Your Restaurant Business Plan Needs to Factor In Marketing — Here’s Why

Jessica Elliott

Jessica Elliott

Jessica combines 24 years in public-facing roles with the latest research to deliver insights into technology, operations, and marketing. She helps business owners and private practitioners develop successful systems to reach and retain clients while strengthening their internal communications.

A young woman sitting in cafe with her adorable French bulldog puppy.

90% of people research a restaurant online before choosing a place to eat. They scan your website, social channels, and look for reviews. Your marketing provides a map that guides folks to your door. It shows people what makes your brand different from the diner down the street.

Yet, many restaurateurs skip over this important step when building their restaurant business plan. They focus on financials and location but fail to account for the role marketing plays in each section.

A marketing plan is essential. It gives you a clear picture of your costs and how you’ll reach your goals. While marketing is a subset of the business plan, the reality is that it’s nearly impossible to realize success without dedicating resources and defining marketing tactics. Discover seven reasons why your restaurant business plan needs to factor in marketing.

1. Provide details for your financial reports

Restaurateurs spend a lot of time preparing their restaurant business plans. You gather estimates for equipment, location, and other expenses. The financial section of your project provides details needed to secure financing. Plus, knowing your costs help you plan for a year or two without profit.

Since many restaurants fail due to a lack of capital, assessing your needs before startup is vital. Yet, marketing plays a huge role in your financials—for example, your projected restaurant profit and loss statement list sales and marketing expenses. Without a strategy, you won’t know how much each aspect, like your website, costs.

Sure, you can guess at this number. But, if you fail to allocate enough resources, then your other financial estimates will be off as well because marketing influences your sales and revenue. Start on the right foot by budgeting for each detail. Doing so helps you avoid unexpected bills and get the right amount of startup funding.

2. Support your sales and revenue goals

Your financial statements give estimates for in-house, delivery, and carryout sales. But, those sales don’t happen without action on your part. Opening a restaurant isn’t just a matter of putting out a sign and assuming people will fill your seats. To reach your objectives, you need a marketing plan that defines:

  • What menu items you’re promoting
  • Who your ideal customers are
  • How you’ll share your unique selling proposition (USP)
  • Where people will buy your food (online, an app, or in-house)
  • When and how people will interact with your restaurant brand

Plus, your marketing strategy helps you set reasonable goals. After all, you aim for high sales when you open. But, data provides context for your financial figures. It lists the steps you’ll take to reach each objective in a set timeframe. Tie your marketing activities to your business goals so you can measure what’s working and alter your plan as needed.

3. Target your ideal customers

Not everyone is your customer, and that’s okay! Understanding your ideal guests helps you plan ways to engage and attract them to your restaurant. Part of your business plan includes a market analysis and overview.

But, your marketing strategy breaks this down further. It creates an ideal client profile. You use data to determine:

  • Demographics: age, income, profession, and education
  • Psychographics: values, interests, lifestyle, goals, and desires

Restaurateurs rely on this data to make reliable marketing decisions. For example, if you’re targeting business professionals, then you want a digital strategy that includes LinkedIn. If you’re aiming for a younger market, however, then you want to dedicate resources to TikTok.

Four Young Female Friends Meeting For Drinks And Food Posing For Selfie In Restaurant

Your information also shows when your guests are online. It provides details like the best times to reach your audience. The more you know about your customers, the easier it is to create marketing campaigns that pique their curiosity.

4. Increase brand visibility

Location is a vital aspect of your business plan. Yet, marketing is what draws people to your site. To ensure brand awareness, restaurateurs create a plan for each touchpoint. Little details, like how your customers travel, affect how you market your brand. For example:

  • Do you need extra signage on the side of your building for a high-traffic road or sidewalk?
  • Should you dedicate resources to local print mailers for a less digital population?
  • Will placing your menu on Facebook increase your delivery sales?

You want to find many ways to display your brand and key messages. Yet, budgets are slim. Avoid wasting resources in the wrong areas by selecting your marketing platforms and activities while creating your restaurant business plan.

5. Define your marketing mix

Each marketing platform requires time and money. It’s impossible to be on every social channel without a considerable budget. Get the most from your resources with data-based decisions. Go where your guests are and identify ways to get their attention. Your marketing mix may include:

  • Email lists
  • Website
  • Loyalty program
  • Social media
  • Print mailers
  • Display ads
  • Review sites
  • Google business pages
  • Community and charity events

Each of these channels takes a specific type of tools, experience, and time. To choose your marketing mix, you may start with a big wish list. Then, you should narrow it down to reach the most people and stay within your budget. A recent Toast report finds:

  • 67% of restaurants plan to pay for social media ads
  • 53% plan to invest in being a community event or charity sponsor
  • 91% of restaurants use Facebook
  • 78% post on Instagram

Dive into the demographics and psychographics of your ideal restaurant guests. Then, identify your platforms. Next, list specific marketing actions that ensure you reach your sales goals.

6. Allocate human resources

Part of your restaurant business plan talks about staffing, outsourcing, and other forms of external support. For example, you may include details about your accountant or lawyer. But, it’s also crucial to identify who handles marketing activities.

  • Will you run your social media accounts?
  • Can a manager oversee email messages?
  • Should you hire a PR person?

Each company you partner with reflects on your brand. So, you want assurance that their business aligns with yours. Don’t wait until the last minute to get help with your marketing activities. Instead, research your options for PR and marketing before opening your doors.

Your marketing plan also defines how much time you and other team members will dedicate to different activities. Estimate how much time you’ll spend on each of your marketing channels, including review sites. Then review your resources. If you can’t afford to outsource all marketing activities, then consider outsourcing a portion to save yourself time.

7. Create a high-performing pre-launch and launch campaign

Your business plan includes startup expenses and your opening plans. Generating excitement before opening helps fill your seats from day one. But, you must account for opening marketing expenses and develop a strategy that supports your launch day goals. Your pre-launch plan may include:

Once your doors open, you’ll be busy with the day-to-day operations. However, you also have to pivot towards marketing tactics that build relationships with your customers. Your marketing activities may consist of:

  • Adding guests to your loyalty program or email list
  • Creating social media giveaways and contests to increase store traffic
  • Directing customers to your website for coupons or deals

By creating a detailed launch strategy, you’ll have a list of actions to take. This helps you avoid feeling overwhelmed or wasting time on the wrong platforms. Plus, by connecting each element of your marketing plan to business-specific goals, you’ll show investors or financial establishments how you’ll achieve your objectives.

Restaurant business plan: Marketing pulls it all together

From an Instagrammable restaurant layout to clear goals, marketing influences each section of your business plan. Figuring out critical details early helps you reach your audience faster. Plus, you’ll achieve brand consistency before opening your doors. Starting a restaurant is an adventure. Calculate your risks and meet your sales goals by creating a step-by-step plan for success.

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