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Restaurant Marketing Budget: How To Create [Template]


You need a restaurant marketing budget to understand how to spend your money and maximize returns.

In this article, we’re going to provide you with an example restaurant marketing template and do our best to help you understand how to prepare your perfect restaurant budget. We’re going to explore:

  • Why marketing is an important investment for all restaurant owners
  • What to focus on when setting budget goals
  • Why you might need a restaurant SWOT analysis
  • How to better reach your customers
  • Ways of monitoring and adjusting your restaurant marketing budget

Let’s get started.

Understanding Marketing as an Investment

restaurant marketing budget: how much to invest in restaurant marketing

Restaurant marketing is an investment that most restaurant businesses invest in sooner or later. Like any other investment, it might go well or not. Unlike many risky investments, the results of your marketing campaigns are largely up to you and your understanding of your business.

Let’s review some of the main reasons why restaurant marketing is a solid investment for your restaurant business.

Restaurant marketing can help you:
  • Increase visibility and awareness among potential customers, boosting the restaurant’s overall brand recognition.
  • Improve customer engagement and loyalty through targeted promotions and personalized communication.
  • Drive higher foot traffic and sales by effectively showcasing the restaurant’s offerings and unique features.
  • Enable data collection and customer insights, leading to more informed business decisions and strategy adjustments.
  • Give you a competitive advantage by differentiating your restaurant in a crowded market.

As a restaurant owner, you should remember that it’s largely up to you what returns you get from this investment. Allocating funds effectively between different marketing channels and choosing matching marketing strategies is in your control. 

Setting SMART Restaurant Marketing Goals

restaurant marketing budget: restaurant marketing goals

To set the right goals, you’re going to need to pinpoint what exactly you’re looking to achieve. Let’s go over the steps that will help you set the right goals for your purpose using a SMART method.

SMART goals are a framework for setting clear and achievable objectives. The acronym stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. This means each goal should be well-defined, quantifiable, realistically attainable, aligned with broader objectives, and have a specific deadline. 

An example of a SMART goal for a restaurant could be: “Increase lunchtime sales by 20% over the next three months by introducing a new express lunch menu and promoting it through social media and local business partnerships.”

This goal is:

  • Specific: It targets lunchtime sales with a new express menu.
  • Measurable: Aims for a 20% increase in sales.
  • Achievable: Assumes a reasonable target that can be reached with the new menu and promotions.
  • Relevant: Aligns with the broader objective of boosting sales.
  • Time-bound: Set to be achieved within the next three months.

Define clear objectives

Start by clearly defining what you want to achieve with your marketing efforts. This could range from increasing brand awareness and attracting new customers to boosting sales during off-peak hours. 

Align goals with marketing campaigns

Tailor your marketing campaigns to meet these objectives. For instance, if the goal is to attract new customers, focus on campaigns that promote customer loyalty, such as special discounts and offers for returning customers. This is best done through a dedicated restaurant loyalty program.

Loyalty Program
Create a Loyalty Program for Your Restaurant
Boost customer loyalty and transform one-time restaurant guests into regulars with an easy-to-implement loyalty program

Track and measure performance

Use metrics like increased footfall, higher reservation rates, higher social media engagement, and better customer retention to gauge effectiveness.

Budget allocation

Determine how much you’re willing to spend on various marketing channels and ensure that the allocation resonates with your goals. For example, a larger budget might be assigned to digital advertising if the aim is to reach a broader online audience.

Adapt and update goals regularly

The restaurant industry is dynamic, so reviewing and adjusting your marketing goals regularly is important. Stay attuned to changes in customer preferences and market trends, and modify your strategies accordingly.

Make it yours

Keep in mind that there is no single perfect budget. Restaurant marketing budgets will vary widely from one restaurant to the next. Your aim should not be to copy others but to understand what will be best for your purpose.

  • To make your efforts worthwhile, consider carefully revisiting your restaurant marketing plan. That way, you can get a better understanding of your competitors, customers, and budgeting in general.

Conducting a SWOT Analysis

restaurant marketing budget: SWOT analysis

A SWOT analysis is a strategic planning tool used to evaluate the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats involved in a project or business venture. It provides a clear framework to assess internal and external factors that can impact the success or failure of a strategy, project, or business.

