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Restaurants rely on local business, which means awareness is everything. Before they can stop in for a meal, customers need to know your establishment exists. That’s the role of marketing and advertising: to build awareness and familiarity in your target audience as a way to boost sales.
Get your brand out there
Marketing is one of the most important aspects of operating a restaurant. An effective marketing strategy helps your business succeed by:
- Building brand awareness and name recognition
- Creating relationships with your target audience
- Distinguishing your restaurant from competitors
- Convincing customers to try your food
- Increasing sales and revenue
The way you market your restaurant also strengthens its brand — the way the public perceives and identifies the business. It’s hard to overestimate the value of a compelling and powerful brand. It builds familiarity, trust, and loyalty in your customers, making them more likely to choose your restaurant over competitors.
What’s the difference between marketing and restaurant advertising? Advertising is one facet of marketing; a restaurant advertisement typically involves promoting your restaurant through paid channels.
How to market your restaurant
The most effective restaurant marketing strategies use a multi-pronged approach. By showcasing your food and brand on a variety of channels, it’s possible to reach different sectors of your target audience.
This strategy also increases the number of times customers are exposed to your brand. That’s important for the legendary “Rule of Seven,” which states that viewers need to see an ad or marketing campaign seven times before they take action.
As you write a restaurant marketing plan, make sure to include a broad selection of platforms.
1. Email marketing
Email marketing is one of the most valuable forms of marketing for the food industry. You own the email list, which means you can communicate with recipients at any time — without relying on a search engine algorithm or a platform to show your content to followers.
Email is particularly effective for restaurants because it enables you to control when viewers see marketing messages. Want to boost midday sales? Send out an email with the daily lunch specials at 10:30 a.m., when office workers are starting to think about lunch. Is Mother’s Day coming up? Help customers decide how to celebrate by sending an email announcing a holiday brunch.
2. Social media
When diners are trying to pick a restaurant, they often scroll through locations or relevant hashtags on social media to find an appealing option. Social media marketing increases your chances of showing up in those searches.
To build a powerful social media presence for your restaurant, you must capture diners’ attention when they’re ready to buy. This process typically involves:
- Selecting the platforms that are popular among your customers
- Posting beautiful food photography and videos
- Humanizing your brand with “behind the scenes” content
- Boosting engagement with content and special discounts
- Including links to your website and online ordering system
3. Paid restaurant ads
Advertising usually requires you to pay for placement. Your restaurant advertisement strategy should include both print and digital ads, including:
- Social media advertising. Instagram and Facebook ads can be targeted to reach your ideal customer. You can customize them with photos of food, interiors, or employees.
- Google display ads. By joining the Google ad network, you can position your restaurant’s advertisements on participating websites.
- Restaurant billboards. Billboards are essentially supersized print ads that sit in high-traffic areas.
- Print ads in newspapers and magazines. This type of traditional advertising tends to work well for an older demographic.
- Radio ads. Reach customers while they’re driving with paid radio ads that promote your food or special deals.
- Podcast ads. Like radio ads, these promotions are audio-only. They typically appear during podcast breaks. Podcasting is a popular medium for younger listeners.
- Video advertising. Video promotions often appear in television commercials; you can also use them as display ads on websites and YouTube.
- Direct mail. Send restaurant ads through the physical mail. This is an effective way to stand out from the online noise and promote a grand opening, special event, or new menu. You can even include discount coupons as an added incentive.
A great restaurant ad is attention-grabbing and easy to understand — viewers should be able to comprehend the message in seconds. In many cases, effective ads use emotions to create a fast, powerful connection with customers. Finally, make sure to include a call to action to convince the audience to visit your website, follow you on social media, sign up for the email list or stop by your restaurant.
4. Print marketing
Digital marketing has gained traction in recent decades, but traditional print marketing can still be a powerful tool. You might create flyers to put up on local billboards or print a brochure to leave at hotels in the area. You can also staple your print marketing materials or special deals to customers’ takeout and delivery order bags. If your restaurant offers catering services, a printed catalog with a food menu can help event planners and wedding venues share your business with clients.
Other types of print marketing include:
- Business cards
- Table tents
- Bag inserts
5. Content marketing
Content marketing is the process of creating and sharing blog posts, videos and social media content to promote your restaurant. You can include both direct and indirect promotions. A social media post might announce your latest special outright; a blog post could take a more indirect route by sharing a popular recipe or discussing the food scene in your city.
Tips and tricks for marketing a restaurant
No matter what platforms you choose, use these restaurant advertising and marketing tips to attract more customers:
- Invest in high-quality photography and video to showcase your food and restaurant in the best light.
- Include deals and discounts to give customers an additional reason to come in.
- Keep an eye on competitors and stay up-to-date with their marketing strategies.
- Engage customers by asking for feedback, particularly on social media.
- Fill out your Google Business profile completely.
- Experiment with advertisements in a variety of locations and refine your strategy to include the ones with the highest response.
How much should you spend on advertising?
Restaurant advertising can be as affordable or as expensive as your budget allows. As a rule of thumb, marketing experts suggest that small businesses spend between 7% and 8% of their revenue on marketing. For most companies, advertising spend should account for no more than 20% of the total marketing budget.
If your restaurant has a yearly revenue of $1 million, the marketing budget would be $70,000 to $80,000. Your maximum advertising budget would fall between $14,000 and $16,000.
The actual budget can vary significantly from restaurant to restaurant. Some businesses see a high return on their ads, so they spend more. Others may be more successful with other types of marketing and choose to invest accordingly.
When you’re just starting out, you might want to spend more on paid ads. As soon as your organic marketing strategies catch up — you build a social media following or bring in traffic to blog posts, for example — you can reduce the advertising budget.
Calculating the ROI of your restaurant marketing efforts
At the end of the day, the goal of promotional activities is to bring in new customers and increase food sales. As a restaurant owner, it’s helpful to monitor the return on investment (ROI) of your restaurant marketing and advertising campaigns. The results can help you design a targeted strategy and set an appropriate budget. To calculate the ROI, use this formula:
(sales growth – marketing cost)/marketing cost = ROI
For example, if you spend $1,500 on marketing in a quarter and see a $5,000 increase in sales during the same period, you would calculate ROI with this equation: ($5,000-$1,500)/$1,500 = 2.33%.
There are no set rules for an acceptable ROI. In general, the higher the ROI, the more successful the strategy. To find the strategies that work best for your restaurant, calculate the ROI for different advertising and marketing campaigns.
As you create a marketing and advertising plan for your restaurant, remember that it’s a process. With trial and error and regular attention, you can develop a refined strategy that brings in customers and increases sales.
Growing your advertising reach with Grubhub
Reaching customers is difficult for any restaurant. That’s why it helps to have a trusted partner like Grubhub by your side. When you list your restaurant on Grubhub Marketplace, you have instant access to 33+ million paying customers. You can run promotions and get access to loyalty tools to advertise your business, growing your brand.
Ready to grow your business? Sign up for Grubhub today.