If you look around, you’ll see many restaurants. In fact, new ones are hard-pressed to survive without a good marketing plan since there are so many of them around.
Restaurant marketing means how you tell people about your restaurant. It’s not just about good pictures or offers, it is about making people aware and increasing visibility consistently.
There are different ways to market a restaurant like ads, special deals, and sometimes letting people taste your food. But for all this, you will need a solid restaurant marketing plan to keep your budget in check and guide you through each step of the marketing journey.
Whereas, you are burdened with hiring staff, managing the restaurant, and making unique dishes, creating a marketing plan would seem like a huge task, right?
Don’t sweat it all; here is our guide on how to create a restaurant marketing plan to make your process easy and smooth.
What is a Restaurant Marketing Plan?
A restaurant marketing plan is like a special recipe that outlines a restaurant’s marketing strategy to attract new customers, retain existing ones, and enhance customer satisfaction.
A marketing plan also talks about what you’ll do for a certain time to grow your restaurant. It includes goals, budget decisions, and plans for both digital & traditional marketing.
Thus, the marketing plan for a restaurant is like a guide for what you have to do in the next quarter or year and how it will help you grow.
Why is a Restaurant Marketing Plan Important?
Restaurant owners often fail to convey their messages to the target audience; this is where a restaurant marketing plan comes to the rescue.
- It outlines steps on how to make your restaurant succeed through various marketing channels.
- It helps you to know your target audience and ways of how to reach them.
- A well-structured plan with excellent strategies increases a loyal customer base.
- A marketing plan also highlights your competitive advantage and what makes you unique.
- It highlights the marketing budget, which keeps you in check for your marketing spending.
A solid marketing plan helps you to stand out and guides you through each step in your marketing journey.
Here is the step-by-step guide on how to write a marketing plan for a restaurant:
A Step-by-Step Guide to Writing a Restaurant Marketing Plan
1. Understanding Your Target Audience
Understanding your target audience is like finding the perfect blend of ingredients for a mouth-watering dish.
So, think about all the aspects like age, gender, location, interests, and even dining habits of your potential customers to understand your target audience.
Consider these questions to identify your target audience:
- Are you catering to families, young professionals, or elderly people?
- Are they health-conscious or drawn to fast food & desserts?
- In which location are they located?
- Do they prefer dine-in experiences or online orders?
- Do you have various customer segments for days and nights?
- Are they active on social media, where you can engage with them?
By answering all these questions you can create a consumer persona that guides your marketing strategies and decisions.
For example, your ideal customer could be:
- Families with young children who prefer to sleep early
- Upscale diners who prefer elegant ambiance
- University students who stay up late at night
Therefore, just like a chef knows all the right seasonings for the best taste, knowing your audience ensures that you will use all the correct marketing strategies.
2. Defining Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)
Defining a Unique Selling Proposition (USP) for your restaurant is like capturing the essence of what makes your eatery stand out.
To identify your USP, think about what makes your restaurant truly unique.
Your USP could be a secret family recipe passed down through generations, a creative fusion cuisine, a beautiful ambiance, a stunning view that becomes special for any memorable occasion, or affordable pricing.
Here are some examples of USPs for famous chains:
- Dominos: Fresh, hot pizza delivered in 30 minutes or less, guaranteed, or it’s free.
- Subway: A wide range of varieties of vegetarian as well as non-vegetarian meals.
Incorporating your USP into your marketing efforts creates a distinct identity for your restaurant and gives new customers a compelling reason to choose your restaurant over others.
3. SWOT analysis & competitor analysis
Conducting a SWOT analysis involves analyzing your restaurant’s internal and external environment. It helps you identify the strengths and weaknesses of your business along with opportunities and threats in the market.
Start by recognizing all the strengths of your restaurant like ambiance, friendly staff, etc. Pinpoint the weaknesses like slow service or the restaurant’s location is not in a prime area, etc. After that, analyze both opportunities and threats for the short and long term.
After completing a SWOT analysis, repeat the same procedure for all your competitors (nearby restaurants with the same cuisines & menu). Study their strengths, document their weaknesses, and understand their strategies.
Understanding these questions will help you in performing competitor analysis:
Competitor analysis guides you in crafting your unique selling propositions and marketing strategy.
