Having a restaurant marketing plan is essential for starting up a successful restaurant. If you are developing a marketing strategy for your restaurant, you are probably looking for samples, templates and examples of marketing programs. It is best to plan your restaurant’s marketing and sales strategy based on specific marketing proposals, aimed at making your business profitable and effective at attracting customers. Setting your restaurant’s marketing and sales goals clearly at the start will definitely make the process much easier for you. The marketing plan of your restaurant should take into account, above all, the local conditions of its location, and some research of the local market is required for a marketing strategy to be adequate to the challenges specific to your restaurant’s situation.

Here, we will provide examples of marketing plans, programs and sales strategies, offering proposals, samples and templates for all kinds of restaurants, whether you run a local or startup restaurant, or a bar. These marketing plans and strategies are offered as services by several platforms. They can help you identify your restaurant’s marketing goals and really make your brand visible and attractive within your local community and beyond. We will list some leaders in the industry in this article.

Examples of marketing strategies and proposals for restaurants will be discussed, along with specific steps in the process of implementing a marketing plan, strategy or program. Many of them are suitable for any type of restaurant, whether it be a startup or a bar.

You Can Get the Marketing Plan Sample or Template You Need Online

There are numerous services and online platforms that help restaurant owners to develop marketing plans and sales strategies for their businesses. These are typically paid services, but there are some that offer free samples or templates of marketing plans for restaurants. In fact, even the paid services provide free marketing plan samples, which can be downloaded in pdf format and then filled out by the restaurant owner. The strength of the paid services is that they also provide other features like competitor analysis, POS solutions, and more. An example of a platform that provides marketing plan samples and templates as well as other services for managing marketing and sales strategies is TouchBistro. According to the TouchBistro website, “TouchBistro is an iPad POS and integrated payments solution built for restaurant people, by restaurant people.”

In addition to paid services, there are also numerous blogs with excellent tips and ideas for marketing plans. Choosing the right marketing plan or sales strategy can help your restaurant to make its brand known throughout your target audience, so everyone knows what your restaurant represents. Blogs on restaurant marketing also indicate how to effectively target the groups most likely to boost your sales and how to retarget them when you need it.

Further on, we’ll get to the specifics of what makes a good marketing plan. It’s not enough to just think of a wild and creative marketing idea (although it certainly helps). There is a degree of calculation and number-running required for a marketing plan or sales strategy to be an effective booster for your restaurant.

Writing a Restaurant Marketing Plan in 4 Steps

First of all, you should already have a business plan for your restaurant, and in that business plan, you should have addressed potential marketing and sales strategies that you can use. Your marketing plan is where you will expound on the framework given in your business plan. The most important thing about your marketing plan is its implementation in a way that will bring your restaurant the greatest profits.

Step 1 – Establish your brand

You should have a good idea of what your brand is and how you want it to be perceived among both your customers and competitors. You should also ask yourself: what value does my brand offer customers, what does your restaurant hope to create in the future, how does your restaurant stand out from the competition? In the context of a marketing plan or sales strategy, you should also set specific goals for your restaurant, so that you know precisely which direction you’re going in. Once you set your goals clearly and concisely, the only thing left to do is figure out how to achieve them, so identifying and framing goals is half the battle.

Step 2 – Identify your target audience

At the stage of developing a marketing plan, you should already have a good idea of who your customers will be. Any marketing or sales strategy should address one or more segments of your target market. Doing so will help you to identify your customers’ preferences, what events they enjoy, and their ordering habits. “Know your customer” is a basic tenet of business, and it applies to restaurants, perhaps not more than to other businesses, but rather in ways specific only to restaurants.

Step 3 – SWOT and “4 P’s” analysis

SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. It is one of the best-known methods of evaluating the viability of any business. You should run a SWOT analysis on both your own restaurant business and your competitors to glean the most knowledge and identify the best marketing strategies.

Strengths and weakness, the S and W in SWOT, are internal to a company, whereas opportunities and threats, the O and T, are external to it. Doing a SWOT analysis on your competitors involves identifying all 4 of these factors with respect to their operation. So when it comes to strengths, figuring out what your competitors do right can help you to do it better. Identifying a competitor’s weaknesses can help you compete with them better. Opportunities involve asking yourself how you can exploit competitors’ weaknesses, and finally, threats address whether your competitors can offer value that you cannot. Threats can be countered with your restaurant’s own strengths and opportunities in the marketplace.

Meanwhile, “4 P’s” analysis refers to the 4 P’s of Price, Product, Promotion and Place. Such analysis will help you to identify key strategic elements of your brand through the lens of these 4 P’s. The 4 P’s also help you to refine your restaurant’s marketing techniques to reflect the operating conditions specific to it.

