​​How to Write A Restaurant Marketing Plan: Pro Tips & Examples

Luke Januschka

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May 27, 2024
​​How To Write A Restaurant Marketing Plan
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On a bustling evening in your restaurant, as laughter fills the air and your regulars savor their favorite dishes, a moment of contemplation arises. What if, one day, these familiar faces were tempted away by a new café down the street, offering something scrumptious and unique? Suddenly, the idea of depending only on your loyal patrons feels like a gamble. And you realize the importance of leveraging effective marketing tactics to expand your customer base. 

You sit down to create a marketing plan but find yourself overwhelmed, unsure where to start because effective marketing goes beyond simple promotions or social media engagement. It involves sharing your restaurant’s story in a manner that connects with not only your current patrons but also those who are yet to experience what you have to offer. 

Many restaurant owners find themselves at this juncture, trying to find the right balance between maintaining tradition and embracing new marketing methods. If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone. Our goal is to assist you in creating a marketing plan with the help of examples that not only highlights your restaurant’s speciality but also outlines practical steps to ensure your story reaches the right audience. 

The Anatomy of a Successful Restaurant Marketing Plan

Just as chefs must be familiar with every ingredient before creating a dish, you too must understand the diverse elements of a marketing plan before creating one. Each component of your marketing strategy, like ingredients in a recipe, should work in harmony to achieve the desired outcome. 

Omitting even a single aspect can diminish the effectiveness of your efforts, much like how skipping an essential spice or herb can alter the flavor profile of a dish entirely. Here are a handful of ingredients required to cook up a scrumptious marketing plan:

1. Market Analysis

Market analysis is all about deep research, figuring out who your competitors are, what they’re up to, and what your ideal customers really like. It’s about using tools like social media analytics or even good old census data to get the lowdown on who’s eating what, where, and why.

2. Brand Positioning

Picture your restaurant like a character in a story. What aspects would make it stand out? Take Papa John’s, for example. They’re all about “Better Ingredients. Better Pizza.” It’s not just a catchy phrase; it was their battle cry, thanks to the founder, John Schnatter, who was obsessed with quality, right down to the sauce. That’s the kind of vibe that gets people talking and keeps them coming back.

Papa Johns branding message

3. Budget Allocation

Your marketing budget is like a pie, and you need to slice that pie up giving the biggest pieces to the spots your customers love – the story and flavors of your food. But remember to save a slice for the future, like investing in strategies that keep customers loyal or get the community involved. That’s how you make sure you’re not just spending money, but you’re building something that lasts.

How To Create Your Own Restaurant Marketing Plan: A Step-by-Step Guide ​

Beyond a clear understanding of a successful marketing plan, you need to know how to personalize each of them according to your restaurant’s goals and objectives. Here’s how we can do this in a step-by-step manner:

Step 1: Conduct a SWOT Analysis

Analyzing the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats – or SWOT – is a fundamental aspect of restaurant marketing. This framework allows marketers to gain a comprehensive understanding of their business’ USPs and loose wings.   Here’s how to explore this:

1. Strengths:  These are the positive attributes and resources that give your restaurant a competitive advantage in the market. Got a unique menu or ambience that aligns with a specific type of customers? Make sure you’ve penned your strengths down to leverage them later on.

2. Weaknesses:  Next, pinpoint areas of weakness within your restaurant that may hinder your ability to achieve your marketing objectives. Be honest in assessing where improvements are needed. For instance, maybe your staff needs more training or the seating arrangement is a bit off.

3. Opportunities:  Explore external opportunities that your restaurant can capitalize on to drive growth and success. This could include emerging food trends, local events, partnerships, expansion into new markets, food delivery services or social media influencer partnerships. 

4. Threats:  Threats are factors that pose challenges or risks to your restaurant’s success. This could include intense competition from other restaurants, economic downturns, changing consumer preferences or dietary trends, etc. Develop strategies to mitigate risks and protect your restaurant’s reputation and profitability.

By conducting a SWOT analysis, you lay the foundation for a targeted and effective restaurant marketing plan that maximizes your chances of success in the competitive culinary landscape.

Step 2: Identify Your Target Audience

Finding ideal customers for a restaurant marketing plan

A common mistake numerous restaurants do when marketing is trying to reach out to anyone and everyone. Not every customer out there aligns with your restaurant’s values, delicacies, and purpose. Imagine a seafood restaurant’s promotional ad landing up on the feed of a vegan customer! 

