According to the National Restaurant Association, there are over one million restaurants in the United States. Of these, over 155,000 are single-location full-service restaurants competing with hundreds of thousands of chain restaurants, fast food dining options, and other venues. Understandably, there is huge pressure for independent, single-location business owners to make a mark on the restaurant scene.
You may not be in direct competition with all of the other restaurants out there, but you're definitely in competition with the other restaurants in your area. Even if your food is amazing (and even if other restaurants serve a different kind of fare than you do), you need to engage in a fair bit of restaurant marketing to have any hope of success in the long term.
Don't know how to market a restaurant? It's time to learn! But don’t worry, we’ll walk you through the basics.
How To Market a Restaurant
To bring in more customers to your restaurant, you should make a restaurant marketing plan. This involves more than creating a costumed mascot who'll stand outside your business hoping to bring new customers in.
A restaurant marketing plan is a great organizational tool that can help you get the most out of your marketing efforts. What does it involve? More than a few things, including knowing your options, setting a budget, and speaking to your target customer persona.
1. Know Your Restaurant Marketing Options
In the past, you were limited to a few marketing mediums like TV, radio, and print. Today, along with those traditional advertising spots, you can also have pop-up ads on a local news website, or short video ads that are shown in movie theaters. You can set up a solid Google business profile, build out an online menu, and email out newsletters.
In addition, having a strong social media presence with high ratings on Yelp, OpenTable, TripAdvisor, and Facebook can go a long way towards helping market your restaurant. Make sure you utilize aesthetically pleasing photos of your restaurant atmosphere and close-up photos of drinks and dishes. Social media marketing is also beneficial as it creates a community of customers and advocates. Encourage conversation on your Instagram and Facebook accounts. Or, take things to the next level and develop a loyalty program for even more customer involvement.
2. Set a Budget and Goals for Restaurant Marketing
Before you set out on a restaurant marketing push, you need to determine how much you're willing to spend. Are you planning on going all out on every medium with TV spots, banner ads on local websites, inserts in the newspaper, mailers, and scheduled posts on social media? Or are you considering a more focused approach?
Setting a budget for your restaurant marketing plan will help you come up with realistic goals and measurable benchmarks to shoot for. For example, a restaurant without a social media presence could set the following goals:
- Establish a Facebook business account and post 2x per week
- 71% of adults in the U.S. use Facebook daily
- 74% of people use social media when making a purchasing decision — that’s a significant percentage!
- Establish an Instagram account and post 2x per week
- Instagram has approximately 849 million users with 63% of users active every day
- Respond to customers quickly on social media
- According to Lunchbox’s Restaurant Industry Statistics guide, over 70% of customers are likely to recommend a restaurant that responds quickly to them on social media
A restaurant with an established social media presence could set the following goals:
- Post interactive stories to increase engagement
- Most businesses post 2-3 stories per week according to Hootsuite
- Consider using social media posts or stories to advertise promotions just for your social media followers — you’ll make them feel special and drive traffic to your restaurant
- Optimize your content and posting schedule
- Don’t ignore the data — check out your analytics to see what’s working, then do more of that
Keep in mind that you might not see results right away. That’s okay! New tactics can take time to prove valuable, and at the end of the day if something’s really not working out you can always pivot.
Ensure that your restaurant marketing budget is set at an amount that won't hurt your bottom line. It may help to make marketing budgeting a quarterly process so you’re reminded to re-evaluate your spending on a regular cadence.
3. Create a Target Persona, and Speak To Them
Who is your average customer? Who do you want to market your restaurant to? Who do you want the experience at your restaurant to appeal to? If you haven't already figured all this out, now is the time. Another essential step for your restaurant marketing plan is to create a target persona for the demographics you're trying to attract.
When creating your target customer persona, ask yourself:
- Who are your target customers?
- What do they do for a living?
- Where do they live?
- How far are they willing to drive for a good meal?
- Why do they choose to eat at your restaurant?
- What are their dining habits?
- When do they most often visit your restaurant?
All of these details are part of your target customer persona. Figure them out, craft a restaurant marketing plan that speaks directly to them, and you'll have a set of goals to work towards. You don't have to only market to your target persona, but you should ensure you're doing all you can to reach them.
4. Implement Your Restaurant Marketing Plan
At this point, your restaurant marketing plan should be ready to go with goals in mind, platforms to advertise on, a target persona to speak to, and a set budget to work with. Go forth and market your business!
Don't forget to regularly check your marketing plan and see if you're getting a return on your investment. Sense a need to change course? Feel free to do so — it's your restaurant marketing plan, after all.
Keep Your Restaurant Staffed With Qwick
Now that you have your restaurant marketing plan and are implementing it, you need a solid strategy to keep your restaurant staffed. You never know when you might need an extra hand, especially if your restaurant marketing ideas lead to an increase in customers! What will you do when that happens? With Qwick, you don't need to worry about it.
Qwick’s professional platform for the hospitality industry is there for you whenever you need it. Fast, intuitive, and convenient, Qwick connects you with qualified freelancers in the hospitality industry so you'll never be understaffed. Sign up for Qwick today and post a shift to see how easy restaurant staffing can be.