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10 Step-By-Step Process to Write a Winning Restaurant Marketing Plan

Updated: Jul 19, 2023




What is a Restaurant Marketing Plan


A restaurant marketing plan is a step-by-step process to make your business more visible to your target audience & market. It involves a detailed analysis of audience personas and promoting your brand in different marketing channels.


Why do you need a Restaurant Marketing plan?


Having a clearly sculpted marketing plan for your restaurant business can be a north star for your business growth. Most retail businesses do not have an action plan and enter the market directly without well-defined goals & objectives, which eventually leads to little to no outcomes from marketing.


It’s appreciable that you have chosen to have a look at the detailed marketing plan for restaurants. Let’s dive deeper into it without any further ado.



10 Step-By-Step Process to Ace your Restaurant Marketing Plan:


No fluff and boring what-to-dos. We’ve got power-packed content with what-to-dos and how-to-dos coupled with actionable insights to get positive outcomes.




1. Understand your Target Audience at the finest level


As a restaurant owner or a manager, it’s vital to know your audience segment. You can’t serve everyone in the world. This is not just for restaurant businesses, it applies to unicorn businesses & tech giants as well. They know who their target audiences are, and hyper-target them to grab attention.


For example, if you’re opening a restaurant nearer to a college or university, your target audiences are 18 to 25 years old for sure. You do not have to startup a full-on fine-dining restaurant. Create an atmosphere & menu where the college-goers would feel comfortable hanging out. Your brand’s tone of voice can be creative, fun & stick to current trends, which will resonate with your target audience group.


Here are a few questions that you need to ask yourself:

1. Who is your target audience?

2. Their age group

3. Location

4. What do they like to see or have in a restaurant?

5. Can you naturally resonate with them?


Were you able to answer all the above questions?


Great. You have completed the first and the most important step of your restaurant marketing plan. Stay with us, let’s move further.



2. Spy on your competitor’s strategy, pricing & menu options.


We do not have to tell this. But, for the record, allow us to say “Restaurants are one of the most competitive industries”. Just like any other business, you will never know when you will face your next new competitor.


You can visit your competitor’s restaurant or let someone else visit and observe what they serve and where they stand ahead of you. Some of the important points to watch out for are


  1. Restaurant menu

  2. Most sold items

  3. Ambiance

  4. Service

  5. Upsell & cross-selling techniques

  6. Delivery options

  7. Guest experience and

  8. Loyalty programs


Note these details down in our Restaurant Marketing plan


Identifying your competitors and knowing their pros & cons makes your marketing strategy so stronger than others who don’t. Now you have an idea of where you have an upper hand and where you don’t.


Focus on your limitations and try to improve them. Invest some time & energy in your pros to make your business inevitable. Let’s move to the next section.



3. Create a strong online presence for your restaurant like website, GMB Listing, Aggregators, Online Directories & Listings, etc


Now that you know your audience & competitors very well, it’s time to get involved in real marketing activities to attract customers.


Google is one of the most used applications in this internet era. From searching “important news” to finding “restaurants near you” it’s a part and parcel of everyday life.


The following images are taken from Google, for the search term “restaurant near me” for US & India respectively.


Restaurant near me search volume for US

Restaurant near me search volume for India region


To give you a quick context on the metrics associated with it, in the US, 20.4M people search for “restaurants near me” and it costs $2.45 on average for a Google Ad click.


In India, 1.2M people search for “restaurants near me” and it costs INR 15.06 for a Google Ad click.


The web is a wide landscape and as a restaurateur, you will have to place your restaurant on every single potential webpage where your target audience will hunt for new or nearby restaurants.


This is where restaurant SEO comes into play and helps you rank your restaurant website at the top of search engines like Google.


Here are some of the prominent places where you can stamp the digital footprint of your restaurant business and help potential customers visit your business


1. Create a nice website for your restaurant business. You can use some famous website builders like WordPress, Wix, Shopify, etc. There are a few readymade templates available that you can use to get started immediately.


2. Create a Google My Business for your Restaurant Business. This will allow your restaurants to appear on top of organic search results because of local business


This is how your business may appear in Google search results when someone near your restaurant outlet searches for “Restaurants near me” or “Restaurants in <area name>”



Restaurant Google My Business appearing in Google search results


There are only 3 factors to determine the local rankings on Google, they are:


1. Relevance - How well your business matches with the search query. (Your restaurant business will rank when someone searches for restaurants. Not for “software companies near me”)


2. Distance - How long is your business outlet from the searcher's location.


3. Prominence - How well known your business is.


To create your new account, go to Google My Business and enter your business information like restaurant name, without any errors, as it is important to show the right information to your potential customers.



4. Create your own online restaurant store to accept orders:


You can create an online ordering system and table booking reservations for your restaurant using Flipdish, Thrive now, or Dotpe.


Using this online ordering system, you can let your customers order directly from your online ordering URL and not from third-party food aggregators.


The best part of employing these systems is, you will get unrestricted access to your customer information like Name, Phone number, food preferences, Sales insights, Business performance, etc.


Share the online food ordering links to your customers through SMS, Whatsapp, Website, Facebook page, Instagram bio, Youtube description link, etc.



5. Signup for food aggregators & marketplace


List your restaurant business on food ordering & delivery platforms like Swiggy, Zomato, Uber Eats, Dunzo, etc. They will charge a commission ranging from 25 to 30% for an order.


