A marketing plan is a necessity for any restaurant. Whether examining opportunities to increase revenue, raising capital, or selling a business, creating a marketing plan is important for success.
Planning is the missing link between strategy and delivery. Without a marketing plan, restaurant marketing is messy and inefficient. Marketing without strategy does not yield a positive return on investment.
Following these steps will help restaurants create a sturdy and sustainable restaurant marketing plan.
1. Brainstorm specific goals within your set budget
Brainstorming is a mental technique that encourages a free flow of ideas without internal judgment. This thought technique is about quantity vs. quality. The more ideas flow, the better the chances of discovering useful, empowering concepts. This is the first step to decipher productive goals.
There are two main types of goals: Short-term goals and long-term goals. These goals can be big or small. All goal types are critical for success. The SMART acronym can help immensely during this process.
- S – Specific or significant
- M – Measurable or meaningful
- A – Action-oriented or attainable
- R – Rewarding or relevant
- T – Time-bound or trackable
After creating goals, it’s important to establish a budget. Many restaurant professionals dread spending money on marketing, but that’s why budgeting is so important.
Creating a strategic marketing budget will ensure spending is not out of control.
The first step in creating a budget is understanding the sales funnel. This step includes determining how many guests visit per month per location, the average cost per transaction, and loyalty rates.
WiFi marketing software can help determine these numbers. A POS system can also help.
After understanding the sales funnel, it’s essential to interpret operational costs. Next, use the business goals to set a marketing budget. Think of marketing as an investment, not a cost.
Finally, consider the growth stage and budget accordingly: growth mode (quick-win marketing techniques are needed) or planning mode (steady growth is more important than revenue spikes).
2. Define a target market
Evaluate current customers. Which ones bring in the most business?
Determine who the competitors are targeting. If a market is over-saturated, it may be beneficial to reach a different market.
Choose target demographics based on age, location, gender, income level, education level, occupation, ethnic background, and family status.
Take psychographics into consideration, including behavior, personality, lifestyles, attitudes, values, and interests.
Based on the target market, analyze food offerings and ambiance to determine if the correct market receives accurate targeting.
Evaluate. Does the target fit enough people? Can they afford the restaurant? Are they easily accessible? If not, reconsidering the target market might be a good idea.
3. Understand your guests and what makes your brand unique
A “customer needs statement” answers the question, “what characteristics should customers look for in a specific brand?” A brand’s specific customer needs statement should remain stable over time.
Think about what customers should say about the brand and values. Then, create continuity. Ensure the branding is repeated throughout all of the restaurant’s interior, customer service, and collateral. Finally, create a timeline for adaptation.
By getting into the target market’s shoes, it’s easier to understand what guests will expect. It’s important to care and act upon guest feedback more than personal preferences.
It’s important to understand where guests are online. If customers are using social media sites like Facebook or Twitter, advertising is an efficient way to reach them where they are 24/7.
Facebook’s lookalike audiences allow brands with email sources to upload email lists and find new customers that fit similar characteristics. Google has a tool called “Similar Audiences” to accomplish advanced targeting, as well. More on this later.
Using a WiFi landing page to acquire ZIP Code information is also an excellent way to understand where customers live.
4. Create a message and build an experience
What brand comes to mind with the words “Eat Mor Chikin“? Some brand messages are less obvious, such as “Expect more than coffee.” Brand messages should embody the entire guest experience from the time they learn about a restaurant online to the moment they walk through the doors.
After determining a message, everything within a restaurant should embody both the message and the restaurant’s branding.
Subconsciously, restaurant patrons should hear the brand message just by looking around and tasting their meals. Create an ambiance that guests will love. Everything from the way menu items get served, to the music, to the acoustics should be purposeful and memorable.
5. Gain customer feedback and positive reviews
Asking for customer feedback is essential. More important, however, is the need to constructively act on feedback.
Even if customers provide negative feedback, it’s crucial to show to them (and online communities) that management listens, aligns, understands, and improves.
Additionally, a restaurant WiFi login page can ask for customer feedback at the login screen or through automated emails or text messages.
For example, if a customer has had a negative experience, an automated follow-up email from management can ask for additional information to make the experience better. Some automated negative feedback campaigns include offers, such as a free drink or cookie to win business back.
