Five Essential Items for Your New Restaurant Marketing Plan

Restaurant Business Plan

No restaurant is complete without a marketing plan.

In today’s competitive market, you want your restaurant to gain and retain its customers. While you may prefer to spend your time thinking about your menu and customer service, your marketing plan can’t be ignored.

To encourage new customers and entice returning customers to spend their money with you instead of your competition, you’ll need a great marketing plan. Restaurants should have a well-structured plan based on research, great strategy and attainable outcomes.

Following are five essential items to help ensure your marketing plan’s success.

Do Your Research.

Identify your target markets. Are they business-people, young, old, tourists, etc.? Remember that your target customer might change depending on the day of the week. Once you have an idea of your target market, create some buyer personas.

These buyer personas are your ideal customers, based on demographics, motivations, needs and habits. Sounds hard? It’s simple, really. Just think about the ideas and descriptions you already have in your head of your customers and put it to paper. Some things to think about include:

  • What does this persona do for a living? How often do they go out to eat? What’s their favorite type of cuisine?
  • How old are they? Male or female? Do they have a family?
  • What are they looking for in a restaurant?

Once you’ve put the buyer persona to paper, you can brainstorm ways to offer them the best dining experience possible and come up with ways to attract them. Your buyer personas really are your defined customers and your target market. This helps you build your marketing strategy so you can draw customers to your restaurant in a cost-effective way.

Use Your Website

Restaurant Website

A website can attract new people to your restaurant.

Your marketing strategy doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. One way to keep costs down is to use your restaurant’s website. Your website is your digital storefront. It is often the first interaction your customers have with your restaurant and your menu.

Many consumers turn to the Internet to decide where to eat out next. Make sure that your site is search friendly. If your potential customer is craving grilled chicken, it is important for them to easily find menu items that include chicken. Use big, bold, beautiful images that stick with your website visitor long after they’ve left your website page.

Create great content on your site. One fairly easy way to do this is with your blog. Your blog offers you an easy way to offer fresh, new content on a regular basis. Feature fun items about your restaurant, new menu offerings, cooking tips, recipes or info on upcoming events. Write about topics related to food and eating out, and you’re sure to attract people who like eating out. Blog regularly and feature relevant key words. Not only will search engines love your new content, but it will help customers find you.

Post, Post, Post

You probably have at least one social media page, perhaps more. The most important thing to note regarding social media marketing is to engage the consumer. It isn’t enough to have a nice looking, static Facebook page. Use a mixture of photos with text, videos, contests and offers in your posts. Offer tips and recipes while mixing in special offers and promotions.

A study by Social Bakers suggests the following sweet spots for social media:

  • Post to Facebook and Google+ approximately five to 10 times per week.
  • Post to Twitter at least 5 times a day; up to 20 posts are ideal.
  • Post to LinkedIn once per day.

Does this mean these sweet spots are ideal for you? It’s important to test. Make sure you are posting when your customers are online. Where do you find this information? Look at the reporting tools in your social media platform. Most of them offer rich data for targeting your online customers.

Build Your Customer Database

You are already connecting through your website and social media, but make sure to include email marketing in your strategy. According to the National Restaurant Association, 87 percent of consumers would go to or order from a restaurant if provided with a savings offer. Email marketing is one of the best and most cost-effective ways to reach your customer with offers.

To stay connected through email, you need a customer database. (tweet this) Include an email newsletter sign-up form on your website and on your social media pages.

When customers call your restaurant to make a reservation, ask them for an email address. You can also collect email addresses through customer comment cards handed out with the bill, a fishbowl for business cards in a strategic location in your restaurant or a competition to win a meal each month on your website/social media.

Set Goals and Monitor Results

Establish attainable goals for your marketing plan. Maybe it’s 20 new customers, 25 new Facebook page likes, a 30% increase in revenue or 50 new names for your email list.

You can set a goal for each action item. For example, you run a Facebook contest offering the winner a free, new menu item. Your goal for this action item may be 50 new page likes or it may be 10 people trying your new menu item.

With the marketing plan comes accountability. Put someone in charge of the marketing plan and each strategy. Follow-through is vital. Once you’ve spent time and money developing your marketing plan, make sure it doesn’t sit on a shelf.

Monitor your marketing results – always test and analyze. (tweet this) Your marketing plan is a living document with action items, responsibilities and time-frames. While following your plan is advised, be open to enhancing or redirecting your plan based on successful activities.

Manage your marketing plan and review the status of your campaigns against your goals and your results. This ensures ongoing improvements and helps with planning next year’s marketing strategy.

Have you implemented a marketing plan for your restaurant? If so, share your comments below. Tell us what worked and what didn’t. Share your tips for managing your plan.

Images: Alagich Katya & Skip1.org

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