Why Marketing Should Always Be Part of Your Restaurant's Budget

    Growth or not, your marketing budget should not be expendable.

    Laptops open on a table.
    Unsplash/Marvin Meyer
    Get the ball rolling by picking the best platforms for your restaurant and launching your marketing program.

    Running a quick-service restaurant requires a host of challenges and expenses, but marketing should always be factored into the budget.

    As you know, gaining a foothold in the restaurant industry is no small feat. Starting a brand from scratch is a high-risk proposition and the odds are stacked against you. Approximately 61 percent of independent restaurants close their doors within the first three years. The impact of COVID-19, labor shortages, and supply chain issues are upping the ante and taking a toll on the restaurant industry. Yet, achieving success is not out of reach. In order for your quick-service brand to thrive, you’ll need quality food, superior service, and a robust marketing strategy to build a loyal customer base.

    Build a Successful Omnichannel Marketing Strategy

    My company, Our Town America, has 50 years of experience helping local businesses build a loyal customer base. Over the years, we’ve learned some strategies to help restaurant operators develop multichannel marketing strategies that boost sales. Once you’ve nailed down your location, menu, and attracted the talent you need to provide a stellar customer experience, here’s what you should do to get customers to take notice.

    Define Marketing Goals. Get started by putting pen to paper and determine goals for your marketing strategy. Your marketing goals should mirror your business goals. Some examples of marketing goals may be to build a loyal customer base, increase customer value and raise brand awareness.

    Conduct Market Research. Once you understand your marketing goals, it’s essential to research the competition and learn industry trends. See how your business measures up. Identify your strengths to help hone your focus. For example, if the quick-serves in your area are doing a booming drive-thru or curbside pick-up service, it may be an important component of your brand to highlight.

    Set a Budget. Industry experts recommend shelling out at least 3 percent of your sales on marketing. Use your market research to help you determine how to allocate your marketing budget.

    Go. Get the ball rolling by picking the best platforms for your restaurant and launching your marketing program. Make sure to revisit your strategy on a regular basis to determine what platforms deliver the best results.

    Unique Platforms for Restaurants

    As your restaurant gains a strong foothold in the local community and builds a loyal customer base, it’s important not to shirk your spending on marketing. If your restaurant is going through a rough patch, your first instinct will be to cut costs, which may include advertising. But your marketing budget is not expendable. In fact, having a concrete marketing strategy is key to weathering a difficult period. The good news is there are alternatives to expensive television ads. Here are some affordable platforms to consider to help attract diners.

    Video Marketing. Businesses are raising brand awareness by including short-form videos as part of their social media efforts. Filming quality videos no longer requires a camera crew and director. Smartphones make it easy to capture a quick video to draw attention to your restaurant. Whether it’s filming one of your cooks making a new burger or alerting people to a special deal, video is an inexpensive way to get the job done. At least 81 percent of marketers believe video has a positive impact on sales, according to a survey conducted by Wyzowl, a video marketer.

    Location-Based Marketing. Smartphones allow businesses to reach customers in real-time. Geotargeting can help you turn nearby drivers into regular customers by alerting them to your quick-serve’s location while they are on the road. Google search results use location-based marketing to help people find nearby restaurants or businesses.

    New Mover Marketing. Despite all of the new marketing tools at your fingertips, employing a sound direct mail marketing strategy remains a highly effective customer acquisition tool. New mover marketing welcomes new residents to the neighborhood with an upscale package filled with proven one-time offers for local businesses. It captures new residents before they form loyalties to your competitors. Perceived as pure hospitality by new residents, it leaves a lasting impression and is a welcome relief as they unpack boxes and adjust to their new surroundings.

    Whether you are launching a new restaurant or you’ve been in business for years, taking the reins of your career as an entrepreneur is rewarding. As you continue to invest in your business, remember to pay special attention to your marketing efforts.

    After serving our country as a US Army Medic, Michael Plummer, Jr. returned to the family business (Our Town America, the nation's premier New Mover Marketing franchise started by his father in 1972) in 2001 to work in the IT department. 15+ years later, Plummer now leads the business as its CEO and CTO—using his extensive technology/data experience to make Our Town America the savviest analytical player in the industry