Restaurant Marketing: The Ultimate Guide

Marketing 19 minute read 8th November 2022

When it comes to running a successful restaurant, there are many moving parts that need to be managed to keep things running smoothly. However, marketing is often overlooked.

Somehow, marketing for a restaurant is seen as a daunting task. In reality, though, there are a variety of approaches that can make the process much easier and less time-consuming.

A good restaurant marketing strategy can attract new customers, keep existing ones coming back, and bring your business to the next level.

Therefore, you are better off taking advantage of it.

In this guide, you’ll learn everything you need about restaurant marketing: benefits, strategies, opportunities, and effective tips.

Let’s start.

What is restaurant marketing?

Restaurant marketing is a set of consistent and coherent promotional initiatives that help restaurant owners to reach their business goals.

In other words, restaurant marketing is what business owners do to market their restaurants effectively.

While a restaurant can survive without any marketing, the vast majority of hospitality businesses can only thrive out of it.

The benefits of restaurant marketing

Restaurant marketing is supposed to help restaurants reach their business goals. In fact, an effective marketing plan for a restaurant starts by defining its business goals.

The primary benefit (and goal) of restaurant marketing is to increase revenues, profit margin, and other financial metrics.

However, as financial results are often a direct consequence of behavioral metrics, restaurant marketing mainly aims to make a restaurant attractive to potential and repeat customers.

These are the main benefits of restaurant marketing:

  • It improves brand awareness
  • It attracts ideal employees
  • It increases customer retention and customer lifetime value (CLV)
  • It helps consistently win new customers
  • It grows loyalty toward your business
  • It increases your negotiating power with suppliers and distributors

Do you need a budget to do restaurant marketing?

restaurant marketing 1

Restaurant marketing should be considered as a part of your overall business model.

In fact, you should consider your marketing activities as important as employing good staff members, keeping your restaurant clean, or doing your bureaucratic paperwork properly.

Therefore, setting a budget to market your restaurant can only be beneficial for your business.

However, if you are tight on budget, there are plenty of restaurant marketing ideas and platforms that are completely free and can deliver astounding results.

On the other hand, you will save money but you’ll need to master the platform and spend time optimizing your efforts.

Restaurant marketing services: Do you need a marketing agency to market your restaurant?

In any industry, many business owners end up outsourcing their marketing to specialized agencies.

The same holds true for the restaurant industry.

There are a variety of marketing agencies that specialize in restaurant marketing services.

Is this the best thing for your business?

Not necessarily.

If you have tried unsuccessfully for a long time, it might be a good idea to start a collaboration. However, no one knows your business as well as you.

Therefore, if you manage to learn the basics of marketing, you will be able to execute your restaurant marketing strategy with complete autonomy and effectiveness.

If you are new to marketing, you should not worry either. Luckily, you live in the internet age and there are tons of marketing resources for small business owners.

Moreover, even if you try and fail, marketing agencies will always be there and you can easily revert your decision.

Just start with it.

How to create a restaurant marketing plan

Contrary to what you might think, the first step to getting good at restaurant marketing is not to open a business page on every social media and run ads.

The first thing you need to do is to create a restaurant marketing plan (by following a template).

A restaurant marketing plan is a tool that helps you achieve your business goals by providing you with a clear outlook on your competitive landscape.

In other words, with a restaurant marketing plan, you know where you are and where you want to go. Then, you can build a compass to find the right direction.

A structured marketing approach is what makes the difference between succeeding at marketing your restaurant autonomously or failing.

Therefore, take it seriously.

The foundation of successful restaurant marketing: Being Remarkable

There are currently 1 million-plus restaurant locations in the US. This means that to succeed in this market, you need somehow to stand out from the crowd. To do that, your restaurant needs to be remarkable; a concept that was first coined by marketing Guru Seth Godin in his masterpiece The Purple Cow.

restaurant marketing 2

The main lesson of this book is that a business that wants to succeed has to be noticeable and somehow unique. In other words, remarkable. Therefore, you want to clearly define your business identity and stick religiously to it.

Your business identity is the sum of all elements, values, and vibes that characterize your brand.

If you emphasize your business identity throughout all your marketing initiatives, you will be discovered and loved by those customers who are looking for that type of experience.

Main restaurant marketing platforms and channels

The growth of the internet brought business owners a variety of platforms that can be used to do restaurant marketing.

However, all restaurant businesses resort to a specific set of platforms that, somehow, match everyone’s needs.

Following is a list of the main restaurant marketing platforms and initiatives, with their relative benefits.

Local review sites and restaurant marketing

When finding a new restaurant, most of us turn to local review sites like Yelp or Tripadvisor.

restaurant marketing 4

While you can ignore what is said about your restaurant on local review sites, potential customers won’t.

Therefore, as people tend to trust local review sites, cultivating your business reputation on these platforms is necessary to succeed with your restaurant.

However, as the vast majority of people use these platforms to learn about local businesses, if you manage to get a good rating, you will attract tons of customers.

All in all, even if you might disagree with some reviews, review sites can truly help you grow your business.

