Do you have a restaurant marketing plan? Or are you just adding social media posts and buying newspaper ads at random? If you don’t have a plan in place that you follow religiously, you’re going to have a hard time making marketing work.
A restaurant marketing plan doesn’t have to be tedious, dull or even time-consuming. But it does need to be set in stone otherwise it won’t be actioned.
With a restaurant marketing plan in place, you can map out how you will take your restaurant from where it is now to where you want it to be. Best of all, you’ll have a set of steps drawn up already to make it easy to follow through with.
We know most restaurateurs don’t have time to research, draw up and follow a marketing plan on their own. That’s why we’ve created this six-week schedule aimed at helping you cover your bases before taking your restaurant to new heights. For the purposes of this post, we’re going to assume that the business is pretty much starting from scratch when it comes to marketing and that the owner only has a set amount of time per week. In truth, you could complete this marketing plan in two weeks but that’s just not realistic for most owners.
The first week is going to be the hardest. We’re sorry, but that’s the truth. It’s going to require a lot of thinking, planning and goal setting. It might not be nice to look at the state of your business or outline aims for the future. But you’ll be glad you did.
Set out your goals
The first thing you need to do is to look at the current state of your restaurant and set out realistic goals for the future. Don’t just settle for abstract goals like “get more customers”. Take the time to think about what you really want from the business. Do you want to be so successful that you can afford to close for half the week for instance? Do you ultimately want to sell the business? Once you decide where you want to go, you can work out how to get there.
Assign a budget
Next, you’re going to have to take a hard look at your finances and work out how much money you can dedicate to this marketing plan. Your budget will depend on your goals so it is hard to give an accurate general estimate. Typically, though, expect to dedicate at least $500 per month to executing your marketing plan. The loftier your goals, the more you’ll have to contribute.
After establishing goals and setting a budget last week, week two will see us start to take action. We are increasingly living in a digital world so this will be our first port of call.
Create a Google profile
Don’t worry, it’s not as complicated as it sounds. In fact, we have a whole blog post dedicated to it. Specifically, we want to sign up to Google Analytics, so we can track people using our website and Google My Business so that we can claim our business listing and start improving our local SEO. Follow all the steps in this blog post to make sure you are up to date with everything Google.
Create social media profiles
Social media provides a way for restaurants to promote themselves for free (or for a small fee). It’s quick and easy to create accounts with most of the social media platforms and there are plenty of guides online (we even have our own guide on getting started with Facebook). You’re going to want to create branded accounts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram at least.
Claim your listings on review sites
You are also going to want to claim your listing on all of the top review sites. Doing so doesn’t just allow you to flesh out your profile with opening times, contact details and other bits of information, it also offers you the opportunity to engage with reviewers, thanking them or responding to their criticisms. Make sure that you at least sign up with Yelp and TripAdvisor.
Week 2 was a lot of admin work. In week 3, we’re going to look at creating a schedule to take advantage of all the profile you signed up for last week.
Creating a social schedule
Being active on social media is key to your ongoing success. But you’ll need a schedule in order to make sure that you keep posting regularly. That’s why all of this week is going to be dedicated to creating a social calendar for the month ahead. You’ll want to post to Instagram once every two days, every day to Twitter and every three or so days for Facebook. You’ll also want to set aside an hour or two every week to go through and respond to online reviews. Make sure you block it out in your diary otherwise you’ll never do it.
It goes without saying that the first thing you should do in week 4 is to carry out the social calendar that you created last week. But that’s not all you have to do this week.
Take a look at email
By now, even if you were a brand new restaurant in week 1, you should have had a load of customers and online orders. That means you probably have some customer email addresses to hand. This is the week where you put them to good use. Firstly, collate them all into one spreadsheet. Secondly, take a look at our post on email marketing and sign up to MailChimp. We’re not going to tell you what to email your customers, you can find plenty of ideas online, but we will tell you to create an email schedule and implement a way to gain the emails from new customers. This can be through online orders, online bookings, or getting them to fill out a feedback form with the cheque in return for a chance at winning a prize.
After two weeks of social media content, hopefully, your accounts are looking pretty full and active. We’re going to double down on social media this week.
Paying for social advertising
Social media adverts are a very cost-effective way to reach thousands of local people who may be interested in your restaurant. All of the platforms discussed so far, but we recommend limiting yourself to Facebook and Instagram for now. You’ll need some decent marketing skills (or the help of a restaurant marketing company) to create great looking ads, but this is where your marketing budget can finally start spending. We recommend only spending $20 or so a day to start with to first see how effective the ads are. If successful, we can start ramping up the spending to increase ROI.
In the final week of this marketing plan, we will be looking at how to plan for the future and keep your marketing plan relevant.
Sticking to your schedules
The most important thing to do is to stick to the social and email schedules that you have set out so far. These will be the best ways to improve your restaurant’s profile and the market for free. But that’s not all you should be doing.
Consider advanced marketing strategies
Now you have all your bases covered, you can start to look at investing in more advanced strategies like SEO and PPC marketing. If you are already hitting your goals and targets they may not be necessary, but most business owners will find them beneficial in increasing the reach and exposure of their restaurant.
Look to the future
Creating a restaurant marketing plan doesn’t stop here. Take a look back through our blog posts for marketing ideas for every month of the year. There are always one-off promotions you can run to bring more exposure and more customers to your restaurant. But it’s up to you to action them.
Let’s build your restaurant marketing plan together
At The Digital Restaurant, we’re well versed in creating in-depth, effective and actionable restaurant marketing plans. We take the time to understand your restaurant and your current situation, working with you to develop and implement a marketing plan that gets helps you win and retain new fans. Together, we’ll make your restaurant a success. Get in touch today to book your free consultation.