Restaurant Marketing


Marketing is more than advertising, especially for hospitality companies

Marketing is tough, getting people in the doors during the slow season can be difficult. What makes marketing even tougher in the 21st century is those said people is even more of a mystery with all of the different mediums: TV, Billboards, Website, Social Media (a can of worms in itself). Nonetheless do you know your clientele? Is this the clientele you want? Is your target market the elusive “Millennial” group or is it families with small children? Are you not sure what the target market is for your concept? The questions are endless, worst of all, you are in the restaurant industry! Marketing consultants and shops seem to always want to be involved with restaurants, however they don’t understand the business as a whole, especially during that crucial first 6 months after opening.

Restaurant marketing involves two parts, the first is getting guests (not customers) in the door. The second is the most important part of restaurant marketing: PEOPLE! Are the right people doing the right things? There is the traditional “marketing mix” Price, Place, Product, Promotion. The hospitality, which includes restaurants, adds PEOPLE.


The term “people” refers to be both those working in the restaurant and the guests. How do the people working for you present the business? How does the style of service set an expectation? Can something as small as a step of service change guest perception. Sure they can go get a similar meal elsewhere, especially if you are a steakhouse or burger chain! What is it that makes THIS restaurant unique? Is it a signature experience or is it something done different to a classic dish like meatloaf made from a cow the chef hand selected from a farmer (not a feedlot)?

What can be done to get the right people on both sides of the equation? Therein lies the magic of effective marketing for a restaurant! There are a many ways to reach the people, we need to get them into your building. This is not anyone, but the again the right people. There are many resources:

Social Media:

Are you familiar with any of these networks?

YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Google+, Vine, Instagram and YELP?

These are social media resources that are a means to attract and engage guests and potential guests. not only for diners to complain and smear your business. An experience at a restaurant can start and end on social…use it.


The concept of brand is more than a logo and a name. Brand, along with service is one of the most intangible elements of marketing and is what guests interact with.

What is brand?

Brand is any and all of the following and how they interact with guests, current, past and future. Here are a few examples:

  • Logo
  • Tag Line/motto
  • Atmosphere
  • Appearance/items of Menu
  • Wording for menu items
  • How staff and managers are dressed
  • Interior design and colors
  • Music played in dining room
  • People associated with the business

These are a few of the many elements that make up a brand. Keep in mind that it is impossible to control every compontent of brand. What can make brand more effective? An AVATAR! Not the famous movie, but your ideal customer (s).

What is an AVATAR?

What is a Restaurant Avatar

An Avatar is a famous movie made by James Cameron? TRUE! But in our case an AVATAR is the ideal guest (s) at a restaurant. Do not be afraid to niche down and really develop a target client/guest. No need to mass market. Finding a niche and develop it. In our economy today it is best to know your ideal client and really target them, hence the avatar. Creation of this ideal guest can make building a brand easy and is actually the first step in building a brand. Putting the time in upfront here can make the rest of the branding process go much more smoothly.


What better way to show off a restaurant than with fantastic service? This service does not have to be over-the-top, it has to be effective and consistent with the concept and price point. Good service sells and it builds a relationship with current and future guests. Several studies have shown that a guest is more likely to revisit a restaurant where they received “good” service if the food was mediocre over a restaurant with good food and “average” service.

Does your service need a few tweaks or FOH staff need a more advanced training?

Can a few words or actions result in big sales increases?

Are there bottles of wine and whiskey collecting dust somewhere that need to be sold?

Would a more confident service team with high morale contribute to more sales and better guest interaction?

How would the FOH staff respond to a “different” voice coaching them?


Does your page need a little optimizing? Maybe it needs a refresh or some work on the backend to get on that coveted first page of Google searches. Does this sound foreign to you? Some say SEO is dead, but there is still value in having the back end of a website built to be an easy read for search engine crawlers, especially Google. Imagine being able to turn the ocean of restaurants in an area to a pond leveraging the power of the internet. Thanks SEO.

Menu Engineering/Design

Find yourself throwing away too much prep of an unpopular item?

The most popular item on the menu bring in the least amount of profit?

Think adding a new dish can replace an unpopular one?

Are the words “GLUTEN FREE” frightening?

Ever think of carrying “local” food?

Feel the age of “.$XX.95” has seen better days?

Marketing and Service go together

Without zeros it can get scary!

There are many questions that need to be asked when considering altering a menu. However been for any menu changes are made be sure to find the breakdown of the menu from a profitability angle. Take a big picture look at the menu and how it reflects a P&L also the appearance. Remember, menus tell a story to guests and the bottom line.

Spread the word with the whole staff!

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