How to Create a Restaurant Marketing Plan

Restaurant-SWOT

The proper plan starts as something basic and becomes a guide for your entire restaurant marketing strategy.

If you’re serious about your restaurant, you’ll need a written, detailed restaurant marketing plan before you open your doors for business. Even if you’ve already started serving customers though, it’s still not too late to benefit from this process.

Marketing plans might seem intimidating at first, but they are very manageable and can even be inspiring to put together. You’ll learn to visualize your goals, identify your limitations and capitalize off of your best features!

1. Start with a Brainstorm Session

Gather the main stakeholders in your restaurant (owners, managers, head chef etc.) and openly discuss the direction of your brand. You may also want to include one or two loyal or potential customers in this session, if they’re willing.

Some questions you might ask the group might be:

  • What is the theme of our restaurant?
  • Who is our ideal customer?
  • What is our greatest quality?
  • What areas can improve?
  • How can we save on marketing costs?

The brainstorming process should be open and all ideas are welcome. Write everything down and try not to restrict anyone’s input. Appoint an official note-taker. You’ll use this information in steps 3-5.

2. Research Sample Restaurant Marketing Plans

The perfect place to start forming the actual plan is an internet search of other restaurants’ marketing strategies. You can check out Mplan’s sample restaurant marketing plan to get some initial ideas. This is a great example of the layout and subheadings your plan might need.

We like the use of a ‘picture’ section that describes the ideal scenario of a customer’s experience and referral process. They’ve also outlined the importance of setting a detailed financial budget to go with your plan.

3. Perform SWOT and ‘Four P’s’ Analyses

Two of the first concepts any marketing 101 class will teach are the SWOT and ‘Four P’s’ models. These are tried and true methods of analysis that apply to most businesses’ marketing needs. They are used by professional marketing executives to strategize from one-person businesses to multi-million dollar corporations.

The best marketers in the world still do SWOT analysis. Tweet This

The letters in SWOT stand for (S)trengths, (W)eaknesses, (O)pportunities and (T)hreats.  Think of the first two as internal to your company, and the second two as external environmental factors. For example, your restaurant’s main internal strength might be its use of only organic, local ingredients, which relates to the external opportunity of increasing health-conscious consumers in our society. Your restaurant’s main weakness might be an outdated POS (Point of Service System), which relates to the threat of competitors who use sleek, new digital systems for wait staff. Here’s a basic example of a SWOT diagram that applies to the restaurant industry. Draw up your own chart that’s as specific as possible to your own restaurant.

The ‘Four P’s’ stand for (P)rice, (P)roduct, (P)romotion, and (P)lace. This model will help you identify the key strategic elements of your brand. It’s kind of like the when, where, what, why and how of marketing. If you’re just starting out, identifying the four P’s will help you develop the initial image and outreach of the restaurant’s marketing techniques. If you’ve been in business for a while, this model will be useful as a revision and refinement of your marketing plan. Again, draw up a customized diagram, based on something like this, to visualize the four P’s specific to your restaurant.

The notes and ideas from the brainstorming process in step 1 will be useful in this process. By having notes from the group meeting, you’ll be able to incorporate everyone’s ideas with just one person independently conducting the actual SWOT and Four P’s analyses.

4. Restaurant Marketing Plan: Formulate, Implement, and Evaluate

Put your ideas, goals and strategies into a written report. End that report with a series of key steps you plan to take to achieve your goals.

Make the steps as specific as possible, so that when it comes to implementing and evaluating them there won’t be room for misinterpretation. For example, a bad step description would simply say ‘complete print marketing campaign.’ A good step description would read as follows:

  • Date: February 1st-14th
  • Campaign: Valentine’s “Dinner for Two” Special
  • Medium: Printed coupons in Townsville Daily newspaper
  • Budget: $2000-$2200
  • Sales increase goal from last Valentine’s dinner: 5-7%
  • Method of evaluating campaign success: Keep and count used coupons, compare to total sales volume

Include a series of steps like this in the first or last section of your marketing plan, so they’re easy to find. For each step, leave space to record your notes and observations as the plan is implemented. That way you can learn from successes and failures.

Having a written marketing plan is a must for your restaurant. Become your own marketing strategist by following these four steps, and remember, don’t forget social media!

Are you ready to start your restaurant business website? Start your free Restaurant Engine trial today.

Image Credit: Restaurants SM Marketing

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