By combining the results of both analyses, you can create a solid marketing plan, which focuses on your USPs.
4. Set Measurable Marketing Goals
Before you start marketing, you need to set your SMART marketing goals (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound).
Here are some common primary goals for a restaurant business:
Increasing brand awareness
Set a goal to increase brand awareness, you can make a goal of increasing awareness by 20% through social media pages or other marketing channels.
Boost customer loyalty
After attracting new customers, encourage them to visit your restaurant frequently to build a loyal customer base.
For example: target 15% growth in loyal customers through loyalty programs, discounts & coupons.
Develop an achievable goal to boost sales. Consider setting a target, such as increasing dessert sales by 12% in the upcoming quarter.
Improve customer satisfaction
Customer satisfaction is at the center of the restaurant industry. Therefore, link a goal that increases customer satisfaction.
For example: you can set a target to increase online reviews and lower your serving time a bit.
Each of these goals should be time-bound with a deadline; for example, you might set the target for 6-12 months or 1 quarter.
These goals provide a clear roadmap for your restaurant’s success, enabling you to track progress, adapt strategies, and celebrate achievements.
5. Social Media Marketing
Around 41% of diners check out a restaurant’s social media account before they decide to actually visit it.
Social media pages encourage direct engagement with customers through direct messages & comments. It can foster building great relationships with your customers, boosting a sense of community.
Here are four leading social media platforms you need to stay active Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, and Instagram.
According to Statista, there are 175 million people active on Facebook in the USA as of January 2023. Therefore, though decreasing users of Facebook, we can not ignore this huge number.
You can use Facebook for communication, spreading awareness, creating events & marketing campaigns, acquiring new customers, and retaining customers.
Use Facebook ads for better results. You can pick who sees them based on location, interests, and behavior. You can advertise your restaurant’s ambiance, highlight new dishes, and share special offers through ads to reach potential customers.
Instagram is one of the best social media platforms to increase awareness for your restaurant.
On Instagram, people generally show off their lifestyles, resulting in exploring new places to hang out and relax with their friends. So, you only have to reach a few local influencers, and they will drive an insane amount of traffic to your restaurant.
Also, Instagram is highly visual, making it an ideal platform for showcasing your restaurant’s aesthetic and culinary outcomes.
You can post photos and videos of your dishes, behind-the-scenes dish preparation, reels featuring the restaurant owner or staff, and highlight your restaurant’s atmosphere. Also, use hashtags to improve the visibility and reach of your post.
TikTok is now a potential social media platform for restaurant marketing due to its visual engagement. It allows you to share appealing videos online showcasing your ambiance, dishes, and everything else.
The platform has joined the ranks of YouTube and Pinterest, where users may search and discover other than socializing with others.
In fact, participating in certain trends and challenges with influencers can boost visibility and engagement for your restaurant.
Thus, TikTok is the new trend to hop on, so do not skip to make your business account on it.
Twitter’s fast-paced nature is great for sharing quick updates & announcements and engaging with potential customers directly.
Use this social media platform to post about daily specials, and events, and respond to customer inquiries or feedback in real time. The use of trending hashtags and timely posts can help your restaurant stay relevant and engaged with a broader audience.
Some of the ideas for your social media posts are:
- New menu item
- Special discounts or offers
- Group discounts
- Pictures of your dishes
- Customer reviews
- Media coverage
Social media marketing is more affordable and successful than traditional advertising techniques.
6. Traditional Restaurant Marketing
Despite the rise in popularity of digital marketing, traditional strategies still work well for attracting local clients and cultivating a following.
Some of the traditional marketing measures include:
Print marketing is a traditional marketing strategy that involves placing advertisements in newspapers, magazines, and local publications.
It helps increase local reach, credibility, visibility, and brand awareness.
Also, remember to create a visually appealing and engaging ad that effectively communicates your restaurant’s unique selling points and keeps your brand identity intact.
Participating in local events or sponsoring local community events, fairs, and festivals is an important restaurant marketing strategy. It helps you build a community and enhance the brand visibility.
Sponsoring or participating in local events also boosts face-to-face interaction, reaching the target audience, and content generation for various social media channels.
