Creating A Restaurant Marketing Plan: All You Need to Know

Published by
Kristen Dahlin

“What is the name of your restaurant?… I’ve never heard of it.” Eeekkk!!! Those words are like fingers dragging across a chalkboard for a restaurant owner, right? 

Sadly, restaurant owners run into this frequently. And it doesn’t matter if you have the best food idea since sliced bread; if nobody knows about it – you’ll be a flop. Luckily, we’re here to make sure that doesn’t happen to you!

There is no doubt that the restaurant industry is competitive and crowded. There are over 1 million restaurants in the United States. So, if you thought having a restaurant marketing plan wasn’t necessary, let’s just say this…you might not be in business long. 

Think about it like this; you have put your whole heart into this restaurant, thousands of sleepless nights, been stressed to the max too many times, and let’s not even talk about the number of tears you have shed or money you’ve invested into it. So, why would you want to waste all that effort by not marketing your business?

Because we’re here to tell you that old saying, “If you build it, they will come.” Well, it’s not true today. 

In our modern times, you can build it, bake it, cook it, and serve it, but if no one knows about it, then what? How can you survive, much less thrive?

Here are some statistics that may help put things into perspective: approximately 60% of restaurants fail in the first year of operation, and 80% fail within the first five years. Ouch!

But don’t get discouraged. The 20% that survive do go on to have great success! Being an entrepreneur is an incredible experience and can be hugely profitable when done right. But, you can’t do it without a restaurant marketing plan. Because in today’s consumer culture, after you build it, you have to get them. 

So, if you’re going to stand out from other restaurants and grow, you need a marketing plan. And don’t worry! We understand that this can feel overwhelming with the rise of new technologies and social media marketing. But with this restaurant marketing plan guide, you’ll quickly be on your way to hearing the cash register cha-ching-ching….oh, wait! They don’t do that anymore, do they? Well, you’ll be able to watch the money roll in through your hand-held devices. And what an incredible sight it will be. 

By the end of this restaurant marketing guide, you’ll have the tools and methods you need to build a dedicated and adoring following -a customer base that helps to skyrocket your restaurant’s success.

Providing an extraordinary dining experience and creating strong customer relationships will set you apart from the competition, and the best place to start is by developing your restaurant marketing strategies. Effective marketing makes all the difference in bringing guests back again and again through digital channels, email campaigns, advertising, and more. 

Let’s start with the basics.

Step-By-Step Guide On How To Create Your Restaurant Marketing Plan

You’ve got the idea for a fantastic restaurant that people will love, and we’re going to give you some tools to help you market it and skyrocket your success!  

Identify Your Target Audience

Understanding your target audience before developing your restaurant marketing strategy is essential. Every restaurant fits into a niche and has a target audience. Next, think about the types of customers that will be drawn to your restaurant model. Are they college students, professionals, young, older, families, singles, and sports fanatics are just a few examples of what could make up your target audience. 

You can start understanding your restaurant’s target audience by answering these questions. 

  • What demographic traits define them? (Sex, age, marital status, and household size)
  • What are its geographical characteristics? (Nation, region, mobility, means of transport…)
  • What personality and lifestyle do they have?
  • Where and how do they access the Internet?
  • Do they use social networks?
  • What is your computer experience?

Analyze Your Competition

Analyzing your competition is a great way to know what is working and not working in your sector. You can observe what actions they carry out, promotions they offer, and even menu additions and subtractions to gauge the niche. And then, check out what they are doing in their online channels to reach customers and add this information to your restaurant marketing plan.

Here are some great questions to ask to help you analyze your competition. 

  • Do they use social networks? Which ones? What type of content do they publish? What kind of engagement do they receive? Do you use paid advertising (Social Ads)?
  • Do they have a website? How are they positioned (before or after you) in search engines (rankings)? How is the web design of your restaurant? Do they advertise with Google Adwords?
  • Do they have a newsletter system? What content do they send? How often do they send it?
  • Do they have a blog? What types of articles do they share? How frequently do they post?