To avoid such scenarios, you need to have a clear understanding of your ideal customers and “target” your marketing efforts towards getting them to try out your restaurant. Here are a few ways to identify your target audience: 

1. Define Objectives:  Start by clearly defining what you want to achieve with your market research. Are you looking to expand your customer base, introduce a new menu, or just get a better grasp of your current clientele? This will guide your research direction.

2. Gather Secondary Data:  Doing secondary research involves collecting information from industry reports, market studies, competitor websites, and online customer reviews. This data can give you insights into broad market trends, customer preferences, and potential gaps in the market.

3. Conduct Primary Research:  Now, it’s time to engage directly with your current and potential customers. You can do this through surveys, interviews, and focus groups. Tools like social media polls, customer feedback forms, and direct observations in and around your restaurant can offer valuable insights into specific customer preferences and behaviors.

4. Segment Your Audience:  You’ll need to segment your audience based on the data you’ve collected. This means dividing them into distinct groups with common characteristics like demographics (age, gender, income level), psychographics (lifestyle, values, interests), and behavior (purchasing habits, dining frequency).

5. Create Customer Personas:  You’ll need to create semi-fictional characters that represent a segment of your target audience. Each personna will include a name, background, and detailed preferences. This helps in visualizing the needs and motivations of your potential customers.

6. Analyze Competitors: Look at who your competitors are targeting and understand their strengths and weaknesses. This can help you find niches they may have overlooked or areas where you can differentiate your restaurant.

Step 3: Choose Your Marketing Strategies

From running campaigns on social media to leveraging emails and bulletin boards, there are a multitude of channels to market your restaurant. Here’s how to focus your marketing strategies in the right direction:

1. Align Strategies with Customer Personas:  Remember those detailed profiles you created? Well, now’s the time to put them to good use. Tailor your marketing strategies to resonate with every persona. For instance, if you have health-conscious millennials in your mix, think about running digital campaigns highlighting your healthy menu options.

2. Consider the Customer Journey:  Map out how each persona goes from being aware of your restaurant to making a decision. And create marketing strategies that connect with customers at every step of their journey. For instance, use social media advertising to build awareness, targeted email marketing to nurture interest, and promotions or discounts to seal the deal..

3. Integrate Online and Offline Marketing:  Mix up your digital efforts with traditional methods for a well-rounded approach. For example, if you’re targeting both young professionals and local families, use social media to attract professionals while tapping into community bulletin boards or local newspapers to reach families. 

Step 4: Set Your Marketing Budget

Once you have a clear picture of which marketing channels to focus on, it becomes easy to allocate a budget for the same. Here’s how you can do it in a systematic manner:

1. Assess Costs and Expected ROI:  Look at how much each marketing strategy costs and what you expect to gain from it. Sometimes, spending a lot doesn’t mean you’ll earn a lot. So, find that sweet spot where impact meets cost-effectiveness while considering both short-term wins and long-term brand growth.

2. Include a Mix of Fixed and Variable Costs: Remember, some costs stay fixed (like website maintenance, subscription-based tools), while others will be variable (ad spend, promotional events). Make sure your budget covers the fixed costs while giving you room to adjust variable costs based on performance and seasonal needs.

3. Consider Timing and Seasonality:  Certain times of the year demand more marketing push, like holidays or local events. Plan your budget to accommodate these fluctuations, making sure that you can capitalize on high-traffic periods.

Step 5: It’s time for execution!

You’ll start by identifying the team members responsible for each aspect of the marketing plan. And once you have your team in place, you’ll need to clearly define tasks and responsibilities for each team member. This will ensure everyone stays aligned throughout the marketing plan completion.

Set up a process and involve your workforce in estimating how much time they will be requiring for the completion of each task. And when your estimates are ready, you can integrate them into a marketing calendar, using project management tools or software for better visibility, and proceed with assigning the tasks to respective team members.

A Marketing Plan Template To Get You Started

We’ve got you covered with this amazing marketing plan template, which you can customize effortlessly for your restaurant. 

1. Restaurant Name:

2. Executive Summary: [Provide a brief overview of the restaurant’s current marketing initiatives, objectives, and target audience.]

3. Market Analysis:

4. Competitive Landscape:

            Strengths:

            Weaknesses:

            Opportunities:

            Threats:

5. Customer Demographics:

            Age:

           Gender:

           Income Level:

           Dining Preferences:

6. Brand Positioning:

          Unique Selling Proposition (USP):

          Brand Story:

7. Marketing Goals and Objectives: [Define specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound objectives for marketing efforts.]