Keep this in mind when conducting a SWOT analysis:
  • Identify strengths: Look for what sets your business apart. For example, your restaurant has an exceptional chef and customer service. Your loyal customers, who keep returning due to the quality of food and service, are also a significant strength.
  • Understand weaknesses: Identify areas for improvement. This could be something like a part of your marketing strategy that’s draining resources without adequate returns. Maybe your food ordering system isn’t user-friendly, resulting in lost sales, or perhaps there’s a gap in staff training impacting service quality.
  • Explore opportunities: Seek out external factors you can capitalize on. For instance, there might be a growing trend in healthy eating that you can incorporate into your menu to drive traffic. Another opportunity could be leveraging local events or holidays to create special promotions or themed menus.
  • Assess threats: Recognize external challenges that could impact your business. This might include new competitors entering the market, offering similar dining experiences at lower prices, or changes in customer preferences that could reduce the demand for your current menu offerings.

By carefully analyzing these areas with specific examples relevant to your business, you can gain valuable insights and create a more robust and informed restaurant business plan for your growth and sustainability.

Analyzing Your Target Audience

restaurant marketing budget: restaurant target audience

This is pretty straightforward–you want to spend your marketing budget well and to do this, you need to understand who you’re selling to. Is your restaurant a hip veggie place or a classy boomer’s nest? Once you know who your customers are, you’re golden. Below are a few tips for figuring out who your target audience is.

Tips to identify your customers:
  • Identify your target market: Clearly defining who your customers are helps in effectively allocating your budget, ensuring you’re targeting the right audience. For example, if your target market is young professionals, you might allocate more budget to digital marketing on platforms they frequent.
  • Understand their needs and preferences: If your customers prefer premium dining experiences, you can budget more for high-quality ingredients and upscale decor.
  • Analyze consumer behavior: Understanding when and how your target customers consume your product or service aids in budgeting for peak times. This might mean allocating more budget to evening promotions if that’s when your target market dines out most.
  • Conduct market research: Investing in market research can prevent ineffective spending, guiding budget allocation for marketing campaigns that resonate with your target audience. Staying informed about market trends ensures that your budgeting is proactive and adaptive
  • Evaluate your competitors: Understanding your competition helps in wise budgeting. Go to their websites, social media channels, subscribe to their newsletters and loyalty programs. Understand what they’re doing right and what you can do better.

By thoroughly analyzing your target market using these steps, you can develop a more effective approach to meet their needs and preferences, ultimately leading to better customer engagement and business success.

Choosing Marketing Channels and Tactics

restaurant marketing budget: restaurant social media channels

When budgeting for restaurant marketing, it’s crucial to choose channels that align with your financial resources and marketing goals. Let’s go over some of the most popular restaurant marketing channels.

Key restaurant social media channels:
  • Social media marketing: Cost-effective for ongoing engagement and brand building. Ideal for budget-conscious strategies, platforms like Instagram and Facebook allow targeted advertising with controlled spending. Focus here if you’re aiming for high engagement with a limited budget.
  • Restaurant email marketing: Great for low-cost direct communication with existing customers. Use it for periodic campaigns, especially to announce promotions, events, or new menu items. It’s effective for keeping your restaurant in the minds of customers who have already shown interest.
  • Google My Business and SEO: Optimizing for search engines can help attract local traffic without heavy spending. Keep your online listings updated, especially during peak seasons. Allocate part of your budget to restaurant SEO for sustained local visibility, a vital move for restaurants relying on walk-in customers.
  • Online review platforms: Important for reputation management with minimal direct costs. Regularly monitor and respond to reviews on platforms like Yelp and TripAdvisor. 
  • Influencer collaborations: Useful for targeted reach and generating buzz. Work with food bloggers or influencers when launching new menu items or tapping into specific demographics. 
  • Loyalty programs and mobile apps: Invest here for customer retention. While initial setup can be costly, the long-term benefits of customer loyalty can outweigh the costs. Focus on this if you’re seeking to increase repeat business and have the budget for initial development.
By carefully choosing marketing channels based on their cost-effectiveness and suitability for your restaurant’s target audience, you can optimize your marketing budget for the best returns on your investment.
Loyalty Program
Create a Loyalty Program for Your Restaurant
Boost customer loyalty and transform one-time restaurant guests into regulars with an easy-to-implement loyalty program

Example Restaurant Marketing Budget Template

restaurant marketing budget: how much to spend on marketing activities

Let’s do a restaurant marketing budget breakdown incorporating SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) goals into the marketing plan for a restaurant with an annual revenue of $250,000 and a 5% marketing budget ($12,500).

