Lots of people dream about opening and running a restaurant.

The idea of serving delicious meals to diners is attractive, and so is making a profit out of work you love. The reality, though, is that there’s more to running a restaurant than just making and serving the food.

It’s a real business, which takes management skills and marketing efforts to run successfully. Bring hungry diners to your door with a restaurant marketing plan that delivers results without breaking your budget.

Here’s how to go about it.

Step 1: Develop Marketing Goals

Create a restaurant marketing plan that puts your venue on the map. Start by identifying the goals that will enable you to achieve your vision. These could include specific marketing activities such as:

  • Increasing the number of diners who come into your restaurant daily, weekly and monthly by 30%.
  • Growing the amount of revenue you bring in by a certain amount or percentage.
  • Improving the service you give diners in your target market so they provide good online reviews.

To achieve these objectives, you’ll need to come up with good marketing ideas to help you get there.

Step 2: Define Your Target Audience

It’s important for a restaurant owner to understand why people choose your venue, so you can take steps to make it more popular. Identifying your current diners enables you to make note of all the facts you know about them. Even if you don’t know their names, this includes their ages, genders, the type of jobs and industries they work in, and the areas where they live.

Think about the books and magazines they likely read. Consider where they get information, and whether they use digital channels such as TV, internet, newspapers, radio talk shows, outdoor advertising, word of mouth, and social media. Figure out the websites and blogs they are most likely to visit and try to find out what other restaurants compete with you for their business.

Define your target audience - Polkadot Communications

Step 3: Develop an Action Plan

Identify actions you can take to achieve your marketing goals. Get the benefit of cost-effective digital restaurant marketing strategies with some of these good ideas: 

Build a Website

Every business needs a good website these days, and the restaurant industry is no exception. Just as you need an attractive physical venue, so you need an appealing online venue to draw in those searching for a restaurant. A website is a central hub around which your marketing revolves. You can publish your story, updated menus, special events, and promotions, and link communications to different pages on the site.


Do Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing is one of the most effective ways to reach people. Discover which platforms your target customers use the most, and make sure you build a strong presence on the sites. Share photos of food and events. Tell people where to expect your festival food truck and encourage them to visit. Invite reviews from happy customers. Respond to comments and questions on your Facebook business page, so users can see you take them seriously. Get your followers engaged in your activities and use your social profiles to keep them informed about what you’re doing.

Use Influencer Marketing

Getting local authorities and celebrities to support your restaurant is a popular way to get your name out there. When people who are well-known in the community say good things about you based on their personal experiences, others believe them.

Real influencer management can be challenging, though, because you have no real control over what they say. The idea is to make sure they are so happy with your food and service that they feel inspired to share the good news with their followers.

Restaurant influencer marketing - Polkadot Communications

Develop Loyalty Programs

Everyone loves something for nothing, and loyalty programs generally give frequent customers rewards they can use when they’re ready. These could include free meals, special discounts, contests and giveaways, or perhaps a points-based system that they can redeem against a meal.

A loyalty program is a great marketing option that gets customers coming back time after time to rack up their purchases and enjoy their rewards. You don’t have to invent a program from scratch, either. By partnering up with online good apps you can reach a much bigger target audience than your own, through their followers.

Invite Online Reviews

No matter who your ideal customer is, online reviews play a big part in drawing them in. Research shows 76% of all consumers trust reviews as much as a personal recommendation, and that goes up to 81% among 18 to 34-year-olds and 89% among 35 to 54-year-olds. That makes actively sourcing reviews an excellent marketing tip for a savvy restaurant owner.

Don’t wait for people to think about leaving you a review, because chances are unhappy customers are the only ones who will. Sign up for a review site such as Yelp, OpenTable or TripAdvisor. Post links to reviews on your website and social media profiles, and offer incentives such as a lucky draw to guests who submit reviews.

Plan Public Relations

There’s still no such thing as bad publicity, but good publicity is even better. Use planned public relations activities like sending out a press release when you have an announcement. Support local sports teams or arts initiatives, which gets the name of your restaurant out into the target market, and contact your local radio station to arrange an interview during peak drive time.

Pay for Digital Advertising

There’s still a place for regular, paid advertising in the restaurant industry. Although print advertising is mostly out of date, digital ads run on the basis of Pay per Click. This means you only pay for the number of people who actually see or click on your ad, which makes it much more cost-effective than “spray and pray” advertising.

You can get paid ads on sites like Google and Facebook. A method called ad retargeting makes it possible for your ad to “follow around” after people who show interest in your type of offering. They keep on seeing the ads until they are familiar with your venue.

Send Email Marketing

Last but not least, email marketing is still one of the best ways to reach potential customers. Collect the names and email addresses of your diners. Invite followers on your website and social media profiles to join your mailing list. Contract with a content marketer to develop regular email campaigns promoting things like a full-service dinner event, dates when you have entertainment in the restaurant, and special monthly offers. Include a variable field with a unique code that the user has to redeem to get the offer. This gives you a way to see whether your email marketing activities are bearing fruit.

Send email marketing - Polkadot Communications

Step 4: Evaluate and Adjust

Set criteria against which you can assess how well your restaurant marketing plan worked. This helps you to decide whether you need to make changes, and where to make them. For example, you might find a high number of visitors to your website are not staying for longer than a couple of seconds. This could mean that your information is out of date or uninteresting.

Evaluate what needs to be changed, and adjust it to get the most out of your strategy.

Now, what are you waiting for?

Start making your restaurant marketing plan today and put your venue on track for building a reputation for quality and good service. And if you’re in need of an expert opinion or any support delivering your plan, we’re here to help if you’d like to get in touch.

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