What is the Best Marketing Strategy for Restaurants?

A superior restaurant marketing strategy is absolutely crucial.

Not only does it help you keep your current customers and attract new customers, but it's essential to short term and long-term growth.

You know this already.

But what you may not know is Your Strategic Marketing Partner is going to give you some absolutely fantastic tools and resources in this brief tutorial that you can use to skyrocket your results.

What is the Best Marketing Strategy for Restaurants?
The first step for the best marketing strategy for restaurants is to deliver what your ideal customer wants. Then, develop an omni-channel local marketing plan (multiple sources of sales) focused on the budget you have available to acquire customers, including mobile, online advertising, a local grassroots program with other complimentary businesses, local advertising, and local direct mail. Finally, based on your brand and customer expectations, provide great food and service to your customers so they want to come back often.

You see, marketing your restaurant in the current digital world can be challenging. Currently, customers have a dizzying array of restaurant options that compete for your customer’s attention, way beyond just the convenience of a great location.

That said, read on to learn some of the best and most effective restaurant marketing strategies that can improve your marketing strategy and get you closer to your goals of total market domination!

Restaurant Marketing Best Practices

You should absolutely understand your target audience before rolling out your marketing campaign. Otherwise, even the best marketing practices won’t be effective if you market to the wrong audience. Remember that different audiences respond differently to various channels.

There are two basic methods that once you nail down will immediately help you gain a competitive edge over your competitors who are looking to steal your customer at every opportunity.

Restaurant Marketing Best Practices
Best practices for restaurant marketing starts with having a clear focus on your positioning in the market and delivering what your ideal customer wants. Next, build a strong local marketing plan including optimizing your business for Google My Business, local online ordering services, and delivering your message to your ideal customers within the radius that is ideal for your restaurant. Finally, once you have gained a base of customers, focus on developing strategies to keep them coming back using marketing tactics such as email, loyalty programs and special offers including holidays, birthdays, incentives and special occasions. 

First, you need to know your restaurant customer’s basic demographics. Start with these 4 items:

  1. What is the general category of your location? Is it fine-dining, casual, family, fast casual, fast food, cafe, food truck, or something else?
  2. What’s the radius around your location where the majority of your customers live? Apply the Rule of 80/20. You can simply use Google Maps to get an idea of the radius. There are plenty of free tools that can help you define the radius so you can develop your marketing plan (see below for building your plan).
  3. Does your restaurant attract more male customers, female, older adults, younger, families? What’s the approximate age range?
  4. What approximate income levels do most of your customers fall into? What income levels would you prefer?

Get this information sorted out and documented, even if just in a google doc with the title: “My XYZ Restaurant Customer Demographics”

Second, this is where you start to focus on communicating your restaurant’s brand and unique messaging in the market.

Here is where we narrow in on the psychographics of your ideal customer base.

Typically, we use a very simple framework called VALS which segments consumers into eight mindsets using psychological traits and demographics. You can see a breakdown of the 8 types here.  As an example, do you position your restaurant to the "survivors" mindset, or to the "innovators" mindset. If you serve a basic no frills cheeseburger with the basics: beef, bun, lettuce and tomato, a survivor mindset may be in your market.  But if you serve the ultimate cheeseburger with mushroom sauce, a baguette bun, and pepper-jack cheese imported from Italy served with a red wine, you might cater to an innovator personality.

Get a rough idea of your ideal customer’s psychographics, this will serve you well as you build your messaging for your marketing strategy.

Let’s move on to some of the best current restaurant marketing practices to consider;

  • Enable Mobile Ordering and Deliveries

With modern clientele demanding flexible and personalized services, restaurants have experimented with several options, including self-service kiosks to customers ordering from their tables using mobile devices. Another significant shift is the partnership between restaurants and delivery service providers. Besides offering customers great flexibility, promotions by delivery websites and apps give restaurants great visibility.

Here’s seven online ordering and delivery services that can drive business to your restaurant:

  1. Postmates
  2. Eat 24
  3. DoorDash
  4. EZCater
  5. SpotOn
  6. Grubhub
  7. Uber eats

Each has fees and may not be in your area, but are definitely worth testing. Be sure to have a great marketing system in place that can keep these customers coming back to your restaurant once these services initially bring them to you. The goal is to always have your best customers return, otherwise it's just one transaction and gone -- not a good business model for your restaurant, let alone any business.

Here are some examples of how Dunkin Donuts handles their mobile orders in their store. Your restaurant could easily do something similar based on your brand and who you serve.

dunkin restaurant mobile orders example 1
restaurant mobile orders example 2
 restaurant mobile orders example 3
  • Set Up an Accurate Google My Business Profile

Your restaurant business benefits greatly from having an accurate Google My Business profile. A complete profile on Google, Yelp, and other local listings increase your chances of winning customers. Since customers can easily search again if they miss some information, you should ensure that your restaurant profile is complete and accurate. Therefore, ensure that you claim your GMB listing, as you will have control over what your audience can see. These profiles also improve local SEO. While it's free, we do suggest allocating a budget for great images and someone to regularly manage this important tool.