If a customer has had a positive experience, an automated follow-up email can provide a link to a popular review site like Google or Facebook.
The more positive ratings and reviews a brand accumulates, the easier it is for customers to find them on Google. Additionally, brands with positive reviews attract more customers.
6. Focus on loyalty and innovation
The success rate of selling to an existing customer is 60-70%, while the success rate of selling to a new customer is 5-20%. Loyalty programs can increase loyalty rates significantly.
Tools like Zapier are making it easy for restaurant marketers to integrate tools like SMS marketing, WiFi marketing, and other third-party applications. It has become essential for brands to use the data that is acquired instead of simply accumulating data and letting it sit unused.
What worked well today might not work well tomorrow.
While these steps are essential to creating proactive and lucrative marketing campaigns, the same campaigns will not always bring success.
Reviewing marketing campaigns, A/B testing, and implementing regular changes are all essential for success.
For restaurants, a marketing plan defines success and creates a strong focal point for achievement. This plan enables restaurant professionals to manage budgets strategically while achieving a positive return on marketing investment.
What works well for one restaurant might not work well for the next. Planning for the future and staying at the forefront of technology is essential to stay ahead of the competition.
7. Use Customer Data to Manage and Optimize Your Restaurant Marketing Plan
Any restaurant marketing plan should be monitored, managed, and continuously optimized. To do so, it is important to have accurate, comprehensive guest data to rely on.
With data available using a WiFi analytics and customer intelligence hub like Bloom Intelligence, you will have access to the type of data required to accurately test and optimize your restaurant marketing plan.
Bloom delivers accurate guest foot traffic data such as the number of visitors, first-time visitor return rates, overall visitor return rates, dwell times, and more.
Plus, with Bloom’s reputation management features, you’ll be able to see all of your Google and Facebook ratings and reviews all in one place. And with Bloom’s integration with those platforms, you can respond to them there too. You will also have the ability to identify and bring back lost guests.
These tools will allow you to test marketing campaigns and results in real-time, all the way back to a guest returning and making a purchase.
Perhaps the most powerful way to boost revenue, improve online ratings, bring back lost customers, and improve customer lifetime values – all while saving time and money – is to invest in WiFi marketing and customer intelligence platform like Bloom Intelligence.
It Starts With Guest Data
Perhaps the most crucial component of restaurant and retail business growth is the ability to collect and analyze actual guest data, and then use that information to increase revenue and lower costs.
You may feel that you have a good understanding of your guests’ behavior and demographics, but without actual guest data, your restaurant marketing plan will be based on your personal opinion.
This is a crucial mistake that many restaurant marketers make.
If your messaging does not resonate with your target audience, it will fall flat. So, basing a marketing budget and plan on opinion can have devastating effects.
The first step in creating a powerful and profitable marketing plan for a restaurant includes the collection of guest data into a well-structured CRM database (customer relationship management database). Also, it is critical to collect this data in a low-cost, passive manner.
Using your WiFi access points, you can collect anonymous customer data from your guests. Even if they do not log into your WiFi you can see things like:
- Daily foot traffic
- Average guest dwell times
- Popular visit times and days
- First-time visitors
- Guest repeat rates, and more.
This can give you insight into current trends and into the areas you may wish to concentrate on when creating your restaurant marketing plan.
When guests do log into your WiFi, then even more powerful and detailed data can be collected.
When they first attempt to access your WiFi, they will view a WiFi landing page, or captive portal, where they are required to enter specific information before gaining access.
This data includes things like name, email, phone number, postal codes, birthdays, and even spending habits.
With accurate and comprehensive guest data, you will have what is necessary to make intelligent, data-driven decisions when creating your restaurant marketing plan.
Measure Customer Sentiment
Successful companies collect and analyze data from customers to identify customer sentiments, which can be used to identify areas of improvement and strengths.
Customer sentiment analysis is a powerful tool that gives insight into the thoughts and feelings of consumers.
By understanding how your company is perceived by its customers you can make adjustments to improve it or find out what aspects are most valued by your target audience.
Not only are ratings and reviews good for your bottom line, but they are also great for spotting trends and measuring customer sentiment.
Measuring customer sentiment can give you very deep insight into your customer base. It tells you not only what customers like and dislike, but the reasoning behind the way they feel that way.
