Your Guide to Restaurant Marketing 101
If you're a restaurant owner, it's easy to get caught up in the weeds of your business. You have menus and bills to pay, employees to manage and guests to serve. But 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. That's why we’ve put together this guide on how restaurants can market themselves online:
Step 1: Define your target audience and know where to find them.
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; instead, you need a clear idea of your target audience, where they are located, and what they want from experience. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Define your 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?
- Know where to find them. Once you know who they are, it’s time to find out where in the world they hang out. This can be as simple as using social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram; or it can mean using specialized search engines like Google Trends that track searches for specific keywords related to restaurants and food establishments (such as “restaurants near me”).
Once you've identified these things, it's time for another important step!
Step 2: Set your goals.
The most important thing to do when creating a marketing plan is to set goals. It's important to define your 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.
You should define your goals before you start and make sure they are measurable. For example, if your goal is to become a better chef, then it's important that you can measure how well you're progressing toward achieving this goal.
Before you begin any marketing campaign, set real numbers that will help guide all aspects—including advertising costs—of what needs doing during an entire year-long effort (or however long the campaign lasts). Then make sure everyone involved knows what those goals are so there aren't any surprises along the way!
Don't worry if other restaurants are or aren’t doing something similar—you don't need to follow their lead if that's not part of your strategy. Instead, think about what would push your business forward by making its mission clear. Is this a way for me or my team members or friends who eat here often enough on weekends when they're not at work? Or maybe it's an opportunity for me as owner/executive chef at this establishment where everyone knows my name.
Step 3: Create a marketing budget.
A marketing budget is the sum of all of your expenses for promoting your business. This can include things like advertising, PR, and social media campaigns.
How much should you spend on marketing?
There's no set amount. It depends on how much revenue you generate each month and what kind of return on investment (ROI) you would like to see from that investment. The more money spent on marketing, the better chance of generating ROI—but other factors come into play. Such as, how frequently customers need content delivered versus how many people will see each piece of content. As well as, how many different channels are available for reaching potential customers; etc., so these numbers aren't set in stone just yet!
How do I create my marketing budget?
First, you need to know your monthly revenue. How many customers do you have on average and how much are they paying each month? If you don't have any customers yet, this will be a rough estimation. Once you know that number, decide how much of it can go toward marketing expenses.
Step 4: Create a schedule that works for you.
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.
Step 5: Measure your results.
As you proceed with your marketing campaign, you’ll want to go back and take a look at the goals you set. This will help you stay on track, as well as see the progress you’ve made. By measuring your results you’ll be able to improve your campaign along the way! This can also be a big motivator to keep going.
Your marketing activities should be focused on achieving tangible results that can be measured in some way by external parties. The best marketing strategies are those which provide an ROI (Return On Investment) as measured against KPIs (Key Performance Indicators).
Step 6: Make modifications and adjustments as needed.
Once you've got a sense of your target audience and the most relevant information, it's time to make adjustments. You'll want to tweak the messaging on your website and social media channels so that people who visit them know exactly what they're getting into when they come in for lunch or dinner.
This is also an opportunity to check in with other businesses within your industry—the ones that have been around longer than yours, perhaps? If so, ask them what sort of things help them succeed (for example strong email marketing campaigns). Then try implementing some of those same strategies into your business plan!
Marketing your restaurant can be easy.
Marketing your restaurant doesn't have to be hard. 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 even then I recommend getting started with something simple first before jumping into full-blown projects that require more than just a few hours of free time. And 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 important 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. And because it’s such a crucial part of running a successful business, it’s wise to do so as soon as possible after opening up shop. With this guide in hand, though, we hope that you’ll be able to navigate the waters without feeling overwhelmed!