While restaurant marketing is a big topic, there are some general principles and mechanisms you can employ to focus your efforts on strategies that will yield results.
Depending on your budget, you’ll want to test a few of the restaurant marketing strategies we mention here and repeat them if they’re effective. Not all restaurant marketing ideas will be a slam dunk, but you’ll need to take some leaps to find out what does and doesn’t work for your concept, target market, and location.
You’ll walk away from this section with:
- The knowledge you need to write a restaurant marketing plan
- Restaurant marketing strategies for your website, social media, email, SMS, review sites, and more
- Traditional restaurant marketing strategies for direct mail, contests, and events
- A list of festivals and events for your restaurant
When you read through this section, have your business plan, budget, and priorities close at hand. Note which restaurant marketing strategies you think will resonate the most based on the research you’ve already done on your target market and concept.
How to Write an Effective Plan
So when it comes to drafting your restaurant marketing plan, there’s good news: you’ve sort of already done it with your business plan.
For your restaurant marketing plan, you’ll just need to pull together relevant pieces from your business plan in a way that will translate into a succinct, actionable restaurant marketing plan. Here’s how to do it.
Step 1: Solidify your brand.
Before you begin brainstorming marketing activities, revisit your brand’s mission statement, vision statement, value propositions, and positioning statement. These should already be in your business plan, but it’s important to revisit them with a restaurant marketing lens. Here’s a reminder of what these components should look like.
Mission statement: A mission statement is a reason your restaurant exists. Mission statements are usually one to three sentences and approximately 50 words. They should:
- Describe your restaurant’s value
- Inspire your customers, staff, and stakeholders
- Be plausible and realistic
- Be specific and to the point
Vision statement: Your vision statement should answer the question, “What does your restaurant hope to create in the future?” Make it inspirational and motivational. Announce your goals and how you intend to impact your customers and the restaurant industry in the future. Use the future tense.
Value propositions: In one sentence, describe the unique value your restaurant provides to customers. Feel free to break down this sentence further into three or four value propositions that are unique to your restaurant. You will use these statements to describe how your restaurant stands out from your competition.
Positioning statement: In one sentence, describe how you want competitors, customers, and the rest of the marketplace to perceive you.
Step 2: Remind yourself of your target audience.
Your target audience was defined based on the demographics, psychographics, and behaviors of your customer segments. All restaurant marketing strategies you develop should speak to one or more segments of your target market.
Run through the following questions for each customer segment:
- Do they communicate on social media or review sites?
- What do they do before choosing to dine at a restaurant?
- Do they prefer to dine in or take out?
- What kind of events do they enjoy?
- Are they influenced by coupons or discounts?
Feel free to add any concept-specific questions that address the behaviors of your customer segments. You’ll want to determine the motivations behind choosing one restaurant over another so that you can properly speak to your target audiences in ways that will resonate with them.
Step 3: Perform a SWOT analysis on your competitors.
Refer back to the competitor analysis you completed based on How To Do A Restaurant Competitor Analysis. Choose your top three to five local competitors.
For each competitor, perform a SWOT analysis:
- Strengths: What are your competitors doing right? By understanding what your competitors are doing right, you can do it better.
- Weaknesses: What could the competitor do better? Learn from your competitors’ mistakes by identifying holes in their operations.
- Opportunities: How can you exploit your competitors’ weaknesses and do better?
- Threats: Do your competitors offer something unique that you can’t?
Check your competitors’ websites for the most current promotions and campaigns. Log coupons or freebies, deals, and daily recurring specials. Note special events like live music, karaoke, games night, etc.
Visit your competitors’ Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and blog. Evaluate their follower numbers and content
Step 4: Define your market differentiators.
Repeat the SWOT process on your own restaurant, and define your market differentiator in a single statement. This statement should describe your advantage over the competition.
Examples of a unique selling point are: lower pricing, unique location, specialty dishes, more engaging service, the atmosphere at your restaurant, or the culture you’re creating.
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Step 5: Craft your elevator pitch.
An elevator pitch is how you would describe your restaurant to a stranger in 60 seconds or less. It’s important to keep this in mind as you craft the messaging behind promotions later.
In your elevator pitch, state:
- Your restaurant’s name and concept
- The type of cuisine you offer
- What you do for your target audience
- How you do it uniquely
Example: The Burger Bank is a gourmet burger fast casual restaurant. Our burgers fuse traditional Americana with flavors from around the world. Located in the heart of New York’s financial district, Wall Street professionals choose us to satisfy their quick service needs, without sacrificing gourmet taste or breaking the bank.
Step 6: Define and prioritize your restaurant marketing objectives.
Your restaurant marketing priorities at the beginning of your restaurant’s life will change as you develop. In general, however, all restaurant marketing initiatives will serve at least one of these three purposes:
Your brand precedes you. It’s your reputation – and you want to have a good one. Your brand will be reflected in everything you do as a business, including your marketing materials, decor, etc. Promoting your brand is vital to capturing the attention of your target audience and sticking out in their memory when they’re deciding where to eat.
Example initiatives: social media, PR, events, blogs, partnerships
2. Customer acquisition
This is your obvious objective: to fill seats, fill bellies, swipe credit cards, and collect cash. These are the marketing campaigns that will get customers in the door.
Example initiatives: promotions, coupons, advertisements
3. Customer retention
Customer retention campaigns are the marketing efforts you use to secure return business. Customer retention strategies involve capturing customer information and mixing branding and acquisition strategies. Customer retention initiatives make sure you can easily lure customers back in with incentives.
Example initiatives: social media, email marketing, loyalty programs
Step 7: Choose your promotional strategies.
Based on your budget, target audience, and goals, choose a few of these strategies to implement first (see below for detailed descriptions of each):
Digital restaurant marketing strategies
- Website and SEO
- Content marketing
- Social media
- Email marketing
- SMS text messaging
- Review sites
- Loyalty programs
Traditional restaurant marketing strategies
- Direct mail
- Contests and giveaways
- Leagues and events
When you’ve chosen your strategies, define the following for each:
- Roles and responsibilities
- Quantifiable goal
- Campaign details
- How you’ll measure success
How do I improve my restaurant business?
Other possibilities include creating gift cards and providing free Wi-Fi. That way people can search on Google and other search engines. Don’t underestimate the effectiveness of a social media account. Keep your business info updated at all times. And don’t forget to respond to messages and reviews.
How do I market my small restaurant?
Good customer service is an important part of any marketing strategy. social media Pages are an effective modern digital way to have an effective business account.
How do I get my restaurant noticed?
Providing good content is another strategy to get your business noticed. A steady supply of professional words and pictures will increase your restaurant’s revenue.
How do you develop a restaurant marketing strategy?
You need to start at the beginning with the brainstorming session to come up with a good marketing strategy. Checking out sample templates you find online is a good idea.
Using what’s called the 4Ps is helpful. This stands for price, promotion, product, and place. Identifying these four points helps to get you started.
How do you do a market analysis for a restaurant?
Market analysis for a business helps you to design the right marketing strategy. It will help you to tweak your customer experience. And it helps people to understand when and how customer preferences change. Several different techniques work including comment cards that you put on tables. You can also send out online surveys to your customers. These techniques help you to see what you need to change. They can help increase revenue.
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