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Restaurant marketing guide – Everything you need to know

Last checked and updated on 11 May 2022

Running a restaurant can be challenging. There are so many things to think about – from the food you serve, to the staff you hire, to the marketing strategy you put in place. It’s important for restaurants to have a well-thought-out marketing plan if they want to be successful.

In this guide, we will walk you through everything you need to know about restaurant marketing. We’ll discuss common challenges that restaurants face and provide tips on how to overcome them. Plus, we’ll give you a detailed step-by-step guide on how to write a marketing plan for your restaurant!

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Marketing challenges for restaurants

One of the biggest challenges that restaurants face is standing out from the crowd. With so many choices available, it can be difficult to get customers to come through your doors. That’s why it’s important to have an effective marketing strategy in place. There are a number of ways to market your restaurant, but it’s important to choose the right mix of tactics that will work for your business.

Restaurant marketing budget

Another common challenge is knowing how much to spend on marketing. Many restaurants don’t have a large marketing budget, so it’s important to make every dollar count.

What percentage of revenue should a restaurant spend on marketing?
There’s no easy answer to this question, as it will vary depending on your specific business goals. However, a good rule of thumb is to allocate around 5-15 percent of your overall budget to marketing. This will give you enough room to try different marketing tactics and find what works best for your business.

Lost-cost or free restaurant marketing options

There are a number of free or low-cost marketing tactics you can use to reach your target customers.

Some free or low-cost marketing tactics that restaurants can use include:

  • Developing a strong social media presence and using hashtags to reach a wider audience
  • Running contests or special promotions
  • Creating a website and using search engine optimisation tactics to draw traffic
  • Printing menus and other marketing materials in-house to keep costs down
  • Using word-of-mouth marketing by providing excellent service and encouraging customers to spread the word about your restaurant.

Of course, there are many other marketing tactics that restaurants can use, but these are some of the most effective and affordable options. By using a combination of these tactics, you can create an effective marketing plan for your restaurant without breaking the bank.

Best ways for restaurants to allocate available marketing budget

There are a number of ways that restaurants can allocate their available marketing budget. The most important thing is to make sure you are allocating your resources in the most effective way possible. Here are some tips on how to do that:

  • Make sure you have a clear understanding of your target market and what they want before you allocate your budget.
  • Use a mix of marketing tactics to reach your target market. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.
  • Track your results and ROI (return on investment) for each marketing tactic you use. This will help you determine which tactics are working and which ones aren’t.
  • Reallocate your budget as needed based on what’s working and what isn’t.
  • Think about geographic distance from your restaurant and consider local online marketing.
  • And last but not least, don’t be afraid to experiment! Try new things and see what works for your business.

Writing a marketing plan for your restaurant

If you’re ready to start marketing your restaurant, we have a detailed step-by-step guide to help you get started. In this guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to include in your marketing plan. We’ll also give you common mistakes to avoid and answer some frequently asked questions about restaurant marketing.

Sections to include in a restaurant marketing plan

How to write a restaurant marketing plan

  1. Executive Summary

    The Executive Summary provides a high-level overview of the entire marketing plan. It should include a brief description of the restaurant, its target market, and the goals of the marketing plan.

  2. Situation Analysis

    The Situation Analysis section describes the current market conditions that the restaurant is operating in. This includes information on the demographics of the target market, the competition, and the current landscape of the industry.

  3. Target Market Segments

    The Target Market Segments section describes the specific demographics of the target market that the restaurant is trying to reach. This includes information on the age, sex, income, and geographic location of the target market.

  4. Market Needs and Wants

    This section describes the specific needs and wants of the target market that the restaurant is trying to reach. This includes information on what type of food they want, what type of atmosphere they want, and what type of service they expect.

  5. Product Offerings

    This section describes the specific products and services that the restaurant offers. It includes information on the types of food that are served, the type of atmosphere that is provided, and the type of service that is offered.

  6. Competitive Landscape

    The Competitive Landscape section describes the competition that the restaurant is facing. This includes information on the number of competitors, the type of products and services they offer, and how they are competing in the market.

  7. Marketing Strategies

    This section describes the specific marketing strategies that the restaurant will use to reach its target market. It includes information on the methods that will be used, the channels that will be targeted, and the budget that will be allocated to each strategy.