8. Marketing Strategies and Channels:

          Digital Marketing:

                      Examples:

         Traditional Marketing:

                      Examples:

9. Budget Allocation:

          Total Marketing Budget:

          Digital Marketing:

         Traditional Marketing:

10. Implement and Schedule Your Marketing Activities: [Develop a timeline for executing marketing initiatives, including launch dates and promotional events.]

11. Measure and Adjust Your Plan: [Track key performance indicators (KPIs) and adjust strategies based on performance data.]

Tracking Your Marketing Plan's Performance Effortlessly

Not every step in your marketing plan might bring you the results you were expecting.

Which is why it’s important to track your progress. 

This way, you can identify the source of deviations and setbacks and resolve them instantly. 

Here are some KPIs that could come in handy while measuring your marketing plan’s performance: 

1. Customer Lifetime Value (CLV):  This figure helps you understand how much money a customer is likely to bring into your restaurant over the whole time they keep coming back. It’s a way of seeing the big picture of a customer’s worth beyond just a single visit. Knowing the CLV can help you decide how much effort and money to put into keeping your customers happy and coming back for more.

2. Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC):  This is basically the amount you’re spending to get a new customer to walk through your doors or place an order online. The customer acquisition cost can be calculated by dividing your total marketing expenses by the number of new customers you’ve gotten in a certain period.

Customer Acquisition Cost Formula

3. Return on Investment (ROI):  This is all about understanding the bang you get for your buck with your marketing efforts. You calculate ROI by comparing the money you make from your marketing campaigns to how much you spent on them. It’s like investing in stocks and seeing how much profit you made in comparison to your initial investment.

4. Conversion Rate:  Imagine you’ve got a bunch of people visiting your website or peeking at your menu online. The conversion rate tells you what percentage of those viewers actually end up buying something or booking a table. A high conversion rate means you’re turning window shoppers into paying customers effectively.

5. Online Engagement Metrics:  These are the numbers that show you how people are interacting with your restaurant online. We’re talking about website visits, how many people like or comment on your social media posts, email open rates, and how many click on the links you share. High engagement means people are not just seeing your content; they’re interested and interacting with it.

5. Customer Feedback and Reviews: This is the goldmine of what your customers think about their experiences at your restaurant. Feedback can come directly to you, but online reviews on platforms like Google, Yelp, and TripAdvisor are where many potential customers get their first impression. In fact, 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.

You can track these KPIs effectively with tools like Google Analytics, social media analytics platforms, and customer relationship management (CRM) systems. We recommend regularly analyzing your KPI data to identify trends, measure progress towards your marketing goals, and make data-driven decisions to optimize your restaurant marketing strategy.

The No-Stress Way to Plan Your Restaurant's Marketing Success

Your restaurant’s got something special, right? 

That secret sauce, the vibe, the stories behind your dishes—these are your golden tickets. 

But here’s the thing: the world of marketing is like a big, bustling kitchen. It’s always changing, with new trends popping up and customer tastes evolving. 

So, your marketing plan? It’s got to be more like a daily special board—flexible and ready to change based on what’s fresh and what your customers are digging. Your restaurant’s story is your secret ingredient. It’s what makes people not just eat but feel. Share the tales of your dishes, the passion of your team, and the journey that got you here. 

And remember, building a brand that people love and keep coming back to takes time. If you come across any challenges along the way, guidance is just around the corner with Restaurant Digital. We’re here to help you turn marketing challenges into exciting opportunities, guiding you every step of the way as you share your restaurant’s unique story with the world.

FAQs

What are the 4 P's of a restaurant?

The 4 P’s of a restaurant encompass Product (the food, drink, and service offered), Price (how much customers pay for the products and services), Place (the location of the restaurant and its distribution channels), and Promotion (the strategies used to advertise the restaurant to potential customers). Together, these elements help restaurants create a cohesive marketing strategy that appeals to their target audience.

What are some examples of marketing plans?

Marketing plan examples include social media campaigns on Instagram, blogging about kitchen insights, email newsletters with special offers, and local SEO strategies to improve Google search visibility. Each of these plans targets different aspects of a restaurant’s outreach to build brand awareness, engage with customers, and drive sales.

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Luke Januschka
Luke Januschka is a pivotal partner at Restaurant Growth, where he spearheads strategies that have generated over 30 million dollars in tracked sales for our valued restaurant clients.
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