Restaurant Marketing for New Restaurant Owners: What You Need to Know

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Restaurant marketing done right can help you gain new customers while also inspiring increased engagement and loyalty from current customers.

There’s a lot to consider when it comes to marketing your restaurant efficiently and cost-effectively, which is why we recommend starting by creating a comprehensive restaurant marketing plan. Then, it’s onto the nitty gritty — marketing your restaurant over multiple channels. (We recommend not just a multichannel, but rather, an omnichannel marketing strategy).

GoFoodservice has all the details about what you need to know and do, from establishing and building a social media presence to hosting community events. Follow our restaurant owner’s marketing guide, and you’ll be well on your way to success in the restaurant industry.

Understand Your Target Audience & Personas

Do you know who your desired target audience is yet?

If not, it’s time to do some market research.

When opening a restaurant, it’s important to know who you are catering it to. That includes the target audience as a whole and target personas (there’s a difference).

Target Audience vs. Buyer Personas

Target audience “refers to a like-minded group of consumers interested in your product”, while buyer personas "describe a category of buyers beneath the larger target audience umbrella.”

Acquirent’s Joe Flanagan refers to this as the difference between a building (target audience) and bricks (buyer personas).

How to Collect Target Audience & Buyer Persona Data

To better understand your target audience, it may be helpful to gather information about your customers based on high-level demographics and psychographics using market research methodologies and tools like Google Analytics and Facebook insights.

You can then distill and refine this information to create buyer personas, which Flanagan notes should “emphasize the specific goals of each customer”, allowing you to “tailor your [offerings] to address individual needs so customers feel like they are being cared for on a personal level”.

Craft Your Brand Identity

What makes a restaurant successful? Part of it has to do with crafting a strong brand identity and then reinforcing that brand identity by infusing it into everything you do (e.g., a restaurant design and carryout packaging that ties back to your brand; menu names that reinforce branding standards, etc.)

As Kathryn Wheeler notes for HubSpot, creating a brand identity is much more than deciding on a font or picking a logo

A brand identity is made up of what your brand says, what your values are, how you communicate your product, and what you want people to feel when they interact with your company. Essentially, your brand identity is the personality of your business and a promise to your customers.
Kathryn Wheeler

You should also work intentionally to link your brand identity with your brand strategy.

Create an Online Presence With Multichannel Marketing

Marketing a restaurant used to entail sending out direct mail flyers and coupons, hosting weekly happy hours that would spread through an area by word-of-mouth, and hosting events to raise brand awareness. And, while these actions can still be important, digital marketing has changed the game of restaurant marketing quite significantly in the past two-plus decades.

Establishing a website for your restaurant, once optional, is now essential. So is utilizing the social media marketing channels your target audience frequents. We encourage you to utilize our “Restaurant Social Media Guide” to develop a deeper understanding of how you can utilize social media marketing to your advantage.

We recommend against putting all your proverbial eggs into one basket. Adopting a multichannel, or better yet, omnichannel, marketing approach is usually best. Here are just some ways you can market your restaurant business digitally:

  • Google My Business (GMB) & Google Reputation Reputation Manager
  • Social media marketing, influencer marketing, & online collabs
  • Organic search/SEO
  • Paid search/ Pay-per-click (PPC) ads
  • Text & email blasts
  • ...And more!

Don’t Neglect Traditional Marketing & Advertising Channels

As useful as social media marketing is, you shouldn’t neglect traditional marketing and advertising channels. Offline marketing is as important as online marketing, especially for establishing a good reputation locally in your community, and especially for a target audience that skews older and is less likely to be active on social media.

There’s a reason that so many restaurants host community events, sell at farmer’s markets, and join food festivals, not to mention advertise in the newspaper: not only are these events ways to bring in extra revenue, they’re also ways to spread brand awareness.

Guerilla marketing is another great way to put out high-impact campaigns at a low cost.

Analyze & Measure Your Marketing Efforts

You can market yourself 'til your face turns blue, but if you don’t track your marketing efforts, you won’t know if they’ve been successful or what to do to ensure your continued success.

Therefore it’s important to measure your marketing efforts on an ongoing basis and make adjustments accordingly.

Gaining access to the right data and making sense of it isn’t a skill set that comes naturally to everyone, though. Plus, many new restauranteurs will have enough on their hands to deal with running things. Therefore, hiring a good restaurant marketing agency is often a good idea, if it is within your budget.

Going it alone? Want to learn more effective restaurant marketing ideas? While it doesn’t directly cover digital marketing for restaurants, HubSpot’s SMB-oriented blog “50 Ideas for Your 2023 Small Business Marketing Strategy” is a good place to start.

Back to Basics: Furnishing Your Restaurant With The Right Equipment

It’s important to spread the word about who you are as a restaurant and what you have to offer. But don’t forget the basics!

We can help with establishing your restaurant physically and digitally! In addition to our marketing guide, linked above, you can find all the commercial restaurant equipment you could hope to have on our online storefront. Shop now to get your restaurant prepped for the kind of success we sincerely hope you will enjoy.

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