Restaurant Marketing Mix: A Comprehensive Guide For Operators

restaurant marketing mix

In today’s rapidly evolving restaurant industry, mastering the marketing mix tailored to your specific independent restaurant or brand is not just beneficial—it’s essential for survival and success. The ongoing shifts brought by the pandemic have intensified competition, making the marketplace a battleground for both local eateries and large chains.

Regularly revisiting and optimizing your restaurant’s marketing mix is crucial to ensure peak performance and maintain a competitive edge. A robust marketing mix acts as a strategic compass, guiding where to focus and allocate resources effectively, regardless of whether times are prosperous or challenging. This approach is key to driving profits and staying ahead in the fiercely competitive restaurant sector.

What is a Restaurant Marketing Mix?

Understanding the marketing mix: the marketing mix, often referred to as the 4P’s of Marketing, includes Product, Price, Place, and Promotion. This concept was first identified by Harvard professors in 1960 and remains the foundational model for developing marketing strategies.

In the context of a restaurant, understanding the 4P’s can help create a simple yet effective marketing plan tailored for small business operators. Here’s what each element means for your business:

  • Product: Refers to your menu offerings, including the variety and quality of dishes you serve.
  • Price: Involves the pricing strategy for your menu items, balancing competitiveness and profitability.
  • Place: Pertains to your restaurant’s location and its competitive positioning in the market.
  • Promotion: Encompasses the deals, specials, and marketing campaigns you use to attract and retain customers.

The marketing mix serves as the core framework of your marketing plan, ensuring alignment with your business goals.

Developing the Right Marketing Mix for Your Restaurant

To create an effective marketing mix for your restaurant, start by gaining clarity on the following key areas:

  1. Market Segment:
    • Understand the market segment your business occupies. Your restaurant may fall into one or more of these segments: dining, carryout & delivery, and catering.
  2. Target Customer:
    • Identify who you are selling to. Understanding your customers’ needs and wants is essential. Gather information about their age, gender, income, location, and other relevant demographics.
  3. Competition:
    • Identify and analyze your competitors within each market segment. Evaluate their menu offerings, pricing strategies, promotions, and online presence to determine your positioning relative to theirs.

By clarifying these aspects, you can develop a marketing mix that aligns with your business goals and effectively targets your desired customer base.

Marketing Objectives Examples for a Restaurant

Setting clear marketing objectives is essential for the success of your restaurant. By defining specific goals, you can create focused strategies that drive growth and ensure your marketing efforts are effective. Here are some examples of marketing objectives tailored for a restaurant, along with recommended strategies to achieve them:

  1. Acquire New Customers by Increasing Brand Awareness:
    • Scenario: New location opening, relocation, launching a new segment, or reviving sales.
    • Recommendation: Utilize Google Ads to reach a broader audience.
  2. Enhance Customer Engagement to Build a Loyal Customer Base:
    • Scenario: Develop a loyal customer base through engaging ad content.
    • Recommendation: Use retargeting on Facebook and Instagram to maintain and increase customer engagement.
  3. Drive Traffic to Boost Sales (Reservations, Orders):
    • Scenario: Attract more visitors to your website and physical location, and increase online reservations, takeout, and delivery orders.
    • Recommendation: Conduct A/B testing on Facebook, Instagram, and Google, then scale successful ads.
  4. Improve Customer Satisfaction:
    • Scenario: Enhance the overall customer experience to ensure satisfaction and repeat business.
    • Recommendation: Implement feedback systems and personalized marketing to address customer needs and preferences.

These targeted objectives (examples) help guide your marketing strategy and ensure that your efforts align with your restaurant’s goals.

If you don’t know where you’re going with your marketing, you will end up spending money and never getting anything in return. Clarifying your marketing objectives should help you determine how much your total marketing budget should be since you can weigh the importance of achieving those objectives relative to other budget items for your restaurant.

Your marketing budget should be thoughtfully planned, much like payroll and pricing, ensuring a dedicated percentage of business revenues goes towards marketing. Here are some guidelines for setting a sensible marketing budget:

  • New Location or Business Transformation: Allocate 10-20% of revenue forecast.
  • Established Business: Allocate 2-6% of gross revenues.

