How to do Restaurant Marketing: tips and strategies

What does marketing do in a restaurant? Marketing nowadays is a fundamental requirement. Given the growing competition, it is no longer enough to be a good restaurateur, but it is important to know how to communicate what distinguishes your business, trying to do it both offline and online, and structuring a digital strategy in line with your business.

If you want to deepen your knowledge and learn effective online marketing strategies specifically tailored to your restaurant, consider enrolling in a comprehensive web marketing course. It will help you understand how to effectively communicate what sets your business apart and create a successful digital strategy aligned with your restaurant’s goals.

In this article, we will cover the following topics:

  • catering and industry trends;
  • example marketing plan of a restaurant;
  • ideas for relaunching a restaurant and attracting customers online;
  • how to promote your restaurant business.

Why Restaurant Marketing is Useful

Catering is growing, as demonstrated by the positive sign in front of the number of meals away from home, which is the reason for the importance of Restaurant Marketing. However. despite the data, operators in the sector are having difficulty embracing and understanding the digital transformation, while the user is on the crest of the wave of change, and catering risks remain anchored to traditional methods.

The restaurateur is an entrepreneur to all intents and purposes, and as such, he should grasp the innovations of the market and apply them to his reference sector, avoiding remaining a step behind. The fact that the restaurant business is constantly growing does not mean that the restaurant operator can turn a blind eye, looking at Marketing with detachment. Knowing how to do restaurant marketing is crucial for attracting customers and driving business growth.

Just look around to understand that today everyone is constantly connected, there are more connected devices than inhabitants on the planet: this is just one of the reasons why a digital strategy must be included in the development of a marketing plan in catering.

How to do Restaurant Marketing

After understanding the reasons, let’s see how an ad hoc strategy can be structured for your restaurant. Let’s start with the meaning of the word Marketing: it originates from the Anglo-Saxon verb to market and indicates that set of activities aimed at marketing the products and/or services of a specific company. Restaurant marketing involves a combination of online and offline strategies to promote your establishment.

To ensure that these products and services are marketed, a strategy is developed which is based on McCarthy’s 4Ps, which gave rise to the concept of Marketing Mix:

  1. Product (features and image of the product);
  2. Price (selling price);
  3. Place (channels through which this product or service is distributed);
  4. Promotion (promotional and advertising activities).

The restaurateur, the chef, the manager, and the figures in the sector should pay the correct attention to all of McCarthy’s 4Ps, avoiding dedicating themselves, especially to some, only in this way will the right Marketing Mix be obtained. When it comes to Restaurant Marketing services, the first 3 Ps are almost naturally defined, but often the right attention is not paid to the fourth of Promotion, the one that allows you to put together those activities aimed at promoting the sale of a service or a product, it must be understood as a promotion tout court, which uses both offline and online channels.

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A Marketing Plan for Your Restaurant

The restaurant industry is particular, but just like any other business, it needs a plan to market its products and services. Here are some suggestions for developing a restaurant marketing plan.

What’s your goal?

The first of the objectives in restaurant marketing in most cases is the increase in turnover. Let’s see how to achieve this goal:

  • offer special treatment to those who are in a hurry to book their table. The reservation allows the restaurateur to
  • calculate stocks in more detail, reducing waste;
  • promote the time slots with lower attendance (you could consider applying a 30% discount to those who book between 18:00 and 19:45, usually the least popular times);

If you work well with business lunches because you are in an office area or an industrial area, consider working during dinner hours with takeaway. It could be a solution for all those who have to go to the gym after office hours and don’t have time to stop shopping, so they could reserve take away for dinner even during lunch.

Observe market trends

Monitor and analyze your target market in a super parties way :

  • first of all, consider the new culinary trends, keep their importance in mind, and include them in your proposals. As essential as it is to maintain one’s authenticity, variety within one’s menu is fundamental, for this reason vegan, raw food, vegetarian trends, etc. must be considered;
  • the customer, just like the online user is constantly looking for information, and the restaurateur and the dining room staff can no longer be caught unprepared for the proposals on their menu;
  • online presence is no longer a trend but a necessity, with an increasingly connected user, the restaurateur must offer the possibility of booking online and consulting the menu on the net.

One of the most effective methodologies in developing a marketing strategy for restaurant marketing is certainly the SWOT analysis, which is important for understanding the trends of the reference market and for fine-tuning the strategic choices concerning the company.

restaurant marketing plan

The Strengths are factors internal to the company and in the case of a restaurant they can be:

  • the use of excellent raw materials such as km 0 products;
  • qualified personnel (a sommelier among the dining room staff is always well appreciated);
  • strategic position (central area with adjacent parking);
  • active social channels (Facebook ads, Instagram stories, etc.).

