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Creating a Restaurant Marketing Plan in 5 Steps

An effective marketing plan is vital for a profitable, thriving restaurant business. Ambitious, targeted marketing efforts are as important to your restaurant’s success as day to day operations. Your marketing plan should focus on reaching out to new customers to expand your clientele base, keep loyal customers coming back and differentiating yourself from the competition.

Step 1 - Goals:

Set clear marketing goals. Be clear on who you target demographics is. This will depend partly on the type of restaurant for example fine dining, fast casual or quick service, the type of food and the location. For example if your restaurant is downtown in the business district, you could focus on the business lunch crowd and brainstorm with ways to increase traffic during slower periods. This may include expanding the menu to include appetizers, desserts and dinner specials. You could also advertise your restaurant’s catering services.

Step 2 - Create an Inviting atmosphere:

Your restaurant should be open and inviting. Much of this centers around the décor. If you have wood paneling or solid wood floors, accentuate it that with some quality wood chairs, bar stools or wood booths. Wood has a warmer feel and is more comfortable. If your place has an industrial look, go with metal chairs and bar stools for a more modern look. If you have ample outdoor space, take advantage of that when the weather is pleasant with some outdoor seating. Have a waiting bench in your lobby or by the front entrance and place some potted plants around for a cozier feel.

Step 3 - Come up with a good marketing slogan:

Your slogan should become an important part of your brand image. If your restaurant is known for low prices or for good deals on all you can eat buffets, advertise that. For example if you have steak specials a good marketing slogan would be “Home of the $4.99 Steak!” If the restaurant has a unique theme or specializes in an uncommon ethnic cuisine, such as Cambodian food, those are good strengths to play on that will help distinguish you from the competition. A clever marketing slogan could also drive attention to your theme for example if your restaurant is the Rainforest Café, a good slogan might be “It’s a jungle in here”. Be sure to advertise any entertainment you have. Market your slogan in a variety of mediums such as the internet and local media.

Step 4 - Get involved in your community:

Set clear marketing goals. Be clear on who you target demographics is. This will depend partly on the type of restaurant for example fine dining, fast casual or quick service, the type of food and the location. For example if your restaurant is downtown in the business district, you could focus on the business lunch crowd and brainstorm with ways to increase traffic during slower periods. This may include expanding the menu to include appetizers, desserts and dinner specials. You could also advertise your restaurant’s catering services.

Step 5 - Manage online marketing:

Keep active on social media networks. Your business should have a Facebook page and it’s a good idea to also have an Instagram and twitter account. Keep your social media pages active with update information. Include information about your restaurant as well such as hours and display a menu with prices. Include photos of your dishes and cuisine and tweet new specials and post them on your Facebook page. Be sure to also manage reviews. Negative reviews on sites such as Yelp and Urban Spoon can damage your business’s reputation and scare away customers. Reach out to customers who have posted negative reviews and try to resolve the issue. This can include sending an email or letter to the customer personally and responding to a review on Yelp. Also encourage customers to share their experiences at your establishment on your Facebook page and on the review sites. Maintaining a positive image online means being proactive.