Just remember, you are “analyzing the competition”; you aren’t trying to be them. But, these questions can help you find your ideal marketing strategies that will work from the beginning. 

SWOT Analysis

This is a biggie, and it can be tough to do because you are analyzing your own business. However, in preparing a restaurant marketing plan, you always have to look internally and at your competition. Performing a SWOT analysis will help you determine the strengths and weaknesses of your restaurant internally and the opportunities and threats externally.

Including a good SWOT in the Marketing Plan for restaurants allows you to take advantage of the opportunities detected and be prepared against threats. 

The acronym SWOT refers to:

  • Strengths
  • Weaknesses
  • Opportunities
  • Threats

Set Your Marketing Goals

Setting goals is one of the most challenging tasks every business leader has. It’s a task that affects your business’s success and growth and can have a significant impact on your staff, including their morale and motivation. However, it’s a careful balance because you’ll be perceived as an unrealistic tyrant if you set goals that are too lofty. And small goals can give the impression that you lack vision or direction.

Even perfect goals without the right marketing plan will leave your restaurant team confused and frustrated.

To set a definite goal, you can follow the SMART method. This acronym is used in most businesses to keep goal-setting simple and effective. 

Here is an easy guide on how to use the SMART method. All your goals have to be:

  • Specific. What do you want to get?
  • Measurable. Can you measure its efficiency?
  • Achievable. Are the goals reasonable?
  • Realistic and profitable. Do you have the resources and means to achieve them? Do they benefit you in any way?
  • Time-limited. When do you have to get it done?

Define A Strategy And Your Distribution Channels

A distribution strategy will help to improve the way your customers interact with your business, ultimately leading to greater customer satisfaction and repeat business. Cha-Ching! It can also assist you in streamlining your firm to increase efficiency. This method can increase earnings by making the company more efficient and improving customer happiness.

You’ve already established the groundwork. It’s now time to develop a restaurant marketing strategy. And don’t worry, this won’t take long. You can create a successful marketing plan for a restaurant in less than 30 minutes to get back to what you love – cooking. Choose a handful of these techniques to execute your first marketing strategy based on your goals, client profiles, and strengths:

  • To publicize and promote your restaurant and brand, services, and products using Social Networks, Mobile Marketing, and Email Marketing.

  • For Sales generation, use SEO, SEM, Email Marketing, and Blogging.

Restaurant Marketing Ideas for Social Networks

One of the best ways to market your restaurant is to be where the people are. And in today’s world, that means you have to be present on social media cause, let’s face it-everyone is there. So, an essential piece of your marketing plan for your restaurant must include a social media marketing strategy. And we promise it’s not that difficult. With this social media marketing guide, you’ll be marketing your restaurant like a pro in no time. 

There are a variety of different channels for restaurants to do marketing. Here are some specific ideas and tactics you can do for marketing for restaurants on social media:

Facebook

Facebook is an ideal marketing tool for those restaurant managers with little time, but it’s not a set-and-forget tool. First, you have to establish a presence, which means posting on Facebook regularly.

And that doesn’t mean posting every day, but at the minimum, you should post at least three times each week. That way, you stay on their mind. And on their mind, means they’ll want to pop in to see you.  

In addition, in recent years, Facebook is putting more emphasis on businesses that invest in advertising.

Therefore, you should make a minimum investment in advertising through Facebook Ads to be visible. This can include launch offers or promotions, special events, and new additions to the menu. In return for your advertising on Facebook, your visibility should increase. 

Twitter

Twitter is a social network with tremendous reach, but it does come with some negatives. With the character restriction, sometimes messages can be too abbreviated to fully understand, resulting in some negativity.

We must also say that many opinions and mentions, both good and bad, slip through this platform to the customer’s side. 