Bloom is integrated with Google and Facebook. Using Google and Facebook ratings and reviews, Bloom allows you to read, manage, and respond to all reviews in one centralized platform.
Moreover, the platform will analyze all of your ratings and provide you with an AI-driven word cloud to show a graphical image of positive, neutral, and negative words and phrases from all of your reviews on Google and Facebook.
Guest sentiment analysis allows for actionable insight to improve the customer experience, manage complaints better, spot trends, spot new opportunities — all of which can be used when creating your restaurant marketing plan.
Restaurant Marketing Plan Ideas
Here are several things to consider adding to your plan.
1. Improve Ratings and Reviews
With the advancement of today’s society and technology, social media and online review sites have had a large impact on customer ratings of businesses.
Social media websites such as Facebook and Google Reviews allow customers to rate and rank their favorite places.
The more stars a business gets on these sites, the more they benefit in various ways, including an approximate 5-9% increase in revenue per star.
With so many people turning to these sites to do their research before dining out or purchasing products from these stores, it is important that you take time to manage your online reputation.
As you review the statistics below, consider the improvement they could make for your restaurant:
- Consumers are likely to spend 31% more at a business with excellent reviews.
- 72% of consumers say that positive reviews make them trust a local business more.
- Restaurants with an improved rating of just 1/2 star (out of 5) were much more likely to be full at peak dining times.
- 34% of diners choose a restaurant based on information on peer review websites.
- 53% of 18-to-34- year-olds reported that online reviews factored into dining decisions, as do 47% of frequent full-service customers.
- 90% of guests research a restaurant online before dining—more than any other business type.
Study after study has revealed that better ratings and reviews can increase customer lifetime values, get you more net-new customers, improve your restaurant reputation, and raise your overall customer loyalty.
All of this leads to a better bottom line and should be considered in your restaurant marketing plan.
Bloom’s Ratings+ and automated feedback loop features can help you not only improve ratings, but generate a consistent stream of them.
2. Utilize Social Proof
Social proof for restaurants occurs when consumers see or hear positive reviews and testimonials about your restaurant and then conform to these social cues by deciding to visit your establishment.
For instance, deciding to choose a restaurant because you love steak and saw someone leave a comment about how good their steak is, that’s social proof. When you see an item on a menu with a star that says “Customer Favorite!”, that’s social proof.
Rating sites like Google or Facebook are avenues of social proof because users can see the ratings and reviews of your business. The better your ratings, the more likely people are to give you their business.
All of these different tactics help build trust, convey value, and improve conversions. It is a simple way to borrow valuable third-party influence to add to your marketing plan.
3. Email Marketing
Email marketing is one of the most popular and effective forms of communication with customers.
It is also an essential part of restaurant marketing, as it provides a way to reach customers with little cost or risk.
This type of advertising has proven to be more successful than other types in terms of generating higher conversion rates.
Email marketing campaigns are often used by companies for customer retention, building relationships with customers, and keeping your business top-of-mind.
It can also be used for direct marketing through specific promotions or offers that may not be seen on social media platforms like Facebook or Instagram.
There is no shortage of online platforms for you to consider when developing a restaurant marketing plan. Just keep in mind that you don’t have to go wild to be effective.
Email marketing has been with us for half a century, and for universality, adaptability, and thoughtful communication, it continues to be the best choice for marketers around the globe.
4. Use Marketing Automation
One thing we understand about running a restaurant business is that time is one of the most valuable commodities.
Marketing automation refers to technology that will execute certain marketing tasks automatically, saving time and resources.
Business.com explains that investing in marketing automation has many benefits, including efficient and centralized data management, automation of tasks, and more specific, targeted, and segmented marketing campaigns.
Bloom Intelligence provides a powerful retail and restaurant marketing automation solution that tracks your return on investment from every campaign.
As a result, you can effortlessly build a restaurant customer database to unlock customer intelligence that powers your restaurant marketing plan to fuel your growth.
For example, using WiFi-collected customer data, Bloom Intelligence can trigger any number of marketing campaigns based upon guest behavior or demographic information.
For instance, if a guest visits your restaurant for a 10th time, marketing automation software like Bloom could automatically send them a thank you message with a special offer.
