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10 Essential Parts of a Successful Restaurant Marketing Plan

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By the end of 2019, there were more than 1 million restaurants in the US.

With no shortage of a place to go out to eat or drink, the options can seem endless.

In New York, it’d take longer than a lifetime to eat at every restaurant in the city.

There’s a lot to choose from. It might seem like customer choices are random or based on things like cravings or convenience.

But it’s not.

Where someone chooses to eat is usually influenced by a detailed restaurant marketing plan. This plan helps make it less of a decision. Despite how many restaurants there are.

But like how many places there are to eat, there are also a lot of different restaurant marketing ideas. So, we’ve put together a list of the essentials.

Here’s how to make sure it’s your restaurant’s doors people start walking through.

1. Start With Your Budget

You can’t do anything without knowing how much money you have to do it with. Equally, you can’t jump into restaurant advertising without knowing how much you can spend on it, either.

It’s common for a restaurant’s marketing plan to cost 3% of what their top-line budget is. And if you have extra cash, some places spend as much as 6%.

2. Understand Your Identity

This is important: know thyself. How can you market something if you don’t really know what it is?

What is it that you’re marketing? What can you offer when people spend their time with you?

Some things to consider:

  • What makes your food special?
  • Your environment and community—what do you contribute to that?
  • Other than your plates, what else do you bring to the table?

A tried and true marketing technique is SWOT. This analyzes your restaurant’s: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.

Spend some time talking these things over with the core group of your restaurant. Use that to better understand your identity.

3. Who’s Your Ideal Customer?

A restaurant’s marketing plan is best executed when you know who your customer is.

When you take the time to understand who’s most likely to come in and enjoy their stay, you’ll have a much better idea of how to market to them.

So, who’s your target audience?

What’s their:

  • Age
  • Location
  • Budget
  • Lifestyle

If you want to work on how to bring someone in, you have to know ‘the’ someone.

For example, is your restaurant’s target customer, typically family groups? Or is your menu tailored to the trendy set that enjoys black squid ink burger buns and the latest in vegan creations?

4. What Are Your Goals?

Let’s get specific.

Here’s where it’s crucial to signify what you’re trying to achieve by your restaurant marketing plan.

How many new customers do you want to see? What new top-line revenue do you want to achieve? How do you want your customer to feel while they’re there, and then when they leave?

These are essential components to consider when you start to construct your restaurant’s advertising intentions.

5. Refine Your Restaurant’s Culture

The culture of a restaurant is one of its most essential qualities.

Your food is only one reason people will keep coming in. They’ll also come for the atmosphere, ambience, service style, and the relationship customers develop with your restaurant.

Understanding what you want your restaurant’s culture to be is a massive part of marketing.

It’s one of the few ways your restaurant will market itself (for free).

6. Refine Your Brand

This is where your identity, customer type, and culture come together.

A restaurant’s brand is much more than the way its name is written on a sign or what colors are used.

A restaurant’s brand is its identity materialized and presented. And it involves several different factors:

  • Online presence (website and social media)
  • Photographs of the restaurant and food
  • How the staff treats your guests
  • How customers feel in your restaurant
  • What customers can expect

Another way to think about this is another marketing technique, the “Four P’s”: Price, Product, Promotion, and Place.

These help you identify the elements of your brand. Think of them like the where, what, why, and how of your business.

7. Social Media

Gone are the days of posters and menus were slid under doors. Most of our information now comes from the internet.

Namely, social media.

It’s where we learn what’s popular, interesting, and what other people already like—which is a great way to choose a restaurant.

How to maintain a social media presence that will bring in new customers:

  • Good pictures that are clean and aesthetically pleasing give a restaurant a more appealing person
  • Repost customer pictures—it makes the customer feel close to the restaurant, and it encourages others to take and post their own pictures
  • Keep up with it: a consistent social media presence keeps your name in people’s ears (and mind)

Even these few simple tactics will boost your content, engage your viewers, and bring in more customers.

8. Emphasize Customer Reviews

Considering the technological literacy of the average customer, reviews are inevitable. Because of that, it’s important to befriend them.

Make sure your online presences (Social Media, Google+ profile, and Yelp) have the most up-to-date information so no customer can have the wrong expectation and then leave a bad review because of it.

But if you do get a bad review, it’s helpful to respond in the most positive, professional manner you can.

Another option is to encourage reviews and tags from customers. If you’re able, it’s a good idea to offer a small discount to those who leave reviews or tag your restaurant.

9. Finally, Make the Restaurant Marketing Plan

It might be useful to research some sample restaurant marketing plans. Next, go ahead and create a document that organizes all of the information we have covered so far.

A rough outline might look like is:

  • Marketing Vision
  • Goals
    • CEO’s Goals
    • Marketing Goals (revenue, money-based)
    • Strategic Goals (social media following or types of local recognition and acclaim)
    • Tactical Goals (specific new marketing tactics you’ll utilize)
  • Purpose
  • Picture (some examples of how your new marketing and advertising will work)

Once you have this information together, you’ll be much better prepared for bringing your plans to light.

10. Dashboard and Progress Tracking

The last part of your restaurant marketing plan is the dashboard where you’ll store and track your information and growth.

Monitor what you’re doing and what progress you’ve made. One way to do that is by monitoring the traffic specifically created by your restaurant marketing plan.

Having a dashboard that tracks your efforts and progress is the most essential part of a plan because it lets you know what’s working and how much.

Keep Them Coming

We know they’ll love your food. You have that taken care of. But it does take a significant effort to help customers choose it.

Just make sure you make a plan and monitor it so you can keep them choosing it. Be sure to check out the rest of our website for other helpful information!

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