Remember, these are rough guidelines, and the actual percentage may vary depending on your specific business needs and circumstances. However, it is crucial to always maintain a marketing budget to attract new customers and increase cash flow, facilitating your business’s growth.

Next, what is the ideal restaurant marketing mix for my business?

Components of Restaurant Marketing Mix

Here are 12 marketing channels for you to consider in your marketing mix:

1. Direct Mail Marketing

Restaurants and pizzerias have used direct mail for years. Sending a postcard, brochure, or letter, direct mail is a proven approach to finding new customers in the local area. You can consider adding this to your restaurant marketing mix.

direct mail

It is effective with certain higher age groups and demographics. Consumers have come to trust it. Offering special offers and coupons are very effective way to attract new customers.

Including the restaurant website link and including images of the restaurant mobile app is a great way to integrate online marketing to direct mail campaign

With high view rates, this is a great way to stay top of mind.

The costs can range from a few cents to over 60 cents per mailer, depending on the type of mailer. This includes the postage costs.

Tracking redemptions can be a challenge, but it is important to track to be able to measure return on investment (ROI) on direct mail campaigns.

Do you need help with a strategy to track and maximize ROI from current or new direct mail campaigns? Contact us for a strategy session »

2. Call Campaigns

This is a very effective channel for marketing your restaurant’s catering services to other local businesses. You should consider testing this method and adding it to your restaurant marketing mix.

contact us

Picking up the phone is a simple and inexpensive way to build new relationships and grow your business. This is a great tactic for local marketing.

It can be time-consuming, but very effective in building trust due to the personal interaction with the customer.

This can provide a great return on investment on efforts related to building catering business with higher average checks.

3. Billboard Advertising

Restaurants and pizzerias have used billboard advertising for a very long time. Billboards are expensive and can run anywhere from 3000-5000 per month. They also take a long time to capture attention. It is difficult to track responses and measure ROI.

Billboard ads

Including the restaurant website link and including images of the restaurant mobile app is a great way to convert drive-by views to online traffic. It is important to have an easy to remember URL for customers to remember. It is also important to optimize your restaurant website to be found when people search for your restaurant name online.

If you include billboard advertising in your restaurant marketing mix, remember to have a way to track responses to ensure the relatively big spend is producing a positive return on investment.

One simple but effective strategy is to use a coupon code for use with online ordering or call in. The online ordering and POS report at the end of the campaign can show how many conversions resulted from the billboard ads.

4. Search Engine Optimization

The foundation of a solid online presence begins with a well-designed website and effective search engine optimization (SEO). While you can hire SEO experts, the most impactful SEO often comes from making your website “functional” by integrating your website with your social media platforms. This integration enhances your online visibility through customer-friendly design, social media interaction, content marketing, and inbound marketing strategies. Additionally, it’s crucial to have compelling sales copy on your website to convert visitors into customers.

google search

It is highly recommended to include search engine optimization in your restaurant marketing mix as it supports other online and offline channels.

If you are looking for ideas on how to improve your restaurant website, read article on “5 Must-Have Features For Every Restaurant Website

5. Local Search Optimization

Ensure your restaurant is easily discoverable by registering your website in local directories and keeping your listings up-to-date. Claim your business pages on these directories to maintain accurate information about your restaurant, such as the menu, cuisine type, location, website URL, and contact number.

local search marketing for restaurants

Optimizing your local search presence is a crucial element of the restaurant marketing mix, helping your business stand out in the local community. This strategy enhances visibility and accessibility for potential customers actively searching for dining options like yours.

6. Email Marketing

Email marketing is an efficient and budget-friendly tool that allows you to consistently engage with your existing customer base while reaching out to potential new patrons. Unlike direct mail or mobile marketing, which can often prompt immediate reactions but require more investment, email marketing provides a platform for more subtle, ongoing communication. This can foster a comfortable and familiar environment for users, encouraging regular interaction without seeming intrusive.

restaurant email marketing ideas

When properly implemented, email marketing can deliver a significant return on investment (ROI). This high ROI is primarily due to the relatively low costs associated with running email campaigns, which include designing emails, managing lists, and sending messages. Additionally, email allows for detailed tracking and analysis of user engagement and campaign effectiveness, helping restaurants refine their strategies for better results.