  8. Sales Forecast

    The purpose of this section is to provide a forecast for the sales that the restaurant will generate in the coming year. This includes information on the estimated number of customers that will be served, the average amount that each customer will spend, and the total amount of sales that will be generated.

  9. Implementation Plan

    The Implementation Plan section describes the specific steps that will be taken to execute the marketing strategies that were outlined in the previous section. It includes information on the timeline for implementation, the resources that will be needed, and the contact information for the people responsible for executing the plan.

  10. Evaluation

    The purpose of the Evaluation section is to track the progress of the marketing plan and determine whether or not it is achieving its goals. This includes information on how well the strategies are performing, the amount of traffic that is being generated, and the amount of sales that are being generated.

Understanding your target audience

One of the most important elements of a successful restaurant marketing plan is identifying your target audience. Who are you trying to reach with your marketing message? Once you know who your target customer is, you can start to develop marketing tactics that will appeal to them.

There are a number of ways to reach your target audience. Traditional advertising methods, such as print ads, radio ads, and TV commercials, can be effective but can also be expensive. Another option is to use digital marketing tactics, such as developing a strong social media presence or creating targeted online ads.

Once you’ve identified your target audience and chosen the right mix of marketing tactics, it’s important to track your results. Keep track of how many new customers you’re seeing and how much revenue your marketing efforts are generating. This will help you fine-tune your strategy and make sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck.

Common mistakes to avoid

When it comes to marketing your restaurant, there are a few common mistakes that you’ll want to avoid. First, don’t underestimate the importance of developing a strong branding strategy. Your brand is what sets you apart from your competitors and should be reflected in all aspects of your business, from your logo and color scheme to the way you answer the phone.

Another common mistake is failing to track your results. As we mentioned earlier, it’s important to keep track of the number of new customers you’re seeing and the amount of revenue your marketing efforts are generating. This will help you determine whether or not your strategy is working and make necessary adjustments.

Finally, don’t forget to budget for your marketing efforts. Marketing can be expensive, so you’ll need to make sure you have enough money set aside to cover the costs.

Should a restaurant handle marketing in-house, or hire a marketing agency?

There is no right or wrong answer to this question, as it depends on the resources that a restaurant has available. If a restaurant has the staff and expertise to handle marketing in-house, then it may be the best option.

However, if a restaurant doesn’t have the time or manpower to devote to marketing, then hiring an agency may be the best solution. Ultimately, it’s important to find a marketing solution that fits the needs of your restaurant.

Pros and cons of hiring a marketing agency

There are a few things to consider when deciding whether or not to hire a marketing agency. One of the main advantages of working with an agency is that they have a team of experts who are familiar with the latest marketing trends and techniques. They also have the resources to implement large-scale marketing campaigns.

However, there are a few disadvantages to working with an agency as well. One is that agencies can be expensive, and there is no guarantee that you will see a return on your investment. Additionally, agencies may not have the same level of understanding of your restaurant’s brand and customers as you do.


Still have questions about restaurant marketing? Check out our FAQ section below for more information.

What are some common mistakes to avoid when marketing a restaurant?

Some common mistakes include not having a clear target audience, not tracking results, and not budgeting enough for marketing.

How much should a restaurant spend on marketing?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. The amount you spend on marketing will depend on a number of factors, such as your target audience, the mix of marketing tactics you’re using, and your overall budget.

What sections should I include in my restaurant marketing plan?

Your marketing plan should include an executive summary, a description of your target audience, a discussion of your marketing tactics, and a budget. Follow our detailed guide above.

How do I write a marketing plan for a restaurant?

Check out our step-by-step guide to writing a restaurant marketing plan.

Should a restaurant handle marketing in-house, or hire a marketing agency?

There is no right or wrong answer to this question. It depends on the resources that a restaurant has available.

Now that you know everything there is to know about restaurant marketing, it’s time to put together a plan for your business! Use the tips and information in this guide to develop a strategy that will help you attract new customers and grow your business.

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Important – The information provided in our articles is intended to be for general purpose use only, and not advice for you or your business. We strive to publish accurate information, but encourage you to fact-check and seek expert guidance. You should always speak to a qualified professional to get tailored advice about how to operate your business under your specific requirements and circumstances.