With a weekly reach of 82% among adults, do not forget to include radio commercials in your restaurant’s marketing strategy.
Radio helps you reach a wider & targeted audience cost-effectively. If you create jingles, people also tend to remember them, resulting in new customers for your restaurant.
In a world full of online marketing, direct mail campaigns still exist.
It involves sending physical marketing materials, such as postcards, flyers, or menu cards directly to the local residents, offices, etc.
This approach informs recipients about your restaurant’s offerings, promotions, and other relevant information.
For example, you can send flyers and coupons for free meals to attract potential customers.
You can even send a postcard to the target audience with attention-grabbing content to spread brand awareness.
Loyalty programs are particularly effective in this industry as they encourage customer retention and foster a sense of loyalty among diners.
There are various types of programs: point-based programs, punch cards, birthday rewards, etc.
It makes your most loyal customers feel special, and they will return again & again with coupons. They will also share their experience with others, so be wise and do not skip this.
Traditional marketing is like comfort food; people are familiar with these marketing tactics. Thus, traditional marketing, like old family recipes, has a special place in your marketing plan.
Also, a balance of both traditional and digital marketing is necessary to attract all age groups of restaurant customers to your business.
7. Create a Website
A well-crafted website is essential for restaurant marketing. It acts as a digital storefront, providing vital info like menus, location, and hours, making it easy for potential diners to discover and trust your restaurant.
Your website also showcases your restaurant’s ambiance, decor, and delicious food through captivating images and videos, attracting visitors to visit you.
It simplifies reservations and online ordering, enhancing convenience for customers and allowing you to offer personalized promotions, building loyalty.
Lastly, it gets easier for your target audience to search about you and your reviews if you have a strong website. Thus, a well-maintained website is crucial to reach a broader audience.
8. Determine Your Restaurant Marketing Budget
Before making any budget, determine all the marketing tools you are going to use.
Also, look at the projected sales for the year and then allocate 3-5% for marketing. This average marketing budget will differ based on factors like location, size, cuisines, marketing campaigns, etc.
Think about your goals; do you want a buzz for your new restaurant or want to increase sales? Because your goals will be the deciding factor for the marketing budget.
Apart from goals, the type of marketing also affects the budget. For example, email marketing and social media marketing are cheaper than print marketing.
Remember, your marketing budget is like the seasoning you use in your cooking; it enhances the flavor of your restaurant’s success. It’s important to set a reasonable budget for your business, so you do not overspend.
9. Implement Your Restaurant Marketing Strategies
Once your marketing plan for your restaurant is ready, it is time for implementation.
Proper implementation is necessary, whether it is digital marketing, traditional marketing, or launching a restaurant website.
As restaurant owners, first, break down your marketing plan into smaller tasks, then implement everything according to the marketing calendar only.
Implementing your marketing strategy ensures that your efforts don’t stay on paper but reach your target audience. This step also helps you connect with customers, create buzz, and build excitement.
For example, if you’re running a special event or launching a new menu, it’s the implementation that lets your customers know about it through social media posts, advertisements, and content or email marketing.
Additionally, successful implementation lets you measure the success of your overall marketing strategy. Let’s see how monitoring works.
10. Monitor the Success of Your Marketing Plan
Monitoring the success of your marketing plan ensures that everything is turning out just right.
This step is incredibly important because it lets you see if your efforts are paying off and helps you make necessary adjustments.
Firstly, monitoring allows you to track your goals. If your goal was to increase loyal customers by 15%, you could check how close you are to your target.
Additionally, it helps you identify what’s working and what’s not.
For example, you can see if your posts are getting more engagement than email marketing or if digital marketing efforts are paying off more so you can adjust your focus accordingly.
Moreover, the restaurant industry is dynamic, with trends and preferences continuously shifting. So, if you notice any sudden change, measuring the results will help you alter the marketing plan accordingly.
To sum up, a well-written restaurant marketing plan along with a comprehensive business plan is the secret ingredient of a successful restaurant.
You can streamline your planning process without any fuss with the help of business plan software.
Thus, don’t miss out on the opportunity to make your restaurant a standout success. Invest time and effort into crafting a solid marketing and business plan today, as your restaurant’s future success depends on it.