Moreover, email marketing can be strategically used to drive various business goals, including promoting new menu items, sharing exclusive offers, soliciting feedback, and encouraging event participation. It also supports customer retention strategies by keeping your restaurant top-of-mind through regular updates and personalized communications.

Incorporating email marketing into your restaurant’s marketing mix not only boosts your ROI but also strengthens customer relationships over the long term. By delivering targeted content that resonates with your audience, you can increase the likelihood of repeat visits and higher customer lifetime value.

To learn more about how to have an effective email marketing program for your restaurant, read article on “Restaurant Email Marketing: A Complete Guide

7. Social Media Marketing

Leveraging social media has become an essential strategy. In today’s world, people spend nearly a third of their day engaging with social media platforms.

To ensure your restaurant connects with this vast audience, it’s crucial to have a strong presence on social media. This means more than just occasional posts; it involves a committed strategy that includes regular updates and active engagement with your customers.

social media sites

Incorporating social media marketing into your marketing mix demands dedicated resources. This includes personnel to manage your social media accounts, craft engaging content, and interact with customers daily, helping to build a loyal community around your brand.

8. Mobile Marketing

People respond way more to text messages than they do to emails or direct mail but you need to be careful because it can be more invasive to the user.

restaurant mobile marketing ideas

Mobile apps now have the capability of push notifications that are slowly replacing text messaging. Consider a mobile app for your business that offers users priority info, special offers, and deals.

Adding mobile marketing to your restaurant marketing mix needs an implementation strategy for developing your mobile app and mobile promotions.

9. Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Ads

Compared to traditional advertising, pay-per-click advertising offers some great advantages.

It is extremely cost-effective, you can target specific demographics with amazing precision and one of the greatest advertising innovation.

online restaurant ordering platform

Retargeting. This makes your ad pop up everywhere your potential customer goes remembering this person that they once showed interest in your business.

Another advantage of online PPC advertising is tracking and analytics, tracking services can give you very specific information about your target market and what they best respond to.

Google AdwordsThis platform allows your to advertise on specific search results so that people who are looking for what you offer have no problem finding it.

Facebook/Instagram AdsIt’s a platform with very effective targeting and it’s very cost effective. For example: For 10 dollars a day for 10 days, can potentially reach 10,000 people within a particular segment within a 10-mile radius.

Online PPC (Pay-Per-Click) advertising presents significant opportunities and should be a key component of your restaurant’s marketing mix.

10. Local Deals Marketing

Groupon and Living Social is a great way to go, offering special deals to people in your local area and getting more exposure for your business. Target segment for Groupon is young women and professionals.


Restaurants and pizzerias are very popular on these deals platforms. 

Including deals marketing in your restaurant marketing mix needs to be planned out well to accomplish the business objectives without diluting the brand image from deals discounting.

11. Community Marketing

Word of mouth marketing can be very effective for your business. Add community marketing to your restaurant marketing mix can yield some great results.

holiday marketing ideas

The marketing opportunities in your local community can be in the form of school fundraiser programs, church and sponsoring local sports teams. Participating in “Dine and Donate” programs where a certain percentage (10-20%) goes to the organization can be a great way to support local programs while getting the visibility.

Donate pizza at local events for free for people to sample your food is a low-cost yet effective in getting local visibility for your business.

The local chamber of commerce and local publications can get the attention of many people in your area and get them to come to your place of business. Many people actually look for nearby restaurants and pizzerias in local listings and publications. Make sure they find you.

Including community marketing in your restaurant marketing mix is a must as it positions your business as part of the community.

12. Online Marketplace Hubs

Using online marketplace hubs (GrubHub, Eat24, OpenTable, etc) can be a great opportunity to drive new traffic to your restaurant from these online hubs.

Typically, they have a commission for each incoming order and service charges. It is important to factor in those commission percentages in business financials to make sure it makes sense and provides a positive return on investment.

Including online marketing hubs in your restaurant marketing mix can be used to get additional visibility especially when your target market segment is on those platforms.

This is certainly not all the options, but I think you have a good grasp of all the possibilities by now… Other options include TV and Radio ads.

