It’s crucial to have a solid restaurant marketing plan to work from if you’re to bring diners to the door of your establishment. This plan is necessary for determining your overall approach to marketing, how you will reach the right audience, and what kind of impact your marketing efforts will have.
A lot can go into marketing a restaurant, so planning it out carefully is essential. In this guide, we’ll cover the steps and considerations needed for developing a high-impact marketing plan that achieves results.
9 Step Guide to Writing a Restaurant Marketing Plan
1. Set Marketing Goals
The first step in creating your restaurant marketing plan is establishing goals. These goals should be SMART, which stands for:
While marketing has the overall goal of increasing sales and revenue, break down your individual marketing campaigns into more specific goals. In each case, your goals should have measurable KPIs you can track to measure success. This is necessary for understanding whether you are moving the mark towards achieving that goal.
For example, one goal could be to increase brand awareness. Your KPI here could be growing your social media followers by X% each quarter. Some other goals could include:
- Increasing sales for a specific dish or beverage
- Improving customer loyalty and increasing return customers
- Reaching new customers
- Increasing sales in a specific area of your restaurant business (like online ordering deliveries or bar sales)
Once you have established measurable goals, you can start to develop marketing tactics around them.
2. Define Your Audience
A key step in creating any restaurant marketing plan is understanding who your ideal patrons are. This is necessary for being able to target them effectively.
Sure, your potential customers could include anyone because everybody eats. However, not everyone will be interested in your particular restaurant. The more specific you can be about your target audience, the better.
Try to focus on who your market is based on what your restaurant has to offer. They could be families with young children, high-paid professionals, college students, office employees looking for a lunch spot, or more. Why will people visit your restaurant, and why will people not visit it?
Creating a detailed persona of your target customers can be very helpful in determining what marketing initiatives and channels you will use to attract them. The success of your overall marketing strategy depends on this.
3. Do a Market Analysis
You need to know what’s happening around you to create a successful restaurant marketing plan. While you should have performed a thorough market analysis when drawing up your restaurant business plan, revisit this now from a marketing perspective.
First, understand the competition. Create a local restaurant list and know who you will compete against to win over patrons. Then, figure out what is unique about these establishments and how they attract people to their doors.
Follow your competitors' social media pages, sign up for their email marketing list, visit the restaurant’s location, and try to figure out why they have loyal customers. Knowing this will help you figure out what your competitors are good at and where new opportunities lie. Your goal here should be to improve on what other restaurants might already be doing.
4. Establish a Unique Selling Proposition
Your unique selling proposition (USP) sets your restaurant apart from the competition. A core part of your restaurant’s marketing plan is establishing your USP and promoting this to attract the right customers.
You know what the competition offers after performing your market analysis. Now, it’s time to decide how your restaurant will be different. This could be your restaurant concept and the type of food you serve. It could be your prices, your setting or location, the kind of service experience you offer, or any other element of your establishment.
All of your restaurant marketing ideas should touch on this USP in some way. Of course, the unique element of your business needs to align with your target customers and their interests.
An excellent strategy to use when establishing this is a SWOT analysis. This means digging into your restaurants:
Understanding these elements around your business will help you realize what you’re good at and what you’re not. In turn, you’ll be able to identify areas of your restaurant that should be promoted to create the biggest impact.
5. Create a Brand Identity
Before you start rolling out restaurant marketing strategies, you need to have a clearly defined brand to promote. Your brand is what makes your restaurant stand out and become memorable to your audience. It’s also what determines your restaurant’s personality.
Your restaurant brand should include elements like:
- Your logo
- The kind of colors your restaurant uses in promotions
- The tone of voice you use on social media channels
- What kind of values your establishment is centered around
Your brand will be visible in all areas of your restaurant promotion - from signage to flyers to digital marketing strategies. Of course, your brand needs to relate to your restaurant concept, your target audience, and your USP.
6. Understand Your Restaurant Positioning
Positioning is closely related to your USP and your brand. When planning your marketing activities, you need to understand your restaurant’s pricing strategy and why this is justified. This will help you promote your restaurant to the right people more effectively.
For example, there might be a few different burger restaurants in your area. How does your burger restaurant position itself in this market, and why are your prices different from the other burger eateries? Maybe you only use ethically sourced organic ingredients. This could be your USP, and it’s what justifies higher pricing.
If you just charge the same as everyone else and don’t have a precise positioning and differentiation strategy, creating an impact through your marketing efforts will be very difficult.
7. Choose Your Marketing Channels
Once you understand your restaurant’s brand and unique positioning, you need to know how you will reach an audience and market this to customers. This involves choosing the proper marketing channels.
It’s imperative that you don’t just try to cover every channel you can. Remember that marketing requires time and effort; each channel you choose will need unique content and engagement. If you take too broad of an approach, you could waste a lot of time on ineffective strategies.
Instead, the best approach is to find channels where you’ll engage with your audience the most. These channels should align with who your ideal customer is and what your strengths are.
Once you have established these channels and become comfortable with them, you can always expand to new ones. This will help you reach people more efficiently without wasting time or budget.
Let’s do a quick breakdown of some of the different channels that you can use in your marketing plan:
Social media is an essential part of any restaurant marketing plan. When it comes to social media marketing, there are many different channels to choose from. Make your selection based on your audience.
Generally, the best channels for restaurants are Facebook and Instagram. These allow you to share visual content (like pictures of dishes) with your audience while easily engaging them and sharing details about your business.
Other social media platforms you could add to your marketing plan include TikTok, YouTube, and Twitter. However, ensure that these channels align with your market before investing too much effort into them.
Email is one of the most effective marketing tools for helping you earn repeat business. After all, the email recipient has opted in to hear from you in the first place. Use email to maintain relationships with patrons, send news and updates about your restaurant, promote loyalty programs and giveaways, and share other information about your business.
Your website is your most important digital asset. A key part of any restaurant marketing strategy is creating a beautiful, functional, and informative website. This should include all relevant information about your establishment, including your menu, address, contact details, and about story.
Try to use search engine optimization (SEO) techniques to get more traffic from Google searches. In particular, restaurants should focus on local SEO to target the right traffic - i.e., people who are nearby.
Check out our guide to restaurant website builders to help you create a killer website.
Traditional Marketing Channels
Not all marketing needs to be done online, especially in the restaurant industry. Beyond online marketing, effective promotional strategies can include posters, flyers, chalkboards, radio ads, print ads, partnerships with other small businesses, and more. Wherever your audience exists, there are opportunities to promote your restaurant.
8. Set a Marketing Budget
Another critical and often overlooked step in creating a restaurant marketing plan is setting a budget. While not all marketing strategies require a budget, certain areas do. Your marketing budget will go towards things like paid ad campaigns, hiring a photographer, paying for website development, graphic design, and so on.
You must understand the return you hope to achieve from your different marketing efforts. This will help you figure out where best to spend your budget.
9. Choose the Right Tools
Finally, your business will need to use the right tools to run effective campaigns. These tools need to fit into your budget and work with the channels you’re using.
Marketing tools include things like social media management apps, website builder and SEO tools, ads management tools, email marketing tools, a CRM, giveaway tools, tools for loyalty programs, and more.
Without a well-thought-out restaurant marketing plan, you could spend hours focused on the wrong strategies and channels. Marketing is essential to growing your restaurant; the right approach will ensure your efforts are successful.
If you plan on hosting events at your restaurant and need an intuitive platform to support the events management process, check out Perfect Venue. Try it free, or watch a demo to find out how Perfect Venue might be a fit for your business.