Step 4 – Implementation and Evaluation of Your Marketing Plan

First, put your ideas, goals and strategies into writing. Every action you take as part of your marketing plan for your restaurant should be assigned a specific timeframe and budget. Every aspect of a given measure you are taking to boost sales should be addressed, and the general procedure of achieving the given goal should be mapped out. The more specific you are, the better. When it comes to implementing your marketing plan or sales strategy, a specific plan of action can really help you and your staff to make the right decisions. Evaluating your marketing plan is also very important, because it allows you to determine how and to what extent you are fulfilling your objectives. Take a clear look at your business and identify where your plan has succeeded and where it has failed. The more honest you are with yourself here, the better.

Basic Marketing Strategies for Restaurants

Generally speaking, most marketing strategies for restaurants are digital nowadays. Of course, you should also consider non-digital (real-world) strategies like special events and physical promotional campaigns, but let’s face it, nothing gives you the kind of reach and attention like the Internet does.

Social media, in particular, is absolutely crucial to a restaurant’s success. The better you can engage your audience, the more they will keep your business in mind next time they go out to get a bite to eat. Also, posting up-to-date content and news lets your restaurant stay active in a very competitive marketing environment.

Perhaps the most basic marketing strategy for any restaurant is having a website and doing SEO. It is almost unimaginable for any business to not have a website nowadays. When designing your website, make sure it is modern, conforms to current standards, and is easy to use for your customers. It should have a clear layout and should facilitate interaction between your restaurant and your customers. SEO stands for search engine optimization. Doing SEO for your website helps it to take the top spots in search results, because everyone knows that people rarely go to the second page of search results to find what they are looking for online. If you’re in the top 10 search results, good, but if you’re in the top 3, you are an indisputable SEO leader, and this will be reflected in your sales. SEO is done by sprinkling specific key words and phrases throughout the content of your website. The more these keywords match common search queries, the better your website’s position in search results will be. SEO will vary according to search engine, and most businesses optimize their websites and content for Google.

Generating content is also important for a restaurant. Some restaurant owners are baffled at how a restaurant can produce good content for its target audience. To start with, content can be created in the form of videos, blog posts and images. Why don’t you try taking cool pictures of your dishes or specials? Even a restaurant’s menu can serve to generate content, especially if you offer unique weekly or daily specials. You can also create a blog to share useful information with your target audience while promoting your brand. Hosting your blog on your restaurant’s website also helps with SEO, so that’s definitely something to consider.

As mentioned earlier, social media is the lynchpin of all marketing plans and sales strategies. There are dozens of social media platforms out there, but the big three: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, are the most important. Instagram in particular is very suitable for restaurants, as it lends itself to photos of food. Facebook is great for generating engagement among your customers, as you can get them to comment and engage with your business on what is currently the largest social media platform in the world. The sheer exposition to your target audience that you gain through Facebook is invaluable. Finally, there’s Twitter. Twitter lets you post short snippets of text, which can be accompanied by a photo or video. Your Twitter content should be concise and tight, but above all, engaging. All in all, social media is great for engaging your local community and is probably the strongest tool for building brand recognition available today.

Another common strategy is e-mail marketing. Many restaurants send promotional e-mails or newsletters to their customers. Promotional e-mails can attract an audience that is already engaged with your brand to make a purchase at your place of business. Meanwhile, newsletters encourage fans of your establishment to visit and try whatever new thing it is you are offering. There are many tools out there for e-mail marketing, choose the one that’s right for you, but make sure it measures the success of the e-mail marketing campaign. The hard part is getting a database full of customers’ e-mails, which they must provide voluntarily while granting the proper consent. You can do this by offering all sorts of promotions for those who provide their e-mail address. Many companies have very aggressive e-mail address collection schemes, typically involving giveaways or promotions right on the profit threshold. These companies do this because they know they will give away something once, but every customer who takes advantage may come back multiple times and pay full price in the future. It is a sound business strategy.

Review sites are another tool that restaurants have to promote their brand and boost both sales and recognition. When engaging with review sites, specifically, individual reviews on these sites, remember to respond to both positive and negative reviews. When doing so, just remember: it’s not personal, it’s business. Also, beware of trolls – you are running a business, they just want to watch the world burn. Engage them as you would any other reviewer, then back off and do not feed.

This set of marketing strategies for restaurants is far from exhaustive. There are many other marketing plans and strategies that you could use to gain an edge over your competition. Remember to be creative, because it is the creativity of your solutions that attracts customers – that and the quality of your food and dining experience. Don’t be afraid to experiment, but also don’t be afraid of tried and tested solutions. If they work for the big players, chances are, they’ll work for you if managed properly. Hopefully, this article has given you some insight into marketing plans and strategies for restaurants, and now the application of this knowledge in practice is up to you.

Launch an online food ordering system
on the restaurant website