Creating An Ideal Restaurant Marketing Mix

With your marketing objectives established and budget allocated, the next step is to create an effective marketing mix for your restaurant by selecting relevant and effective marketing channels. Here’s how to proceed:

  1. Identify the Best Channels:
    • Based on your marketing objectives, determine the best online and offline channels that offer the highest chance of success.
  2. Evaluate ROI:
    • Assess which marketing channels provide the best return on investment (ROI). While some channels may be more expensive, they can be worthwhile if they generate more revenue than the cost incurred.
  3. Estimate Reach and Sales:
    • Although there are no guarantees, you can estimate the potential reach and resulting sales to guide your decision-making process. For instance, billboards might be costlier than direct mail but could elevate your business’s status and attract higher-spending customers. Conversely, direct mail may be more personal and help establish a direct relationship with customers. Depending on your objectives, you might choose one or both mediums.
  4. Assess Reach and Engagement:
    • Online advertising is crucial for customer reach and engagement. Identify which channels will maximize reach and engagement, ensuring people return to your business repeatedly.
  5. Measure Conversions:
    • Monitor how effectively your online advertising converts fans or followers into actual customers. Different channels may yield varying results based on your business and goals.
  6. Leverage Industry Data and Competitor Insights:
    • Use industry data and insights from your competitors to inform your strategy. Perform small-scale tests on selected channels before committing larger budgets and scaling your efforts.

By carefully selecting and testing marketing channels, you can create an ideal marketing mix that aligns with your goals and maximizes your restaurant’s growth potential.

subscribe to newsletter

Now your turn:

How is your restaurant marketing mix looking? Are there any other channels that you are using in your marketing mix? Let us know in the comments section below.

Common FAQs

What is a good marketing mix for a restaurant?

A good marketing mix has a clear understanding of the product or service the restaurant offers at a pricing that fits the needs of your target market segment. This leads to the most effect marketing strategy for a restaurant.
Read the guide on restaurant marketing mix

How do you create a marketing plan for a restaurant?

Get your main stakeholders that includes owners, partners, chef, managers and key employees to discuss goals and determine what you want your brand to be short-term and long-term. Perform a SWOT analysis and capture the outcomes in a restaurant marketing plan. It is effective to have a restaurant marketing expert facilitate the process.
Learn how to create a restaurant marketing plan in under 24 hours

How do you promote a restaurant?

The fist step is to build a marketing calendar. Then employ a multi-channel marketing strategy to maximize your business reach to your potential customers. Leverage the powerful NGAZE multi-channel marketing platform that comes with a 52-week marketing playbook for your restaurant.
Learn more about NGAZE marketing platform

How do you create an effective marketing mix?

To create an effective marketing mix, understand your target market segment, understand your customer demographics and identify your competitors. With this understanding, you can create an effective marketing mix for your business.
Read the guide on restaurant marketing mix

How can marketing mix increase sales for restaurant?

The marketing mix determines the way the restaurant does pricing, product items on the menu and marketing promotions to sell its product. The right mix can increase sales since it gets the target customer needs right in the right segment.
Read the guide on restaurant marketing mix

How to develop an ideal restaurant marketing mix?

Start with a SWOT analysis to understand your current business situation. Set your marketing goals for your restaurant and create a marketing budget. An ideal marketing mix helps achieve the marketing objectives such as profits, new and repeat sales, customer satisfaction and guest loyalty.
Read the guide on restaurant marketing mix

What is the first step in developing the restaurant marketing mix?

The first step in developing a marketing mix for your restaurant is performing a SWOT analysis, that includes identifying strengths (S), weakness (W), opportunities (O) and threats (T) to understand the market environment and the restaurant positioning currently. Using this information, you can develop the marketing mix for your restaurant.
Read the guide on restaurant marketing mix

How do you attract customers to your restaurant?

Identify the ideal customer of your restaurant, discover where the customer lives (physically and online), launch a marketing campaign to reach the target customer segment, engage with them and make relevant offers to attract them to your restaurant.
Learn more about NGAZE marketing platform

How do you create an effective restaurant marketing mix?

An effective restaurant marketing mix need to consider a multi-channel marketing approach to reach target customer segment, engage with them and provide relevant offers and promotions to attract them to your restaurant.
Learn more about multi-channel marketing campaigns

What is the purpose of marketing mix for a restaurant?

The primary purpose of a marketing mix for a restaurant is to realize the business goals, which is revenue growth, profits, customer satisfaction and guest loyalty. Other goals are to develop its brand and identity in the community.
Read the guide on restaurant marketing mix