Blog / August 11, 2021
How to Create 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 to creating a restaurant marketing plan and free template are designed to give you a head start on your marketing efforts.
Keep reading to discover:
- What a restaurant marketing plan is and why you need one
- What to include in your marketing plan
- Our free restaurant marketing plan template
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 who your competitors are.
Creating a restaurant marketing plan is a helpful exercise in understanding your business, how it compares to other similar businesses in your area and what your competitive advantages are. While you don’t need a restaurant marketing plan, having one can help you be deliberate – and more successful – in your marketing initiatives.
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.
Explain your restaurant’s marketing goals and what key performance indicators (KPIs) you’ll be using to measure success.
Need inspiration? Here are some sample goals to get you started:
- Goal 1: Reach new customers
- KPI: Have 100 customers attend the restaurant’s grand opening celebration.
- Goal 2: Increase customer retention
- KPI: Double the number of customer accounts in the restaurant’s CRM
- Goal 3: Boost brand awareness
- KPI: Increase the restaurant’s social media following by 15% every quarter.
Check out how Brodeur’s Bistro added 9K guest profiles to their CRM in 6 months with SevenRooms.
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.
Research your market. Get to know the competition to source ideas from them and understand how to make your business stand out.
Answer questions like:
- What similar businesses already exist in the area?
- How does your restaurant differ from them?
- How can your restaurant improve on what similar restaurants are doing?
Conduct a SWOT analysis to identify your restaurant’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
Consider the following:
- Strengths: Internal attributes that can help your business.
- Ex: You use your grandma’s original recipes from her homeland.
- Ex: Your executive chef has trained with one of the best chefs in the world or has won a Michelin star.
- Weaknesses: Internal attributes that can stand in the way of your goals.
- Ex: You don’t have experience running a restaurant.
- Ex: You’ve never developed recipes before.
- Ex. Your restaurant’s location does not get heavy foot traffic.
- Opportunities: External attributes that can help your business.
- Ex: Falling commercial rent prices mean you’ll be able to afford a prime location for your restaurant.
- Ex: Matcha is rising in popularity, so this is the perfect time to open a matcha cafe.
- Threats: External attributes that can stand in the way of your goals.
- Ex: Obtaining a liquor license in your area is difficult.
- Ex: A labor shortage means staff will be hard to come by.
This exercise will help you be more aware of advantages you should leverage and obstacles you need to overcome.
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.
Include your restaurant’s branding guidelines in your marketing plan.
Incorporate key branding assets, such as:
- Your logo and an explanation of what it means
- Your brand’s colors
- Your restaurant’s mission, vision and values
Take inspiration from burgers. beer. bourbon., which makes its branding guidelines publicly available online.
Pricing and positioning strategy
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, 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.
- Email newsletters: Use restaurant marketing automation software that can send customers hyper-personalized marketing offers, automatically.
- Printed flyers: Reach customers at home by mailing them your menu or a special offer.
- Your restaurant’s website: Optimize your website to convert visitors into guests through online orders and reservations. Pop ups and prominent buttons will help.
- Google listings: Maximize your Google My Business and Google Maps listings by adding buttons that allow visitors to place orders and make reservations.
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. There’s no reason to have a middle man on channels that you have control over!
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. Develop several actionable strategies you want to act on. They can be long or short-term plans. Your marketing plan can and should change as your business grows.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Convert first-time customers into regulars by collecting guest data and using marketing automation software to send targeted marketing messages to guests.
- Hire a social media consultant to work with influencers to promote the restaurant.
- Plan a grand opening event and invite family, friends, press, and influencers to spread the word.
- Hire a digital marketing agency or SEO company to help you optomize your restaurant’s website and drive more traffic.
Pro tip: If working with social media influencers, use individual booking tracking links to determine the return on investment (ROI) of each partnership. This helps you determine how many reservations an influencer drove to your business, and assign a dollar value to the partnership, especially if you’re paying them more than just a free meal.
Restaurant marketing plan template
Now that you know what to include in a restaurant marketing plan, here’s a blank template to fill out.
Marketing plan highlights:
Explain your restaurant’s marketing goals and the key performance indicators you’ll be using to measure success.
Who is your ideal customer?
What similar businesses already exist in your area?
How does your restaurant differ from them?
How can your restaurant improve on what similar restaurants are doing?
Unique selling proposition (USP)
What makes your restaurant different from the competition?
Brand mission, vision and values:
Pricing and positioning strategy
Explain how your restaurant’s prices compare to competitors and how you’ll position your business among the competition.
List any marketing channels where your restaurant is present.
Actionable marketing tactics you plan to implement in the short-term and/or long-term.
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 software helps you put your marketing efforts on autopilot. Request a demo to see how.