Revenue and Budget

This step is as simple as writing down your annual revenue and how much you’re willing to spend on marketing that year. 

Annual Revenue: $250,000

Marketing Budget (5% of revenue): $12,500

Make sure your data is on point by checking all your sales statistics in your food ordering system.

Marketing Goals (SMART Framework)

As discussed earlier, we’re going to use the SMART framework to pinpoint our marketing goals and set the budget. This could look like this:

  • Increase social media following by 25% over the next 12 months.
  • Boost website traffic by 15% within 6 months through SEO and Google Ads.
  • Grow email subscriber list by 20% in 9 months and maintain an open rate of over 25%.
  • Increase repeat customer visits by 10% over the next year through a loyalty program.
Marketing Budget Breakdown with SMART Goals:
  • Social media advertising (35%): $4,375
    • Target: Increase engagement and followers on platforms like Facebook and Instagram.
    • Measurable goal: 25% increase in followers and engagement over 12 months.
  • Search engine optimization marketing (20%): $2,500
    • Target: Improve online visibility and website traffic.
    • Measurable goal: 15% increase in website traffic within 6 months.
  • Email marketing (10%): $1,250
    • Target: Expand restaurant email marketing reach and engagement.
    • Measurable goal: 20% increase in subscriber list and maintain a 25% open rate in 9 months.
  • Local advertising (10%): $1,250
    • Target: Enhance local brand presence and attract new customers.
    • Measurable goal: Track response rates and new customer visits through local ad campaigns.
  • Loyalty programs (10%): $1,250
    • Target: Increase repeat visits and customer loyalty through a restaurant loyalty program.
    • Measurable goal: 10% increase in repeat customer visits over 12 months.
  • Website maintenance (10%): $1,250
    • Target: Ensure a user-friendly, updated online presence through a restaurant website.
    • Measurable goal: Maintain website uptime of 99% and track user feedback for improvements.
  • Special promotions (5%): $625
    • Target: Create buzz and increase short-term sales.
    • Measurable goal: Achieve a 20% sales increase during promotional events.

Key Takeaways

  • Marketing is an investment; whether it works well or not largely depends on your decisions.
  • SMART goals force you to make complete, specific goals. 
  • Don’t copy other restaurants. Learn from them and make your restaurant marketing budget unique.
  • Conducting a SWOT analysis will help you understand your business better. This will lead to better budget decisions.
  • Analyze your target audience and choose matching marketing strategies and channels.
  • Consult your restaurant marketing plan to ensure your marketing budget aligns with it.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

The amount a restaurant spends on advertising can vary widely, but typically, a restaurant’s marketing budget is around 3% to 6% of its total revenue, depending on factors like location, size, and target market. This budget covers a range of marketing activities, including digital advertising, social media campaigns, email marketing, local promotions, and loyalty programs. The exact amount and distribution of funds across these activities depend on the restaurant’s specific marketing strategy and goals, as well as its customer base and competitive landscape.

The average restaurant marketing budget, where restaurant marketing dollars are allocated, typically falls between 3% to 6% of total sales. This budget covers various marketing costs including paid advertising, such as social media and search engine ads, as well as expenditures on various marketing tools like email marketing platforms, loyalty program software, and website maintenance. The exact percentage can vary depending on the restaurant’s size, location, and target market, with different types of establishments allocating their marketing dollars differently based on their specific needs and customer base.

Picture of Emil Gawkowski

Emil Gawkowski

Creative digital writer and marketer. A caffeine-fueled madman who loves to make things better.

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