A Practical Guide to Determining Your Restaurant Marketing Budget

A Practical Guide to Determining Your Restaurant Marketing Budget

All restaurants need a marketing and advertising plan to cope with fierce competition. You may be aware of this but not of the specifics of how to budget for your restaurant marketing plan, which, for many restaurateurs, can be the final piece of the puzzle.

On average, new restaurants spend 7 – 10 percent of sales on marketing and advertising. That doesn’t mean you should too. Your marketing budget can vary depending on how you operate, your location, and your marketing objectives. 

Rather than point you to a one-size-fits-all solution, this guide walks you through the process of creating a customized marketing budget for your restaurant.

Write Down Your Marketing Objectives

A good marketing plan is based on a goal or series of goals. For the most part, you will be looking to increase brand awareness or revenue. It helps to boil down your objectives into really specific bullets, such as the following:

  • Initiating first-time visits
  • Boosting repeat visits
  • Generating brand awareness
  • Promoting a new menu item
  • Increasing how much patrons spend on average
  • Getting your customers to order online
  • Collecting emails for your marketing list

Write down every marketing objective you can think of but pick only three to start with. It’s okay to table less important marketing goals for now.

Allocate Your Marketing Budget

Prioritizing the objectives that produce real results tells you how to divvy up your marketing budget. 

Consider using the 70/20/10 model to avoid limiting your options. The bulk of your budget, 70 percent, goes to tried and tested marketing tactics. These methods have been proven to work and bring the most results. 

10 percent goes to experimental marketing tactics. These tactics might not have a significant return on investment but are nevertheless important to test. 

The remaining 20 percent goes to the experimental tactics that you eventually adopt into your marketing strategy or expanding the advertising initiatives you find to be most profitable. In essence, this portion goes towards building new and effective marketing tactics based on what you’ve tested.

Orchestrated correctly, this model can be highly efficient regardless of the size of your budget. It allows you to invest heavily in the most effective marketing channels while continually testing and implementing initiatives that end up profitable.

Create a Marketing Calendar

To experience marketing success, you have to come up with a plan. Expanding restaurants usually have a 52-week marketing calendar guiding their moves, but it’s not uncommon for restaurants to first start with three or six-month plans.

The goal is to have a clear outline of what you’ll spend your marketing budget on in advance. That eliminates undue pressure to adopt strategies because your competitors are and allows you to peek into the expected timeline of any marketing campaign.

In your first year of operation, some of the marketing items and events you may be tempted to deploy include:

  • Seasonal restaurant promotions (such as on holidays and local events)
  • Grand opening and press releases
  • Launching new menu items
  • Launching a loyalty program

Of course, you can do a lot more to achieve various marketing objectives, including leveraging digital technology when scheduling your marketing timetable.

A tip that’s usually helpful is keeping a reserve of marketing funds at all times. When you have a marketing fund reserve, you have leeway to spend opportunistically should the need for it arise.

There’s no question that the restaurant industry is as competitive as it is fast-paced. Emerging trends often set the tone for many seasonal and long-term marketing campaigns, so as much as you should stick to your tailor-made marketing plan, you should also be ready to capitalize on any changes to the landscape.

Assess What You Need to Build Awareness

All forms of marketing generally target awareness. Awareness helps you attract more customers and sell more menu items, but it’s often fleeting, and therefore generating awareness is a constant process.

Start by checking off this list of basic advertising items. Make sure that your restaurant has:

  • A memorable logo Design
  • An attractive menu design
  • Branded or themed interior design graphics
  • An on-brand order board design
  • Mobile-friendly website design

Remember, spending on one or two marketing initiatives is not wise. Distribute your restaurant marketing budget equally among the available mediums, but don’t spread yourself too thin either.

You’ll find the balance by revisiting your objectives and speaking to a digital agency about the costs associated with the marketing mediums you intend to use. Asking for professional advice may initially cost you, but it helps you avoid mistakes that use both time and money.

The right marketing mix is entirely dependent on your restaurant’s current situation. If you take the time to understand your objectives, allocate your budget appropriately, and stick to a pre-defined marketing calendar, it is possible to create a very effective restaurant marketing budget.

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