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When You Open a Restaurant Do You Add a Line Item for Marketing or Do You “Build It and Hope They Will Come?”


How much did it cost you to open your restaurant? $50,000? $200,000? $1,000,000? Any amount is a lot of money and if you don’t have a marketing strategy or marketing as a line item, why not? Doesn’t that seem ludicrous to you? That you would spend so much money on a business, regardless if it’s your passion or you’ve had other successful restaurants, and NOT have a plan to market it.

What is marketing? Webster defines it as the process or technique of promoting, selling, and distributing a product or service. Clearly, marketing tactics are different today than they were twenty or thirty years ago. The majority of marketing is done on the internet or better known as digital marketing.

Does your marketing consist of Facebook and that’s it? Or better yet, did you choose not to spend the money on a website because you can use Facebook? Newsflash – not everybody is on Facebook and considering *63% of the people who search for a restaurant on their smartphone convert immediately or within the hour, what a great opportunity to get noticed! Do you really want to miss out on that revenue? We’re guessing probably not. You need an effective plan.

Creating a marketing plan doesn’t have to be painful and it certainly doesn’t have to be expensive. And, if done right you can increase your profits, which will help with retaining your employees and will certainly help with providing personalized customer service. Think it’s not possible? It’s not only possible it’s doable and you can be the one reaping those benefits.

Restaurant marketing doesn’t have to be an afterthought and actually it shouldn’t be.

Here are some tips for you if you don’t have a plan but want to start somewhere. It’s cheaper to sell to existing customers than it is to go out and get new ones. With that in mind here are a few ideas for you to get started on designing a marketing plan:

  • Create a solid social media presence. The key to this is consistency. Be consistent in how your profiles look across all platforms; same logo, cover photo, hours, address, etc. and post on a consistent basis.  Remember, social media is about entertaining, engaging and education, it’s not a constant sales pitch of what you sell.
  • Collect email addresses from your customers, on your website and your social sites. Offer them something in return for their email address. “Sign up for member only VIP access, 20% off your next visit, etc.” Sending out emails on a regular basis, like monthly, will keep you top of mind and as your list grows you can segment it to hyper target your customers for events they would be interested in like wine dinners or beer dinners.
  • Get on the video marketing bandwagon – Now! Create a YouTube channel and do Facebook Live (you actually have a YouTube account when you sign up for Google My Business). Video marketing is the fastest and most effective marketing tactic out on the web right now. Take 30 seconds, seriously, 30 seconds and record your chef making a dressing, your bartender a cocktail or your sommelier on how to open a bottle of wine. It doesn’t have to be involved it just has to be informative, funny, etc. You get the idea.
  • Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising is easier than you think and you should utilize this tactic. Sure, there is an expertise to executing a consistent, continually monitored advertising campaign but you don’t have to take that big of a bite just to get started. We did a Facebook campaign for $220 that returned $2,500 in three days. With a little reading on how to do a campaign, you can gain some big wins. Start with a small budget, it doesn’t have to be a monthly commitment, you can execute a campaign with a lifetime budget of $100. You will want to read some articles or watch some tutorials before you place your first ad to increase your success rate, but, spending an hour to learn how to do something that could potentially return hundreds if not thousands of dollars is probably a good use of your time.
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO) This is a big one! You can’t get visitors to your restaurant if they can’t find you on the internet. The first three marketing tactics you can do, it takes time, but you can do those. SEO (and PPC) are a little different in the sense that there is expertise and A LOT of time that goes into executing an effective strategy.  Having said that there are some things you can do or have your website person do to help. First and foremost, make sure your website is registered with the search engines, otherwise, they won’t know to “crawl” your site and list you in search queries, identify your meta tags and title your photos, e.g. fried-chicken (note the hyphen, Google doesn’t like the _) If you want to know what good SEO practices are check out this guide by Google. There’s so much to say on this topic but the two other things you should know is you should have Google Analytics on your site and register with Google Webmaster Tools (GWT) – this is the only way Google will communicate with you and if you are doing something Google doesn’t like they are going to tell you before they penalize you, but only through GWT. (You DON’T want to get penalized, basically, you don’t show up in any search until they remove the penalty and it takes awhile to get the penalty removed.)

Look, it boils down to this, you know how to run restaurants, we know how to do digital marketing and we’ll be happy to talk with you about how we can help you in a way that fits your budget and your goals. Or, if you have questions, just call or email us, there is no charge just to talk to us.

Don’t you want to stop spending all of your time training new employees and stop taking Xanax because your profits fell short, again?


*Statistic by