2nd –year student,
sp.”Management of catering establishments”
Scientific adviser – Ilyuk T.I.
Chernivtsi Trade and Economics Institute
RESTAURANT MARKETING STRATEGY
Restaurant marketing is a way for food establishments to communicate what they have to offer customers. It’s a way to entice interest in the restaurant by describing the unique features of the menu, service, and atmosphere.
“Marketing is big because it is about awareness,” says Daniel Drumlake, assistant Culinary director at The International Culinary School at The Art Institute of California — Los Angeles. “It is about brand awareness and marketing position and the uniqueness of concepts needs to match with a particular audience.” Advancements in communications and technology have made restaurant marketing efforts more centered on target audiences.
As with any business, restaurant marketing requires that operators look at product, price, place, and promotion. However, the food service business is fast paced and ever changing, so restaurateurs have to stay on their toes.
“Making sure to carve the time out needed to develop a strong social media strategy is the first stumbling block, then investing the time to learn the applications and marketing strategies is the next challenge,” says Madonna Kash, a restaurant and food service marketer. “But like everything else, restaurateurs have to learn about being a successful operator; it just takes time.”
Restaurant marketing strategies should begin with research and knowing the target audience. “You can promote things all you want but if the messages aren’t reaching your core customers, it’s not effective,” says Annika Stensson, director of media relations at the National Restaurant Association. “To determine who those customers are, you need to know your market. For example, tourists would be a core customer group for a restaurant in South Beach, Florida, while a restaurant in a small town in Iowa would likely draw its repeat guests from local clientele.”
Many restaurants are looking to not only attract new customers, but also keep existing customers coming back for more. This means finding the right marketing mix that communicates to both groups.
“When you are marketing to new customers, you have to show them what you have to offer,” Drumlake says. “With existing customers, you want them to come in more frequently so you constantly remind them of a special product or event at the restaurant.”
The information you gather from your existing customers can help you focus your restaurant marketing efforts only on what works and brings people into the restaurant.
Jose L. Riesco, restaurant marketing consultant and founder of Riesco Consulting Inc., believes many restaurants are wasting money on marketing that is inefficient or outdated. “You place an ad in a newspaper or the Yellow Pages, but you don’t know who is coming into your restaurant based on the ad,” he says. “How do you measure return on investment?”
And in lean economic times, it is especially important for restaurants to be careful with their spending. How much a restaurant should allocate toward marketing expenses varies and depends on a number of factors. According to the National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Industry Operations Report, the median percentage as a ratio to total sales spent on marketing ranges from 1.1% to 2.2%.
Meanwhile, Kash says 3% to 6% of total revenue is the general guideline for marketing expenses for restaurants with tools available today. “Restaurants can really stretch their marketing budget with a focused approach,” she says. “Before any market campaign is implemented, setting ways to measure the success of that campaign should always be outlined.”
With today’s marketing tools and web technology, restaurateurs can apply strategies that are more efficient, affordable, and trackable.
“People search Google, Yelp, Citysearch, and many other sites for restaurant reviews and today social media is very important for restaurants,” Riesco says.
Kash says although more people are turning to the internet, the same principles of marketing apply. “The general medium is the same: written, audio, and visual content,” she says. “Only the delivery vehicle has changed.”For example, web marketing campaigns can still focus on particular geographic locations like they do in a newspaper or phone directory ads.
Location-based marketing tools such as Yelp, Foursquare, and Google Places are opportunities for restaurants to capture their potential customers who are within miles of their restaurant using their smartphones to find a place to eat, according to Kash.
“Mobile websites are becoming more popular and more of a necessity,” she says. “Operators need to make sure their restaurants’ websites are optimized for mobile search as well. Phone number, address, and menu needs to be easy to read and use with the touch of a thumb.”
Restaurant websites in general should provide the basic information customers are looking for and be designed in a way that is easy for users to read and navigate, sources say. “When you go to restaurant website, you are looking for where they are located, their menu, hours of operation, and sometimes a place to make reservations,” Riesco says. “These are basic things, but they have to be well executed and updated regularly,” Kash agrees.
While a strong web presence can be a critical ingredient in a marketing strategy, word-of-mouth referrals are still considered the number one form of restaurant marketing. In fact, web marketing supports the personal conversations we have about restaurants.
“One thing that will never change is word-of-mouth marketing, which emphasizes the importance of customer experience,” Kash says. “It’s a timeless marketing tool.”
Customer satisfaction and loyalty is a huge driver of marketing success and restaurants must continue to concentrate on their core business of offering quality food and service.
List of the Literature Sources:
1. Keane L. International Restaurant English. – Cambridge, 2002.
2. Robert F.Keith, “The Marketing Revolution”, Journal of Marketing (January 2004), pp.35-38.