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Creating a Restaurant Marketing Plan in 4 Steps

marketing Sep 12, 2017

Are you marketing your restaurant as much as you should be? You might be doing some marketing on social media channels, however, if you are like the majority of restaurants out there it is far from effective. Why? You don't have a solid marketing plan. You are just dabbling with marketing. Time to jump all in.

Why Don't You Market More

You probably have a very long list of reasons why you just cannot market more. These list of reasons have become chains that hold you down and stuck in the middle of the market where all the other restaurants that don't market enough are. The middle is that placed saved for being average. The last thing you want to be is average is the restaurant industry. That is like being trapped in a room with very hungry animals and you are the food supply. Being average and in the middle makes you a commodity.

Commodities are traded by price comparison. So, if you don't stand out to your guests, you just blend in. If you want to see the effect of just being like others take a look at Chili's, Applebee's, and those other large causal chains that are fighting each other for market share. Many have started to close locations to get lean for the battle. That is just the slow death of the casual segment.

What are some of those reasons you cling to? How about some of these and see if they look like old friends:

- You don't have time, because I am running a restaurant.

- You rely on word of mouth

- It's expensive.

These lame reasons are nothing more than excuses you tell yourself and others why you are failing at marketing effectively. Failing? Yes, you are failing at marketing. Having excuses why you can't is the reason you are failing.

Let's bust open each one of these excuses:

You Don't Have Time Because You Are Running a Restaurant

Yes, you are running a restaurant...right into the ground by not taking marketing seriously. Oh, and that excuse about time? You never own or have time, you make time for the things that are important. Stop wasting so much time on things that have a small impact on your restaurant like the 30 minutes you spend each day talking about Game of Thrones (or whatever trivial topic) with the chef. If you took an honest look at where your time goes during the week, you might be amazed (and a little shocked) where you spend it.

You Rely On Word of Mouth

Positive testimonials from guests are like little gold nuggets. Unless, you own a gold mine under your restaurant, it's hard to live on them. Word of mouth is great, however, the internet turned that into "world of mouth". With a single click your positive testimonial is now seen around the globe.

It's Expensive

What does it cost to start a Facebook page for your restaurant? Zero. How about a Twitter or an Instagram account? Zero. Getting started is not expensive at all. If you want to boost your posts to hot more people in your market (geo targeting), social media is more cost effective than that billboard or print ads could ever be.

Now that we've busted a few of the excuses you have for not marketing more, let's discuss how you can make a marketing plan that gets you started in just 4 steps!

Step One: Get On More Social Media

You probably have Facebook for your restaurant. How about Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn? Even if you don't like those other platforms (yes this might be heartbreaking however it's not about you), your guests are out there using those other social media channels beyond Facebook. There are actually around 212 social media network sites on the internet, so picking up a few extra is not an extreme request.

If you do any business catering or host private events at your restaurant than you must tap into the power of LinkedIn. There are hungry businesses there looking ways to appreciate their team with lunch or take out prospects for dinner deals. You just have to make your presence known and market to them.

When you first start up on a new social media platform it can be disappointing to not get many followers. Rome wasn't built in a day and neither is a solid social media fan base. Have patience and make sure to tell your followers on Facebook that you are now on other platforms too. You need to market that!

Step Two: Tap into More Emotions

Please for the love of all that is scared, stop just playing to the emotion of hunger! Look through your current social media stream (and without overthinking it), look at your posts and write down the emotion that is immediately triggered. Hunger, hunger, hunger, hunger, cat meme (humor), hunger, hunger, and wait...hunger.

Rainbows are not just one color and neither should the emotions you use for social media. Tap into the depth of being human. Community, family, charity, education, nostalgia, humor, love, and happiness are emotions you want to use more often and with more intensity. Just remember that posting on social media is about keeping your brand top of mind. Which leads us to step three.

Step Three: Make a Marketing Calendar

We could get into a very deep discussion about creating an elaborate calendar for your marketing efforts, however, let's keep this simple so you will use it. Get a seven-day calendar. Just seven days to start.

Now with your new list is emotional triggers start writing down a different emotion under each day. If you use the 8 emotions listed earlier, you will have one under each day. Now, you can use the hunger emotion too, let's just not make it the primary one as you have in the past. Start on Sunday and go through the week, then whatever emotion you started with on Sunday start over again on Monday so use all the emotions again only this time they will be staggered so no two emotions are on the same day. You will want to do this at a minimum of 3 times. Yes, that is correct you want to increase your social media posts to at least 3 times a day: early morning, afternoon, and early evening. That might make you uncomfortable. Good. You need to be if you want to break away from being a commodity.

Remember that engagement is the real secret to social media marketing success. Use the 80:20 Rule. Only 20% of your social media activities should be you posting stuff about your restaurant. The other 80% should you liking other people's post (those that follower you, don't get sidetracked into going on your personal page) and replying to comments from fans. Everyone who makes a comment should receive an acknowledgement of that. When you look at the size and depth of the internet, you'll soon realize that few people comment. Treat those people like gold!

Step Four: Use Tools to Help You

Now you have some new emotional triggers and a calendar of what day to post them on. Yipes, this can appear to be a bit overwhelming (especially if you are holding onto that I don't have time excise). What is a restaurant to do? Get leverage.

There are quite a few social media management tools out there that can make you appear to have an entire marketing department at your service. It takes a little work to create content (hey, nothing exceptional is ever easy), however once you have that you just need to get that message out to your guests

Hootsuite and Buffer are two such social media tools that allow you to spend very little time (like an hour each week) and have all your posts scheduled across your social media platforms. Once you have your posts scheduled for the week all you need to do is now spend about 10-20 minutes a day engaging with your guests! Break out the That Was Easy button!

How about looking more professional online as well? You see those big brands with their polished look on social media...why not you? Can't afford a full time graphic design team? With online resources like Canva and Adobe Spark Post you don't need a team of design wizards in the back office. These tools have templates and access to graphic design images that will take your posts to the next level.

If you have a smartphone you also have access to an incredible tool to make you truly stand out in your market with incredible photos that used to take a professional photographer to capture. The iPhone 7 plus has a unique dual camera feature (which is rumored to be standard on the new iPhone 8) that allows you to take a picture where the subject is crystal clear and the background is blurry (portrait effect). How would a picture of one of your staff standing (smiling) in the middle of the dining room holding a plate of your signature entree with the rest of the busy dining room behind them look? One word: likeable.

Get Off the Sidelines

Want to know what separates those restaurants that stand out in their market and those that stay stuck in the middle? Consistent action. They see social media marketing as a must and not a should. Let's be clear that all those things on your list that are a “should” rarely happen. Only when you make a real commitment and turn that should into a must will you start taking action. Action is the difference from those that wish for things and those that make it a reality. Take these steps, put them in action, and take your brand to the top of your market.


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