A Step-By-Step Guide to Writing a Restaurant Marketing Plan (Free Template)
Whether you’re opening a new restaurant or promoting your existing concept, a restaurant marketing plan can help guide your promotional efforts so that you reach the right customers, and keep them coming back.
Providing customers with a memorable dining experience can get them hooked. However, it’s getting them in the door for the first time, or encouraging them to place that initial online order, that’s the tricky part. Fortunately, our guide and free template to creating a restaurant marketing plan is designed to give you a head start on your marketing efforts.
What’s a Restaurant Marketing Plan and Why Do I Need One?
A restaurant marketing plan is a document that outlines and informs your marketing strategy. It typically covers topics like who your ideal customers are, how you’re going to reach those customers and how you’ll compete with your competitors.
Creating a restaurant marketing plan is a helpful exercise in understanding how your business compares to other similar businesses in your area, including your competitive advantages. While you don’t need a restaurant marketing plan, having one can help you be deliberate – and more successful – in your marketing initiatives.
If you plan to grow, a marketing plan is also an asset if you’re seeking investors. Any smart investor will ask you for your marketing plan in addition to your business plan. Together, these documents prove that you’ve thought through the ins and outs of operating and promoting a restaurant.
Going through the exercise of creating a restaurant marketing plan helps you take all of the creative promotional ideas you have in your head and put them in writing so that you can share your vision with collaborators and hold yourself accountable.
What Should be Included In a Restaurant Marketing Plan?
Here’s a detailed look at what information your restaurant’s marketing plan should contain.
Write a brief introduction to the business that covers the basics, like your restaurant’s name, location, service style and concept.
Then, summarize highlights from the rest of the marketing plan. We suggest writing this part last, so that you can reference the rest of the document.
A restaurant’s mission and values are a large part of your brand identity — it informs your business decisions, branding, voice and processes. Simply put, a mission statement explains why your restaurant exists, and it needs its own space in your restaurant marketing plan.
Unique Selling Proposition
Write down your restaurant’s unique selling propositions (USPs): what makes it different from the competition. Keep your USPs in mind when crafting your marketing strategy; they should inform everything from branding to your social media posts. It might also help to refer back to your mission statement when defining USPs.
Who is your ideal customer?
While you may be tempted to answer with “anyone who eats,” having such a broad client base isn’t conducive to crafting a marketing strategy.
Get really specific. Think about who would get very excited about what only your restaurant can offer. Knowing who you want to target with your marketing efforts will help you create marketing campaigns that resonate with that audience.
For example, you might want to target suburban families that are looking for a quick meal for dinner at a good price. Or you may want to serve high-paid, urban professionals looking for an exclusive restaurant at which to entertain clients.
Explain how your restaurant’s prices compare to competitors’ and how you’ll position your business among the competition.
Let’s say, for example, you run a healthy fast food restaurant chain. Fast food restaurants aren’t known for having healthy options. You can leverage your higher prices to show that you use better ingredients and position yourself as the leader in healthier fast food.
List any and all digital and physical marketing channels that your restaurant uses or plans on using, and explain how you’ll use each channel to achieve your marketing goals. Feel free to borrow these ideas:
Social media: Use Facebook pages, Instagram and Twitter to share updates and encourage customers to make reservations and place online orders. Link to your direct booking and ordering platforms in your bios.
Pro Tip: For marketing channels where you own your presence, like your website and Google listing, push direct booking and ordering instead of third-party platforms. (SevenRooms has a solution for this.) There’s no reason to have a middleman on channels that you have control over!
Your marketing calendar should identify holidays, events, and other important moments. Every season offers a unique opportunity for restaurants to engage customers and drive sales — if you plan ahead and track every date. Create a simple marketing calendar to help ensure you celebrate every important, revenue-generating milestone.
Use this final section to synthesize all you’ve discovered about your business by writing this restaurant marketing plan and come up with marketing tactics. This is the heart of your restaurant marketing plan, so don’t skimp on the details here. Brainstorm actionable strategies like long- and short-term plans across specific channels.
As you strategize your marketing plans, know that confining yourself to one channel alone won’t work. To reach today’s guests, you must be where they are, which means expanding into multiple channels and creating a consistent brand experience. This is called an omnichannel marketing strategy. Read our omnichannel marketing guide to learn how to implement it.
Whatever channels you decide to leverage (and you should choose several), remember to create a consistent brand experience. Here are some ideas to get you started on a successful omnichannel marketing approach:
Email Marketing: Convert first-time customers into regulars by collecting guest data and then using marketing automation software to send targeted marketing messages to guests. Events that might interest them, loyalty program invites, review requests — it’s all fair game.
Social Media by Channel: Some restaurant owners might focus all their time on one channel, while others have the bandwidth to promote across all platforms. No matter where you decide to live online, commit to a consistent posting schedule to generate awareness. Better yet, hire a social media consultant to work with influencers to promote the restaurant.
Loyalty Programs: Even a small loyalty program can boost sales significantly. Brainstorm ways to build a loyalty program unique to your business that caters to your most loyal customers and offers incentives to return.
Press Releases: If you’ve recently opened or rebranded,plan a grand opening event and invite family, friends, press, and influencers to spread the word.
Website/SEO: Hire a digital marketing agency or SEO company to help you optomize your restaurant’s website and drive more traffic.
Paid Ads: A successful social media marketing strategy includes paid ads. While, you don’t need to boost every post, it’s wise to promote your business across specific demographics (this is why guest data is important), to advertise new menu items or take-out options. Hashtags can also help ensure more people see your post.
SMS: Texts have a higher open rate than email. After collecting phone numbers through online booking processes, send targeted text messages advertising offers, promotions and even waitlist notifications.
Events: Whether you host events for all customers or reserve special occasions for your VIPs, celebrations at your venue help generate excitement and word-of-mouth.
Direct Mail: Sending coupons, takeaway offers and event invites to a select group of people in the mail is still an effective marketing strategy. But before you send mailers, be sure your website and other POS systems are prepared to track the success of your campaigns.
Pro Tip: As you build out your marketing strategies, remember to track the success of your campaigns to determine what’s worth allocating more time to and what isn’t. Digital marketing tracking links will help to determine the return on investment (ROI) of each partnership.
To continually engage with and respond to your guests via social media, paid ads, events and via email, you’ll need to establish a marketing budget you can stick to each month or quarter. You don’t need a lofty budget; you can maintain social media platforms for free, or pay to boost your most impactful posts. There’s no set amount we’d recommend, but we do suggest allocating it across your most profitable channels.
Stay Focused With a Restaurant Marketing Plan
Restaurateurs have a lot on their plates. If you don’t develop a marketing plan, it can be easy to get caught up in day-to-day operations and neglect promoting your business. Take the time to put together a restaurant marketing plan. Then, schedule time for regular reviews of your marketing efforts.
SevenRooms’ marketing automation and email software help you put your marketing efforts on autopilot. Request a demo to see how.
Restaurant Marketing FAQs
How Do You Promote a Restaurant Using Digital Marketing?
A successful digital marketing plan for restaurants requires a well-defined mission and target audience. Once you know who you want to target, you can develop strategies to promote your website across social media channels, Google listings and your website.
What Should Be Included in a Restaurant Marketing Plan?
Your marketing plan should list marketing goals/KPIs, deadlines, budgets, long-term objectives, target audiences, core marketing messages, and ways to track your metrics. The plan should be detailed and written to evolve as you grow and learn. Most importantly, your marketing plan should clearly identify your venue’s strategic vision and the action steps you’ll take to achieve them using various marketing efforts.