Weaknesses: these are also internal elements of the company, it could be an inconsistency between in-store and online communication, an unclear menu with incomprehensible names of dishes (a common element that makes it difficult to sell some products despite their excellent quality).

Opportunity: the positives that derive from factors external to the company and which allow an increase in turnover. One of the greatest opportunities that can come from outside today is certainly given by digital. Those who are investing correctly in these channels are experiencing the conversion they deserve.

Threats: Threats originating from the outside, which hurt your work. Trendy venues and new formats (sushi, vegetarian restaurant).

Analyze the competition

Do a careful analysis of the competition, focus on your main competitors, visit their clubs, and analyze their verbal and non-verbal communication. Read their menu carefully and then get advice from the staff, try to understand the positive and negative traits of that activity, only in this way will you be able to understand what you can improve, change, add, or remove from your restaurant. It is essential to question yourself repeatedly to excel in your craft.

Who is your ideal customer?

Define your target audience. For a restaurant or a restaurant chain, just like for any other company, it is essential to understand the potential customer for that particular service. Once you understand the reference target (students, families, singles) you can put the right strategy into practice (there are digital strategy tools, such as Facebook ads that allow you to work on your target) and more easily reach your goals set.

Digital Marketing in the Catering

Digital Marketing includes the set of activities that a company implements using digital channels. Let’s see some of the tools that could be included in a restaurant’s Digital Marketing Plan:

  • Digital Online Advertising, digital advertising is constantly evolving, every day companies increase their visibility and turnover thanks to the various forms of Digital Advertising such as Ads, Facebook and Instagram Ads, which could be good solutions to advertise a restaurant or a restaurant chain, as they allow you to create sponsored ads based on targeting their potential customer.
  • SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is an activity useful for improving the positioning of a website within search engines (first of all Google). When you search Google with a specific query (example: ”Milan catering”) among the results of the SERP, after the sponsored ones, we will have the organic ones, i.e. those that have positioned themselves thanks to a careful optimization of their online resources.
  • E-mail marketing, and sending direct emails can certainly facilitate customer loyalty. It may be enough to send a thank you email to the customer once they leave the restaurant and they will continue to feel pampered during the meal. Furthermore, the sending of e-mails for commercial purposes (newsletters and promotions) should be evaluated according to one’s own needs.

Ideas to relaunch an online restaurant

One of the best ways to reposition your business and attract customers is certainly to use an online channel. A job that will be quite simple if the marketing topic for catering has not been underestimated and if the right attention has been paid to the marketing plan we talked about previously. Digital is essential today, it not only allows you to relaunch your restaurant and keep up with the times but also allows you to attract new customers and increase your restaurant’s turnover even with a Food styling & photography course for Instagram.

ideas to attract new customers in your restaurant

Make the company’s character known online, coherently tell its authenticity and you will be able to position yourself excellently (see the case of Puok Burger). Make sure to create Instagram and Facebook profiles, go further, maximize the activities you can do through these channels, make your restaurant’s character known and make customers want to visit you.

How to attract new customers from the web

Animate your restaurant, don’t be shy in telling your story, your dishes, and your peculiarities, let the user know you, and create your identity in-store and online. Guide and pamper the user just like you do with the customer when he comes to visit you at the restaurant. The tools to proceed with these activities are numerous and free: what’s better than Instagram Stories to tell about yourself? Do not build the IG contact network at random, prefer contacts in your area and potential customers, follow food bloggers and get people talking about your business by establishing partnerships. Publish posts with professional photos of your dishes and make your potential customer’s mouth water.

Download the Free Guide and learn the secrets to being able to retain your customers and increase your turnover

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The ”new” Restaurateur

We all know the iconic image of the typical restaurateur, a busy, empathetic, sociable, and perfectionist entrepreneur. He wants everything to go smoothly inside the club and nothing is left to chance. The central point is that today it is no longer sufficient to limit oneself to the progress of work within the walls of one’s premises and even less to offline communication to promote one’s business. It is necessary to focus beyond one’s gaze and increase one’s skills in line with the new opportunities offered by the market.

How can the traditional restaurateur approach digital? The entrepreneur who is investing online for the first time in collaboration with external actors, and experts in the sector, can draw up a marketing strategy suitable for his business. Using the guidelines dictated by the experts on the subject, he will be able to learn, acquire greater awareness and move independently. Today, in catering, the synergy between traditional and digital marketing is essential.

If a restaurateur wants to understand how to promote a restaurant online, he must study the peculiarities of the marketing tools he will use. And to make that happen he will have to use them. A typical example is given by Instagram. If not used frequently through stories and publication of posts, that profile will hardly be appreciated by the customer who surfs the internet.

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