Therefore, you need to understand how to get the most out of local review sites for small businesses as they are a fundamental part of your restaurant marketing.

Restaurant marketing on social media

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Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are included in most restaurant marketing plans as they provide a great way to connect with potential and current customers.

By sharing photos, special offers, and events, restaurants can win new customers, create a loyal following and generate buzz about their business.

However, you need to be sure to use them right.

In fact, to attract customers and grow loyalty, your restaurant’s social media posts need to match your business identity while appealing to your potential customers.

It can be tricky, at first, to create effective social media posts for a restaurant. However, as billions use these platforms, it goes without saying that your effort will be highly rewarded.

Influencer marketing and restaurant marketing

An interesting strategy to get the most out of restaurant marketing through social media is partnering with influencers.

But what is an influencer? and how can restaurants use influencer marketing to their advantage?

Simply put, influencer marketing is a way to reach out to people with a large online following and get them to promote your brand or product. This can be done through social media posts, blog articles, or even YouTube videos.

When done correctly, influencer marketing can be a powerful tool for driving awareness, traffic, and sales for a restaurant.

However, be sure to pick the right influencer. Someone with a decent following and whose opinion is trusted.

Local Restaurant Marketing initiatives

There are a number of initiatives that you can use to market your restaurant locally and win local customers.

The best local restaurant marketing initiatives are:

  • Running regular events (live music, karaoke, etc.)
  • Running special events (New Year’s Eve party, Charity events, Cooking classes)
  • Special offers when there’s an event in your town
  • Seasonal pricing strategies
  • Leveraging your presence on Google Maps
  • Partnering with other businesses in your neighborhood/town
  • Being featured on local traditional media
  • Running ads on local traditional media
  • Geo-targeted advertising (Ads targeting a specific geographical area)

All in all, local restaurant marketing initiatives can work effectively because they specifically target people in your area.

Restaurant marketing through loyalty programs

Loyalty programs are another super-popular restaurant marketing strategy.

By offering several types of rewards for frequent visits, restaurants can encourage customers to keep coming back for more.

Moreover, loyalty programs can be used to track customer behavior, and identify trends.

In fact, loyalty programs can help to build up a database of customer information that can be used for other marketing initiatives.

Do not underestimate the value of loyalty programs!

Restaurant Marketing tips for restaurant owners

Restaurant marketing can be resumed as creating the right message for the right audience at the right time.

Sure. It’s easier to say than to do.

However, by following a few marketing principles, your life can be easier.

Here are 6 restaurant marketing tips for restaurant owners:

  1. Know your customers. The first rule of marketing is to understand who you are talking to. When you understand your customer’s needs and preferences, you can offer them exactly what they want.
  2. Go where your customers congregate. Ensure that all your communications end up in front of your ideal customers. In other words, be present where your customers congregate.
  3. Try different approaches. No one gets marketing right at first. You might think that one platform is ideal for you, or that communicating in a certain way can surely lead to success. Instead of expecting to be immediately right, have a beginner’s mind. Try different approaches, and see what works.
  4. Endure. If you don’t see immediate results, do not despair. It might take a while to find what works for you, and refine it enough to create a successful marketing strategy for your restaurant.
  5. Track your results. Tracking the outcome of your initiatives is fundamental to understanding what works and what does not. Find a good balance between doing and monitoring.
  6. Keep learning. Just like with cooking, to get good at restaurant marketing, you might need to make mistakes and learn from them. Don’t worry. It’s just human.

Restaurant Marketing Software

Restaurant marketing software can help by automating many of the tasks of marketing, from creating and managing social media posts to designing and sending email campaigns.

However, just like buying a sophisticated guitar won’t make you a rockstar, expensive marketing software won’t make you a marketing guru.

The first thing you have to decide is what type of help you want from the software. Also, you need to determine what kind of tasks you want to automate.

The downside is that you might end up with a bunch of diverse software, with different dashboards and a large bill at the end of the year.

Therefore, when choosing a restaurant marketing software, you need to look for a variety of features, that include:

  1. The learning curve of the software
  2. What type of platforms it supports and integrate
  3. Which tasks can be automated
  4. Is there good customer support you can contact?
  5. Price

With that in mind, you might decide to get one or more marketing software.

Restaurant Marketing and WiFi Marketing

Every marketer knows that the success of any marketing initiative depends on how much they know about their targeted customers.

Once you know what your customers like, how they behave, what they value, and what they desire, you can reach out to them with the perfect message

Are you already offering free WiFi to your guests?

Then you have the perfect chance to learn about your customers and streamline your restaurant marketing efforts with WiFi marketing.

WiFi marketing is an innovative marketing approach where businesses collect customers’ data, learn about their preferences, and automate the most significant marketing tasks while offering free WiFi.

Do you want to get started with WiFi marketing?

Then you’ll love Beambox; an all-in-one WiFi marketing solution that allows you to connect with your real customers and simplify your restaurant marketing.

There are over 12,000 venues that are taking advantage of Beambox to collect data from their real customers, measure their results, and redirect their marketing efforts.

Start your Beambox 30-day free trial today.


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