Welcome to the Restaurant Doctor UK guide to restaurant marketing and advertising strategies

Marketing is not something you should be afraid of, it is a worthwhile activity you should definitely spend some time doing. The benefits of marketing are that you define who you sell your products to, why they choose your restaurant and you target your advertising effectively in order to achieve the best results. The aim of this guide is to provide you with a straightforward, straight to the point knowledge of marketing your restaurant successfully. We have included only the information that is relevant and useful to you and kept all the boring and confusing stuff out, so you can get to work on your marketing strategy faster and confidently

Identifying the target market for your restaurant.

To put it simply your target market is the people who see your restaurant as the place that they want to go to in order to fulfil their need. You may think that everyone is in your target market, well you’d be wrong! You have to look at what food you serve, how much it costs, who can afford or has time to eat in your restaurant, where they live, and what they do for a living to determine who will come in your restaurant.

Who is not in your restaurant's target market?

These are the people you don’t cater for; your restaurant does not fulfil their wants or needs so they aren’t interested.

Who could these people be?

If you have no vegetarian options on your menu - vegetarians.
If you do not have a children’s option or changing facilities - families.
If you are expensive - generally people on low incomes.
If you do not have healthy options - people who are conscious about healthy food.

There are more examples, but the above highlight how easy it is to alienate people from your restaurant.

We can’t tell you who your target market is, as we don’t know what type of restaurant you operate, where you are or how much you charge. So we will have to be general, who is likely to be your target market?

Professionals taking clients to dinner/lunch.
Workmates dining with colleagues (staff party)
Couples having a romantic night together.
Families having a treat.
Passing trade (anyone who sees your restaurant and decides to eat there).

Once you know your target market you need to know where they work, where they live, what magazines and papers they are likely to read and who they talk to, then you know how you will reach them.

What do you want to tell people about your restaurant?

This is the message you want to send out to people about your product/service or restaurant in general. There are a few things you could put in a message to potential customers, these are:

You could tell people about your business, the type of food/drink you serve or where you are. This arouses the customer’s curiosity in your restaurant and the product you offer, this is a good way of introducing new customers to your business, as existing customers won’t be interested in something they already know. Take a moment to think about your various selling points, If you are family friendly you may want to make this a big part of your message to promote your restaurant to families, or you have pensioner special discounts, or you cater for parties.

You could let people know about a special offer or promotion you are currently running. This would entice existing and new customers to your restaurant, as you would be creating an incentive for them to come to you rather than go somewhere else. (If your offer is better than your competition’s).

You could tell them what charity you are associated with and what you do for them. This would show customers that you have strong ethics and they would be more likely to trust you and try your restaurant because in turn they feel that they are doing something good too.

Or you could tell them all of these.

It is up to you what sort of message you send out to existing or potential customers. Although your message should be relevant to the people you are trying to target, e.g. ‘we are a family friendly restaurant’ is intended to target families!

Restaurant Advertising.

Once you know WHAT you are going to say, and WHO you are saying it to, you need to decide HOW you want to send your message. Advertising takes many shapes and forms, there are many methods of getting your message across to customers, some more effective than others, and also sometimes what you expect to work well doesn’t work at all and something you think is pointless can work very well.

What you need to consider is whatever form of advertising you decide to utilise if it reaches your customer and they come to your restaurant because of it, then it is a success. How are you going to advertise your restaurant to prospective customers? How you send your message means the media of the advertisement, this is how your advert is presented. The types of format you can consider for your restaurant depend upon how much money you can afford to spend, but the main ways you can advertise are:

The Internet.
Direct Mailing.
In House Advertising.
Word of Mouth (uncontrolled).

There are positive and negative aspects associated to each type of media, so you should chose one that is best suited to reaching your target market. Seeing as though your target market will most likely be local, you should avoid costly advertisements with media that covers a very wide area such as TV, national newspapers or national radio. The best types of media to use for a local restaurant are:

Local Radio.
The Internet.
Local Newspapers.
Direct Mailing.
In House Advertising.

