, but they and their parents are more informed about what a restrictive diet based on overly-processed, trans fat-laden foods can do to arteries and waistlines.

Today’s kids have been exposed to a wider range of food selections and cuisines than any generation in the past. We should capitalize on these changing desires and needs. Here’s how you can begin:

  1. Move away from fried, cheesy and overly processed meats (hamburger, chicken nuggets and hotdogs). Try adding grilled and baked dishes (smaller adult options) to your kids menu.
  2. Add more fresh fruits, veggies and whole grains. You can lean up a burger with turkey, a whole grain bun. Add a side of fruit or small salad, and your kids menu goes down in saturated fat and up in sophistication (something older children will appreciate).
  3. Give them food to that’s fun to play with. Options that allow them to build their own taco or pasta dish can drive sales and please the kiddos. The secret is lots of fresh ingredients and lowered fat and salt content. They’ll be too busy playing with their food to notice simple substitutions.
  4. Offer healthier sides. No one says you have to remove all the favorites, but add the apples, carrot sticks with peanut butter and a light soup to the list of sides.
  5. Use your menu to educate. Menus with simple facts and games that promote healthy eating are great conversation starters for kids and parents. Here’s one to get you started.

How to Make Your Kids Menu Makeover a Promotion

Let me be clear. This will not work if you are not genuine in your intentions, but you can build a positive multi-channel buzz if you do this promotion right. Here’s how to do it.

  1. Approach some organizations about doing an awareness campaign on childhood obesity. Sponsor an event, do demonstrations for a school on how to select the right menu items, host a kids and parents cooking class and promote it via the schools other organizations. Check out your local chapter of the Junior League or¬†Auxiliary – these groups are dedicated to improving children’s live in the local community.
  2. Send a series of press releases. Yes, I said series. You can tie this menu change to several different news angles and different publications. Here are a few ideas for press releases:
    • We’re joining Let’s Move with a new kids menu;
    • We care about kids, so we unveiled a healthier menu;
    • We’re partnering with X organization to promote healthy food for kids
    • Healthy kids workshop teaches parents and kids how to eat better
    • We’re in it to win it! The battle for the next generation
  3. Promote it to your customers via the USPS. One of the most effective communication tools is still the snail mailed letter. It’s 44 cents per customer to let them know you are making a pact with them to help their kids eat better. Outline all of your activities, menu launch date and invite them to try you out for a healthy change. Your owners should sign it.
  4. Make it part of social media. Discuss the issue of childhood obesity and share links to news articles, resources and your new menu and press mentions.
  5. Make it the focus of your e-mail newsletter. You can even make it a spotlight section every month or quarter.

Have you recently transformed your kids menu to include lighter or more sophisticated? Tell us about it on Facebook.