Or, as another example, every 3rd visit, the system could send a message to your guests asking them to rate you on sites like Google or Facebook. Or, it will send an email offering a free dessert on the guest’s birthday a couple of days before their birthday.
Once configured, these campaigns will run automatically. All you have to do is monitor the results and optimize the messaging over time.
When it comes to creating a successful restaurant marketing plan, marketing automation can free up a great deal of time for you to concentrate on even more marketing strategies as it does the work for you.
5. Online Advertising
Advertising on sites like Google and Facebook is a popular restaurant marketing plan tactic.
Once again, accurate customer data is important. Google and Facebook recently changed the way they allow advertisers to target customers.
They now only let you target a much broader audience – unless you have your own first-party data. With your own data, you can upload your customer list into each platform and remarket to your current guests.
This strategy reinforces your brand in your guests’ minds, keeping them loyal to your restaurant.
You can also create lookalike campaigns.
Learning how to create lookalike campaigns can help you find your new best customers. Indeed, it’s a powerful tool for better ad targeting—drawing learnings about your most successful customers to find new people who are likely to be good customers, too.
Think of it as a sophisticated audience matchmaker for marketers.
You tell Google or Facebook what you like in a customer (by uploading your customer list), and they deliver a new audience segment filled with prospects that match the behavior and demographics of your current guests.
These targeted campaigns are much more effective, bolstering your restaurant marketing plan.
6. Social Media
Social media marketing is one of the most valuable tools in any restaurant’s arsenal. It’s a way to keep your customers coming back, and it also helps you reach out to new potential diners.
But with so many different social networks to choose from (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram), it can be hard to know where and how best to invest your precious time.
Here are some tips for managing a restaurant’s social media channels that will help you make sure you’re getting the most out of your effort.
- Choose your platforms wisely
- Post consistently
- Concentrate on improving ratings and reviews
- Show off your good reviews
- Add your menu and pictures
- Use #hashtags effectively
- Post videos
- Create a contest
- Cross-promote your platforms
Running a restaurant often means juggling social media marketing on top of everything else. It’s not enough to just set up profiles and hope for the best, you need to be proactive and constantly check what your competitors are doing.
In today’s digital world, social media is a powerful tactic to use in your restaurant marketing plan.
7. Restaurant Guerrilla Marketing
Restaurant guerrilla marketing refers to a marketing strategy that involves coming up with less mainstream ways to market your restaurant for customer demand generation.
Guerrilla marketing can be very effective for many restaurants.
Guerrilla marketing usually involves lower-cost tactics that are easily accessible to restaurants at any level. This can include things like streetside marketing, social media contests, outdoor signage, WiFi marketing, and simple word of mouth.
With more information about guerilla tactics, restaurant owners and operators are finding that they can increase their sales volume without spending too much money on promotional materials.
There are many ways to do this such as sending out emails to people who have signed up for your email marketing mailing list or opted into your WiFi.
This strategy, for example, allows you to stay in contact with your guests while building your guest database at the same time.
Other guerrilla marketing techniques include:
- Outdoor signs
- Sign spinners
- Small local billboards
- Business collaboration
- Google My Business
- Branded swag
- Special events, and more.
Restaurant guerrilla marketing can be a great way to promote your restaurant without spending too much money on advertising.
8. Use Your Website
If you have a website, make sure to include it in your marketing plan ideas.
A great idea is to start a blog on your website. You can blog about anything – menu items, employees, special event, or anything related to the food and beverage industry. The important thing is to set a schedule and blog consistently on that schedule.
Also, make sure to have a form on your website to allow visitors to sign up for your newsletter or blog post reminders.
Another idea is to showcase your ratings and reviews with a small popup window showing your aggregate rating.
Bloom will also generate a small piece of code that you can place into your website that will display an unobtrusive pop-up to show your website visitors your aggregate rating on Google, Facebook, Bloom, or any combination of the three.
This is a great way to show social proof to your website visitors, driving more net new business and helping to improve your restaurant marketing results.
You should display social proof at every customer touch point:
- Your website
- Online ordering sites
- Online ads
- Physical menus
- WiFi captive portals
- Physical signage
- Anywhere your guests will see your brand
9. Test and Optimize
Once you have created your restaurant marketing plan, it is important not to rest on your laurels.
Every strategy you create should be optimized and tested after baseline data is captured.