  • Encourage Yelp Reviews

Interestingly, customers can still review your business even without setting up a Yelp account. Therefore, you should be proactive about improving your YELP reputation. A business Account on Yelp allows you to complete your profile by updating photos, location, menu, and hours open. Find ways of soliciting positive reviews as they boost your business’ credibility.

  • Use Mobile-Friendly Website and Menu

With more than half of website visits coming from mobile devices, you should ensure that your website is mobile-friendly. Doing this promotes your online search presence, especially on search engines and review websites. Your menu should also be easy to read, accurate, and mobile-friendly. Be sure to login to your Google search console to help you manage this process and ensure your site is built for mobile and loads fast.

How Do You Market a Restaurant?

Digital technologies have changed how owners and marketers approach restaurant marketing. Restaurant owners no longer depend just on word of mouth and newspaper advertising to market their enterprises. Below are some digital marketing strategies to consider when marketing your restaurant.

  • Go Social

The current digital era has promoted “food porn,” with social media platforms bustling with pictures of mouth-watering delicacies. If you want more orders, you should make use of social media sites to promote your restaurant. While you can use various platforms, Instagram and Facebook are the best.

  • Have a website and keep it regularly maintained

Building your website for your restaurant equals having a food shop globally. You should create a professional website if you want to grow your restaurant, as it allows you to reach a wider audience.

  • Use Contests

Contests are a great way of marketing your restaurant business. Unlike other businesses, run both online and offline contests to reach online and offline customers.

  • Partner with Local Food Bloggers

Leveraging networks established by other businesses is a great marketing strategy. Local food bloggers and influencers can connect you to their followers.

  • List Your Restaurant on Food Apps

Food apps have made it easy for consumers to find suitable dining places, replacing boring directories and web searches. Take advantage of this and list your restaurant of popular food apps in your locality.

Restaurant Business Strategy Examples

Below are examples of restaurant marketing strategies that you should borrow insights from;

  • FiveGuys restaurant makes good use of social media marketing by highlighting their customers on their platforms. The restaurant features satisfied customers on its Facebook page, which is a great way of showing customers that you appreciate their presence.
  • The Cheesecake factory does a great job of showcasing seasonal items on their menu. They take pictures of tasty desserts or beverages and share them on their Facebook page with good descriptions.
  • Email marketing campaigns targeting birthdays and other special days generate approximately 342% more revenue than promotional emails. This is what Jersey Mike’s Sub Shop takes advantage of.

How Can Restaurants Improve Marketing?

While the above strategies have proven effective, you can improve your restaurant marketing results by doing the following 9 strategies to gain and keep more restaurant customers;

  • Develop Loyalty Programs
  • Take Foodie Photos
  • Set Geo-Targeted Ads
  • Promote User-Generated Content
  • Show off your restaurant staff
  • Monitor your social media presence
  • Set up Google alerts
  • Offer discounts and coupons
  • Leverage mobile ads

Ok, let’s now construct a simple method for you to manage your marketing plan and bring all this together, both your marketing budget and your strategy, in a simple and effective system.

Using an excel workbook or Google sheets, here’s an example of what we do for our best customers and you can, too. Or, just call us and we’d be happy to help you get started, and delighted to work with you!

While we aren’t going through every marketing strategy as listed in this document, this is plenty for you to organize your marketing strategies and keep it maintained with your budgets:your restaurant local marketing budget and planThis will give you a framework for organizing your marketing plan and how much you have available to spend.

This is a very easy to use framework, you literally just model this example based on how you are going to spend your budget.

The restaurant business is a growing trend with fierce competition. Therefore, you should implement effective restaurant marketing strategies to succeed and capitalize on this trend.

While doing this, remember that your restaurant’s online success highly depends on offline performance as well. Therefore, make sure that your offline activities are on track.

If you need assistance along the way, we are delighted to help!

About Your Strategic Marketing Partner
Sam Hirschberg, MBA, is Your Strategic Marketing Partner in Arizona. Always professional and a delight to work with, Sam is not your typical “marketing consultant”. Unlike most consultants who tell you there is a problem and say, “See you later and good luck!” Your Strategic Marketing Partner knows how to find solutions, execute programs, test and measure campaigns, and how-and-when it’s time to roll-out big! You are invited to call (602) 892-0777 to learn more about Sam’s background on his FREE 9-minute recorded message.  For more information about Sam, please visit https://strategicmarketingpartner.com.

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