How To Write a Restaurant Marketing Plan

What is the goal of your restaurant? If you’re like the rest of the world, you’re in business to make a profit so you can support yourself, your employees, your investors, and continue to grow the business. But do you have a roadmap to reach that goal? It’s been said that a goal without a plan is just a wish. Are you wishing for success, or do you have a plan for success?

The essential plan for success for your restaurant is your Restaurant Marketing Plan. Creating one should be a yearly project where you plan out your roadmap to success for the next 12 months. It is an in-depth look at where you are, what the market is like, and identifies your opportunities for growth. You may choose to not utilize every section if you’re an independent operator, unless there are investors involved and they often insist on a complete document. But even if it’s just your family business, taking the time to think through and create a marketing plan will improve your business and help discover ways to grow.

Before we look at the elements of a restaurant marketing plan, let’s talk about what it’s not. For many restaurant operators, their idea of a marketing plan is essentially an advertising calendar. “We’re on radio this week, followed by a coupon mailer next week, then a newspaper insert.” While a calendar is useful and should be a part of your marketing plan, it is not the plan itself.

The following is an outline of the different sections of a marketing plan.

1. Executive Summary: This is the section you write last. It sums up the highlights of all the other sections.

2. Situation Analysis

a. Market Summary – What is your market like?

i. Target Markets – Who is your core customer, and are they the target market you want to focus on for the future?

ii. Market Analysis – What is your market currently like? Where are your customers drawn from?

iii. Market Demographics – Describe the make-up of your target market.

iv. Market Needs – What is missing in your market? Are they underserved? Do they need more locations?

v. Market Trends – What’s happening in your market today?

vi. Market Growth – This is often an economic look at the market.

b. SWOT Analysis

i. Strengths – Describe the strengths of your restaurant.

ii. Weaknesses – What are your restaurant’s weaknesses?

iii. Opportunities – Where do you see opportunities?

iv. Threats – What threatens your business? Could be internal or external threats.

c. Competition

i. Growth and Share Analysis – In depth look at your competition.

ii. Competitor by Growth and Share – Breakout of the information by company.

d. Service Offerings – What do you offer your customers? What is it they seek?

e. Keys to Success – Condense your keys to success into a few points.

f. Critical Issues – What is critical to your business today in in the next 12 months?

3. Marketing Strategy – Describe your marketing strategy, advertising plan, local store marketing, public relations, and any other marketing tactics.

4. Financials, Budgets, and Forecasts – This is the accounting section, with costs, budgets, profit & loss, and projections for the future.

5. Controls – What systems have you put in place to control your business?

When you go through the process of creating a complete Restaurant Marketing Plan, you will have a better understanding about your business. It provides an opportunity to really think about where you currently are and identify what direction your company needs to go in the future to grow. This plan is the roadmap to turn your goals into a reality.