This can be quite useful for new restaurants that want to capture the demand and mindshare of people from their surroundings. Even if someone doesn’t order from your restaurant at that moment, the chances are more likely for them to visit your restaurant for a dine-in as they are already aware of your brand.


You can also list your restaurant business on websites like JustDial, Yelp, Sulekha, and other local directory listings where your potential customers would search for restaurants near them.


After finalizing your website, online ordering system, and signing up for food aggregators, your marketing plan would look more mature.



6. Zero on Social Media Channels to promote organic content


This is the golden era for businesses to get online and speak directly to their target audience group. Social media has paved the way for this excellent opportunity.


The first thing to do is to create accounts or business pages on popular social media channels like Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp Business account, Snapchat, TikTok, etc.


Each channel demands a different form of content. For example, you can post attractive and visually appealing images on Facebook & Instagram. (Facebook marketing works really well for restaurant businesses) Whereas, TikTok requires video content, preferably vertical video, to give a quality experience for mobile users.


Some fundamental principles to grow your restaurant business are


  • Reach out or invite your friends to like, comment and engage with your content.

  • Use high-quality images in your posts

  • Regularly upload stories on social channels to engage with the audience

  • Use relevant hashtags in your posts

  • Food quotes & restaurant quotes in captions that attracts your audience

  • Upload videos in Facebook & TikTok, Reels & IGTV videos in Instagram.

  • Update your menu and catalog in Whatsapp Busines.

  • Create a stunning bio for your Instagram handle and use your online ordering URL to encourage users to directly order from you.



7. Invest in online ads, SMS & Email marketing:


It’s quite difficult to expect traction only via organic (unpaid) content & promotion. To see some quick wins, you may have to get into the advertising world.


Some major channels include Google Ads, Facebook Ads, Instagram Ads, etc. Your potential customers spend a lot of time on these social platforms and it’s perhaps the best place where they could discover your brand.


You can create Facebook & Instagram ads for your restaurant business using Facebook Ad manager from your Facebook page.


For Google Ads, you may have to visit Google Ads homepage and create your Google Ads account by entering your business details.


Make sure you target the right geography and use the right messaging about your restaurant business.


People believe SMS is dead. It is not. Here are some cool SMS stats from eztexting to help you understand the significance of SMS marketing for your restaurant business. You can send out weekly informational content, and transactional messages to encourage your users to reserve a table or online order from your restaurant.



8. Manage reviews & ratings to improve online reputation


Let’s get this simple. What’s the first thing you look out for whenever you shop on Amazon or try out a new product? Of course, it’s the ratings & reviews. People believe other people’s words, not the brand's claims.


Your restaurant business is much similar to this. Your potential customer most likely chooses your restaurant based on the online ratings and other people’s reviews including their previous experience with your brand.



Here are 5 major places where people could rate & review your restaurant:


  1. Google My Business

  2. Facebook

  3. Online Directories like Yelp, Dineout, Tripadvisor, JustDial, etc.

  4. Food aggregators like Zomato, Swiggy, Uber Eats, etc.

  5. Bing places for restaurants


Apart from this, there are also region-specific websites that allow people to rate & review other businesses. You may have to sign up for these websites for a business account and provide business details and contact information.


Search for “Restaurant review websites for owners in <country name>” to get a list of websites.


After gathering all the existing restaurant rating websites and other potential sites, go ahead and fill them.



9. Create Loyalty Programs, Memberships & Gift cards

It costs 5 times more to acquire a new customer than retain an existing one. A big chunk of your revenue comes from recurring (loyal) customers. We’ll tear down on different ways to turn your one-time visitor into a loyal customer.

Restaurant loyalty programs include reward points (earned for the amount spent), refer a friend, 50% discount on your 5th visit, bring 5 pay for 4, special discounts on special occasions like birthdays, anniversaries, etc.


Membership programs encourage your customers to get early access to special menus, free delivery, free passes for celebrity events, wine tasting parties, concerts, etc.


Sell gift cards that can be redeemed. You can also set a maximum amount that your customer can redeem.



10. Partner with local businesses, food bloggers & influencers from Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok


Just like your restaurant, there are a whole bunch of local businesses that co-exist with you and also serve your potential customers. Reach out to them in person and introduce your brand. Make an offer that benefits both businesses at the same time.


For example, you can request the local supermarket to give out a discount coupon for your restaurant during checkout. In return, you can co-promote your partner supermarket. You can also partner with local farms, restaurant communities,


Restaurant blogging and vloggers are everywhere. Most importantly, people love to watch their experiences and review a place. They are also influencers as they influence their audience to make a purchasing decision. In this case, they influence your target audience to visit your restaurant or online order from your kitchen.


The best part about online reach is, even if a food blogger has some 5K Instagram followers, if the content is really good (good video quality, music or sound selection, perfect editing, thumbnail selection, tone of voice) and gets a good amount of engagement, the algorithm will automatically boost the post to other users who show similar interest.


This way, the post may reach even up to 100K views (can even go beyond this), although the person has just 5K followers.


With this, we complete the final step of creating a marketing plan for your restaurant business.



Conclusion


Doing all of these tasks at a time will be overwhelming. And that’s the reason we walked you through the step by process of creating a marketing plan.


Pick one task and try to complete them before jumping into another. This way, you will have complete control over your activities, and also easy to track your progress.

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