Now, don’t get us wrong…Twitter can be a giant in marketing your restaurant, but it will probably take more of a time investment from you to make sure your message is clear and to mediate the comments and opinions. 

With any restaurant marketing strategy, it’s essential to think about the advantages or disadvantages that Twitter can cause us for your restaurant.

Then make an educated decision on whether you want to be there or not.

Café Mambo in Ibiza frequently posts pictures, teases events, and discusses new offerings on Twitter for their followers. 👀 👉

https://twitter.com/Mamboibiza/status/1527227666608312320?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

Instagram

Oh, the Gram! Any restaurant can take advantage of Instagram by uploading photos of their best creations.

And in the day and age where customers want to see the food before eating it, this can be an excellent tool for you! Not to mention, how many times do you see customers taking photos of their food to share on Instagram? It happens all the time, right? Well, guess what! They are marketing for you! 

It’s genius, really. If you can create a customer loyalty program around them sharing your food and drinks, you’ll win a customer for life. 

And don’t forget, on Instagram, you can expand by uploading stories with live moments that give much more visibility or publish with popular hashtags in the sector.

Photos of your food and drinks to behind-the-scene shots, action shots with your mixologist, and any live music or event you host are great ways to reach your target customer. 

Check out Keen’s Steakhouse (NYC) showcasing how their famed Porterhouse Steak for two is prepared and plated on Instagram for some inspo! 👀 👉

Pinterest

Ok, we’ll let you know…Pinterest isn’t necessarily a social media channel; it’s also a search engine. So how do people use search engines in tandem with social media? Luckily, we have you covered. Our Pinterest marketing suite of products is extensive, and we have tons of great content to guide you through the process. However, here are some quick tips to get started. 

So, we have news for you! You need to be present on Pinterest! And here are some great ideas to market your restaurant on Pinterest:

  1. Post your menu
  2. Add the following restaurant Pinterest board ideas to your profile (or come up with your own!): Recipes, Cooking Tips, Drinks, Cocktail Recipes, Wine Pairings, Restaurant Decor, and Restaurant Design.
  3. Pin your own content and repin relevant content to your boards!
  4. Create a blog Pinterest board with pins that link to your blog posts
  5. Add user-generated content (think: food pics!)

Check out how Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants share recipes from bartenders at their restaurants and hotels on their blog with their Pinterest, for some inspo! 👀 👉



TripAdvisor

This is on marketing idea for restaurants that many miss. So, if you want a step up on your competition – be present on TripAdvisor. Here, you can successfully manage user opinions, which are very valuable for potential customers.

You can share photos of your food and restaurant and add information about events, activities, etc. In addition, people use TripAdvisor to see what other people think about your restaurant. So, it’s an excellent place to shine! 

Screen Door Eastside in Portland has added their menu, high-quality photographs, and information about their restaurant on TripAdvisor.

So, what now?

Boom! That’s it! How to market your restaurant like a rockstar. With this restaurant marketing guide, there is no doubt that you’ll quickly be on the way to seeing your seats filled all the time, not just at peak times. As a reminder, this is what you should consider when planning a marketing strategy for your restaurant:

  • Define your audience
  • External analysis (competitors)
  • Internal analysis (SWOT)
  • Set goals
  • Define your channels
  • Understand what tools you may need to be effective

Most importantly, you need to define a specific strategy for each marketing channel where you want to have a presence. And remember to be uniquely you, so they fall in love with what makes you unique- your food and the experience. 

Psst! This Pin was made in seconds with Tailwind Create. Try it for yourself

Kristen Dahlin

Kristen Dahlin is the Content Marketing Manager at Tailwind — your new Marketing team, helping you create social media designs, schedule posts, and optimize across Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest with one easy-to-use social media management tool. Kristen lives in rural Oklahoma with her husband Kyle, daughter Sophie, boxer Lila, and a very temperamental flower garden.

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Kristen Dahlin

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