For example, the best way to optimize and test your restaurant email marketing strategy is through a process called A/B split testing, or AB testing.
To clarify, AB testing involves taking an email message and creating a variation of the message with one major change made, such as:
- Subject line change
- Image change
- Button color change
- Messaging change
Then you can send one message to half of the recipients, and the variation to the other half.
Or, after gathering enough baseline data, you can begin sending the new variation to all campaign recipients.
Then, you measure the data to see which one performed the best. At that point, you will accept the winner as the new campaign email and start the AB test process again on a different element.
Likewise, you can use the information you gathered to apply to other campaigns for AB testing.
The important thing to remember is to only test one thing at a time.
For instance, if you made multiple changes and realized that the email with the changed didn’t perform well, you will not know which change caused the decrease in performance.
Over time, your emails will become more and more optimized, resulting in greater ROI.
Testing and optimization is always a part of a successful marketing plan.
10. Discover Bloom Intelligence
Bloom Intelligence can deliver all of these things for you. We make it simple and easy, and provide white-glove customer support to every client.
Bloom has multiple powerful restaurant marketing tools to help grow your restaurant business.
Quickly grow a large clean customer database, improve ratings and reviews, create social proof, increase foot traffic and customer lifetime values, identify and bring back lost guests, and so much more.
SAVE TIME, INCREASE CUSTOMER LIFETIME VALUES, CREATE NEW CUSTOMERS
What our happy customers
“I highly recommend restaurants, dental/medical offices, and other businesses look into Bloom Intelligence as 1) their marketing technology is very powerful and 2) their team is AWESOME. As a marketing agency, Bloom has helped several of our clients grow their businesses via building their database and re-targeting them at the right time. Thanks Again!”
“We’re extremely pleased with the wealth of customer data that we’re able to gather, at a very attractive price. In addition, we’re able to communicate our new product promotions by using the landing page as a digital billboard. A “no-brainer” for anyone working with limited Marketing $$.”
Bob Cross, Vice President of Operations
Atlanta Bread Company
“This is an integral part of our local store marketing program. We use the e-mails we collect to tell our existing customers about various promotions, specials and discounts, and the analytics tools are amazing at capturing and displaying smart device activity in and around our store.”
Atlanta Bread Company
“They have always been attentive through whatever needs and questions we have.
They go above and beyond to make sure our team and customers stay connected while helping us with our marketing efforts.”
Matt Thompson, Managing Partner
“I am currently working with Bloom Intelligence with Matt Ronay and Edward Kennedy. They are great to work with, respond quickly, and provide great support for noth my company and my clients. I have used other WiFi platforms but never received this level of service. I was looking for a service that would make it easy for me to sell WiFi lead generation and analytics to my clients without a lot of problems. They have provided this above and beyond. I highly recommend them to any agency looking to add this type of program to your services.”
How to Market a Restaurant: FAQs
What is the best marketing strategy for restaurants?
Of all the restaurant marketing strategies, perhaps the most efficient and effective strategy is using a WiFi marketing and analytics platform. It allows you to collect customer contact information, segment your customer list, create targeted, personalized messaging, and remarket to them for maximum results.Learn More About WiFi Marketing and Analytics
What is restaurant remarketing?
Restaurant remarketing is a powerful way to connect with visitors to your website or customers who have logged into your WiFi. It allows you to send targeted advertising, behavior driven promotions to those people through online advertising or email marketing. It’s a key marketing concept that should be a primary focus of restaurant owners and marketers.Learn about Restaurant Remarketing Here
What is restaurant marketing segmentation?
Restaurant customer segmentation refers to the process of subdividing a customer base into specific groups based on similar demographics, psychographics, and/or various behavior data points. This information can guide restaurant marketing professionals when developing new marketing campaigns for each group, or optimizing existing ones to personalize the customer experience online or at their physical locations.Discover the Power of Customer Segmentation for Restaurant Marketing
How do you use smart coupons to market a restaurant?
The best and easiest way to implement and maintain a digital smart coupon program is to use a WiFi marketing and analytics platform like Bloom Intelligence. The platform allows you to easily create and send customers a unique, one-time use code that they can redeem at their next visit. The coupon is stored on their mobile device.See How Digital Smart Coupons Can Improve Your Business