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Warning! Here are the Most Common Restaurant Marketing Mistakes

Saif Alnasur
Saif Alnasur

Oct 30, 2017 3:04:21 PM

It is often recommended that restaurants spend at least 3% of their annual revenue on marketing, with some experts even suggesting at least 10%. There's no arguing that marketing is incredibly important for your restaurant, but what do you do when you've tried every marketing technique possible and still have nothing to show for it. 

Maybe it's time to rethink elements of your marketing strategy, or ditch it all together and start from scratch. 

Here are the 7 most common marketing mistakes you might be making and tips on how to start turning your efforts into paying customers.

Restaurant Marketing

You don’t understand your audience

Do you know who your target audience is? If your answer is “everyone” you are wrong. Don't worry though, this is one of the most common marketing mistakes. There is no way for your restaurant to appeal to everyone (and even if there was, you shouldn't). Instead, focus on one target market. To achieve this, you need to not only know who you are, but also what your brand is all about.

An exercise that helps to understand your audience is to develop a background for your ideal customer. Some people refer to this as a "Customer Persona".

Putting a persona together includes knowing:

  • Their age group
  • Income bracket
  • What neighborhoods they live in
  • Where they shop

By painting a detailed picture of your ideal customer, you are one step closer to understanding your target market. Making it a lot easier to tailor what you offer to just them.

Underestimating your competition

If you aren't taking the time to assess your competition, how do you expect to know what you are up against? The more restaurants there are in your area, the more the market is divided between them. And when your primary goal is to secure as much of that market as you can, you need to know your competitors inside and out.

If you've shielded yourself from your competition up until now, all hope is not entirely lost. Try to visit a few of your nearby competitors and collect as much information as possible. Check to see how your menus compare, how your pricing may be different, and most importantly, are they offering something you aren't? 

With information in hand, you are now in a much better position to make business decisions that result in better offerings than your competition. Making you an irresistible choice for potential customers. 

Your restaurant lacks a vision

The most powerful piece of information in your possession as a restaurant marketer is your restaurant mission. These days, knowing what to do and how to do it alone isn't enough. Succeeding in a modern restaurant landscape means understanding the very core of your brand.

Your restaurant might sell the best burgers in town, but that means nothing if you don’t understand why you do it. Every restaurant needs a story, and it’s time to figure out yours if you want to succeed.

You don’t know where to be

Conventional marketing was simple, as long as you had enough money to run a TV ad or a radio spot, your restaurant would be fine. These days though, marketing for your restaurant is almost entirely online, with many abandoning the offline space. 

Once you have a better understanding of your audience, you can start to figure out what they do online and cater ads to reach them. Getting your restaurant on social media sites like Facebook and Instagram is an imperative part to your restaurant marketing plan, as they are the quickest way to attract new customers through interesting content.

Failing to capture repeat customers

Repeat customers are your restaurant's secret weapon. In the restaurant industry, 40% of business comes from existing customers. Failing to appeal to these repeat customers will directly impact sales. Try understanding the wants and needs of your current customers before trying to focus on gaining a larger customer base.

Using restaurant management software can help you get a better idea of your current customers, by providing you with built in CRM features that you wouldn't otherwise have. Also using restaurant reservation systems to make your restaurant easily accessible to consumers increases the chances of diners coming back. 


Lack of a Unique Selling Point (USP)

The food & beverage world is saturated with the same ideas. If your restaurant isn’t offering anything unique, your brand will slowly blend in with the rest. When you’ve found your unique selling point, make sure you use it in every single piece of marketing you conduct.

This should be your primary selling point, the point that will help attract new customers.

Expecting Results Overnight

In general, marketing is a long term investment. You can’t expect to run ads one week, and see an instant jump in business the week after. Whether it be ads or SEO content, you can sometimes expect it to take a few weeks or months before you notice anything. Make sure you remain patient and keep at it.


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