Do restaurant owners and managers need a Restaurant Marketing Plan?
The answer is, ABSOLUTELY. Without a marketing plan you are just investing money blindly hoping for the best and trying to get lucky.
Would you build a house without first having a blueprint? Probably not a good idea since you could end up spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to get, at best, a questionable house.
However, many restaurateurs spend thousands of dollars in marketing (placing ads in weekly papers and magazines, printing and mailing coupons, accepting programs like Passport, etc.) without having, or even ever considering a marketing plan.
A restaurant marketing plan is a blueprint of your marketing strategy. It tells you where and how to spend your marketing dollars so that you can maximize your investment and get the results that you want. In other words, it is your plan for a successful restaurant.
Restaurateurs are busy people. There are so many things that they need to take care of on a daily bases (inventory, appliances, staff, schedules, finances, cleaning, maintaining, etc.) that they can always find excuses for no sitting down and do some upfront planning that it could save them thousands of dollars in marketing investments and additional thousands in increased revenues and sales.
If you don’t have a restaurant marketing plan, you will be pray of the persistent sales people who will come to your restaurant (because they will come, count on it) trying to persuade you to place ads in their yellow pages, their billboards, their newspapers (that, they will tell you reaches thousands of readers, like if this was any measure of your success advertising there!), etc.
Think for a moment how do you want to position your restaurant. Do you have something obviously special that you offer to your clients? (this is called a Unique Selling Proposition or USP). If so, you should use this USP in your advertising, if not, you should come up with one.
All restaurants are different from each other and all have something unique about them that their regulars clients like. If you don’t now what’s special about your place, ask your regular clients. Approach them after a good meal and ask them what’s that they like about your place that they come again and again. Is it your great food? or your excellent service? Is it perhaps your location or your ambience? There are many variables and your job, as owner/manager is to identify what makes your place special and different from other places.
Once you have your USP, use it in all your marketing materials.
Then think about your clients. What’s your average client? If you are a medium/upper scale restaurant, they are probably professionals or retired people with money, perhaps couples with no kids, etc. If you are a family restaurant, your clients are families with kids, etc.
This is very important when you create your marketing campaigns. For example, why should you advertise in a weekly newspaper mainly aimed to youth if most of your customers are middle age couples with higher income? You would be wasting your marketing dollars. Or the opposite: If you have a family restaurant, should you send coupons in an area where most of the population are retired senior people? I don’t think that this is a great idea.
You see where I am going? Before you spend ANY dollars in your marketing, try to think about your place:what’s unique with it?, and about your clients: what kind of clients do you have and what kind of clients do you want? this will set up the tone and channels for all your marketing.
Think always strategically. Know what your plan is and where do you want to take your business before you spend your hard earned dollars in marketing that doesn’t work for you.
Jose L Riesco
© Riesco Consulting Inc.