Please note that although sponsorships provide good public relations they are not always the most cost effective medium for a restaurant. Word of mouth will happen regardless of whether you want it to our not, the best way to get positive comments about your restaurant is to offer good value for money and good customer service and care.

Local Radio.
This will be expensive, although the service you receive with local radio advertising is generally rather good.

The Internet.
These days most businesses have a website and this allows your customers to view all of the information relating to your business, your offers, your ethics and also opening hours. Some restaurants even have an online booking system in place so their customers can make reservations. Websites are expensive to set up but after that they are reasonable to maintain. Let us not underestimate the power of social networking websites like Facebook, it is very good practice to set your business up a page on Facebook.

Local Newspapers.
There are many methods of advertising in the local newspaper, these are inserts (your menu is included in the paper), editorials, press releases or advertisements in the classifieds. For information on the services available and the price you should contact your local newspaper for details.

Direct Mailing.
This is a way to distribute your menu or leaflet direct to people’s homes, although most people do not appreciate direct mail, and they just throw it away, there is also some legislation related to direct mailing(for more information contact the Direct Marketing Association or the Department of Trade and Industry).

In House Advertising.
This is when you use your own building to promote your products. It is handy if you are in a busy area and have a lot of people pass by your restaurant. You would display your menu, offers or special promotions where passers by and customers can notice them.

What promotions are you going to run?
Promotions can be a simple yet very effective method of attracting your customer’s interest in your restaurant. You may be surprised at the different offers you can run to attract customers. We are going to detail the ones we feel work best and how to go about them:

This is a great incentive for your customers, although it is not so great for your profit margin, however if you only make the offer available on the ‘cheaper’ items on your menu then the cost to you is kept to a minimum. A lot of restaurants have taken to this offer for their customers.

This is a very good offer for families with young children, or just people who are tight and want a cheap dinner! The aim of this promotion is to offer people a reduced menu at a reduced price early in the evening, say 5pm until 6pm to increase sales during the quiet period.

You probably reacted with a ‘what the hell?’ but table renting is quite an ingenious way of attracting customers to your restaurant, what you do is have a set night to run the promotion (preferably a quiet night) and offer your customers the chance to rent a table for a set price (say £20), the idea is that you offer a set menu for their ‘rent’ you could have a choice of 2 starters, 2 mains and coffee. All you have to do is ensure you have a good turnover of customers and that you up sell your drinks at full prices.

This is when you invite people for a free meal. Ideally you invite the people who influence the opinions of others such as journalists, local politicians, radio presenters etc, and in turn they say good things about your restaurant to other people, increasing your reputation.

Restaurant Advertising Tips.

This section is dedicated to the tips of writing effective advertisements. A good advert will:

Grab the ATTENTION of the reader.
It will keep the INTEREST of the reader.
It will make the reader WANT your product.
It will prompt your reader to SEEK your product.

So your advert grabs the attention of the reader, they are interested in what your advert says, the information in your add keeps their attention until they get to the part that is of particular benefit to them e.g. the offer or promotion so they now want your product, now the customer has to seek you out, they have to book a table or come to your restaurant. When writing or designing an advert you must remember the following points:

If the purpose of your add is the offer then it should be the most prominent item on your add, this grabs the immediate attention of the reader.
Your advert should be easy to read, don’t include any irrelevant information, and get straight to the point.
Keep your adverts simple to read, don’t make the lettering fancy or have an elaborate background, this can distract the reader from the message you are trying to send.
Involve the reader in the advert; use second person descriptions (you, your and yours).

This guide has hopefully provided you with all the information you need to get your restaurant noticed by the right people and for you to advertise your restaurant in the right places. We have given you ideas on attracting customers and increasing your turnover, so what you waiting for? Get your head down and start planning your marketing strategy!

Restaurant Marketing, the first part of our restaurant marketing feature can be found here.