Restaurant Marketing 101: Your Go-To Restaurant Marketing Plan

This is your six-step guide to marketing your restaurant the right way! You won’t want to miss it.
Amanda Hamel

If you're a restaurant owner, it's easy to get caught up in the weeds of your business. You have menus to design, bills to pay, employees to manage, and guests to serve. When you're focused on what's right in front of you, some things can slip past your radar—even if they could make all the difference for your restaurant's bottom line. 

Your restaurant marketing plan shouldn't be one of them. Digital marketing for restaurants can set your brand apart and improve guests' dining experience. Much like running a restaurant, orchestrating a marketing plan is better when you have a clear goal of what you want to accomplish, and all the pieces work together towards the current objective.

How To Make A Marketing Plan For A Restaurant

Step 1: Define Your Target Audience

The first step to making your restaurant marketing campaign successful is to know who you're trying to reach. You can't just start posting announcements and hoping for the best; you need to send highly personalized messages to your target audience. You should aim to meet their needs and provide them with an experience that surprises and delights. Here are some questions to get you started:

  • Who is my target audience? Who are you trying to reach? Do you want to attract a certain demographic or promote your business in a specific area of town?
  • What are my audience's needs? Once you know who they are, it's time to find out what they want and expect out of a dining experience. While people who frequent upscale restaurants have a higher average spend than most, it's only worth pursuing those people if they're going to enjoy your restaurant and its offerings. 

With our target audience in mind, we can begin to shape our marketing goals.

Step 2: Set Marketing Goals

When creating a marketing plan, the most important thing to do is set goals. You should have a specific vision for how much revenue and awareness you want the restaurant to generate in the next 3-6 months.

Define your goals before you start. Typically, in marketing, we want our goals to be SMART: 

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-Bound

Setting SMART marketing goals helps create objectives that you can achieve to push your restaurant forward. No more moving goalposts, no more trying to guess what you wanted to achieve or remember who was responsible for each goal. Proper planning and organization allow you to push your restaurant's marketing plan forward without wasting excessive time. 

Step 3: Use The Right Tools

Much like a kitchen, your marketing plan is often defined by the tools within it— doubly so if all your marketing tools are under one roof. One of the largest benefits of a well-run marketing plan is the data that comes with it; once you have the data to understand your customers, you can easily increase the lifetime value that customer provides. 

This is why tools that combine your POS with your marketing are so valuable. Housing all your guest data in one place makes it infinitely easier to sync promo calendars, special offers, new menu items, or anything else you want to provide. Beyond giving you powerful tools to increase your bottom line, having everything in one place makes everything far more efficient and respectful of your time.

Step 4: Create and Execute The Perfect Marketing Strategy

As you plan your marketing strategy, consider the following factors:

The hours of your restaurant. Are you open for lunch and dinner? Or only for breakfast? Is it a takeout or carry-out establishment? If so, how does that affect how you'll schedule your marketing activities?

Your location. Do you have a large geographic area to cover with ads in magazines and newspapers? Or are there only a few neighborhoods where people can find out about your business on their initiative? In that case, it might be best to focus on reaching out directly through social media instead of spending money on outdoor advertising materials like flyers or posters.

Nailing these details is crucial to the success of your enterprise. While serving ads from 6 AM to noon might be more cost-efficient, that provides little value if your customer base is only thinking about you during the evening. 

Step 5: Measure Your Results

As you proceed with your marketing campaign, you'll want to take a look at the objectives you set. This will help you stay on track and see the progress you've made. By measuring your results, you'll be able to improve your campaign along the way! 

Checking your progress frequently allows you to make tiny course corrections. It's far better to be ahead of your marketing efforts instead of trying to catch up while they run ahead of you. 

Marketing your restaurant can be easy.

Marketing your restaurant doesn't have to be complicated. It's a process, and you can expect to make adjustments along the way as you learn what works for your business.

You'll need patience, a willingness to learn, and an open mind if you want to succeed in this industry. You'll also need some basic skills like social media marketing or website building if you don't already have them—but remember, you don't have to do this alone. There are plenty of resources and marketing experts who would love to see your business succeed.

With all these tips, you're well on your way to getting your restaurant marketing campaign off the ground. There is no doubt that marketing is vital for restaurants of all kinds—from your local diner or hole-in-the-wall spot to the big chains with thousands of locations around the globe. Curious how tech can transform your marketing efforts? See how Hot Table supercharged its marketing by moving all its marketing tools under one roof.