This guest post is written by Tim Sunderland, Director of Content at NetWaiter. NetWaiter provides online ordering and marketing tools for restaurants.
The marketing strategy in your business plan may seem insignificant compared to site details and menu specifications but it is one of the components investors look at most. Profits come from sales and unless you can paint a clear picture of how you’re going to get customers in the door and keep them coming back, you will appear as a risky investment. Here are some tips to follow when creating your business plan that will ensure your marketing strategy is on point as your floor plan.
1. Implement a strategy to attract attention to your business before it opens.
The time building up to your grand opening is crucial. It’s imperative that you put together a plan to create awareness about your business even before you open the doors. This ensures that you will have customers at a time when bringing in money matters most. Come up with creative ways to spark interest in your new restaurant. Check with local radio stations about giving away gift cards to listeners or send out invites for a soft opening where people can sample your menu for free. Whatever you do, keep costs in mind and don’t let excitement diminish your budget.
2. Set up a rewards program.
One of the simplest and most effective ways of creating customer loyalty is having a program in effect that rewards frequent diners. It can be as simple as you want (your standard punch card with a buy x get x free system) or as complicated (a card that is swiped at every sale to track activity and unlock benefits and perks based on spending). Having this program in effect starting day one will help you secure first time diners from the start.
3. Begin building a database of your customers.
Take every opportunity to gather information about your customers. Without a list of emails or addresses to reach out to, all marketing efforts will be to cold leads. Compiling a database of people that are actual customers solidifies that your message is being delivered to interested parties, and will put more momentum behind future promotions and events.
4. Choose a community or charity to sponsor.
Having ties to the community is an important part of restaurant marketing. Linking up with a specific organization or charity associates your name with the cause and creates brand awareness. Find a way in which you can donate a percent of your profits, give away services or product, or share your facility to benefit a local nonprofit group.
5. Include PR and advertisings efforts.
While some businesses prefer to rely solely on social media to promote their business it’s important to include some solid PR and advertising methods as well. Public relations deals with the public perspective of your business, and when implemented properly can be very effective at promoting a positive image of you to your audience. With advertising, utilizing a mix of traditional and new media is best. Which platforms you rely on to deliver your advertising is greatly dependent on the demographics of your customer. Include the why as well as the how in your advertising strategy to show your methods are based on the type of diner you are targeting.
6. Network with other local businesses.
The other businesses in your community can provide ample opportunities to grow your restaurant. Hosting corporate functions and catering working lunches are just two ways you can increase sales by forming bonds with other businesses. Become active in the right circles by researching networking events that bring local business owners together. Include these avenues in your business plan as alternative ways of increasing sales outside of the traditional dining experience. Start by becoming a member of active business groups in your area such as your local Chamber of Commerce.