Any successful restaurant venture requires a well-thought-out marketing plan – it’s something you should have in place before you start any marketing initiatives. When creating your restaurant’s marketing plan, you’ll need to bear lots of things in mind, such as your budget and competitors. But most importantly, your target market has to be #1 front of mind.
When you get down to it, marketing is all about behavioural psychology. This is why it’s so important for restaurant owners to understand who their target market is, what their values and tastes are, and how they spend their money. Let’s dive into why knowing your target market is essential for your restaurant’s marketing plan – and some examples of how to map this out.
What should a restaurant marketing plan cover?
Simply put, your restaurant marketing plan will describe how you’re going to promote your brand and acquire new customers. It shouldn’t just be a vague, general strategy – your plan should include:
- A specific timeframe – your first marketing plan might focus on your first 6 months of business
- Measurable goals that you can realistically achieve within a stated timeframe
- Content planning – what kinds of promotions and messaging you’ll be carrying out, on what platforms, and when
- Thorough budgeting for all your marketing activities
- Research into the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors
Your target market will inform pretty much every aspect of your restaurant marketing strategy. All your advertising materials (such as online ad campaigns, print media and collaborations with other businesses) must be tailored specifically to the type of customer your restaurant wants to reach. Your strongest competitors will be top of the list when your target market chooses a place to eat – that is, until your restaurant comes along!
This is why having a clear target market is so important – the more specific, the better. When your marketing speaks to your target audience really well, you can improve both your sales and customer loyalty in the long term.
Identifying your target market
Your target market is the group of people that you want to reach with your restaurant’s marketing efforts. Once you’ve identified who you want filling the seats of your restaurant, it becomes much easier to tailor your messaging and communications to them.
For best results, be as specific as possible when identifying your dream target customer. Think about what they like and dislike, what their daily routines are, what motivates them and how you can best reach them. A common strategy is to actually build a profile of a fictional person – right down to their habits, needs, goals and technology. Here’s an example of a target market profile for an upmarket café:
Siobhan, 34: the upper-middle-class millennial mum
- Is mindful to eat healthily, but isn’t strict
- Is trying to cut down on meat consumption
- Enjoys having brunch with friends to catch up
- Eats out about twice a week
- To find a café that reflects her and her friends’ tastes and values
- To feel comfortable in a child-friendly space
- To feed herself and her child healthy, nourishing food
- Quality coffee
- To have a smaller carbon footprint
- To know exactly where all her family’s food comes from
- To get her child to try new things
- To see her friends more often
- Mobile-first, has an iPhone
- Highly active on social media (Instagram, Twitter and Facebook)
- Likes to post her meals to her Instagram story
- Follows lifestyle influencers who cover fitness, parenting and healthy eating
Thinking about behaviours
Once you have identified who you’re targeting with your restaurant marketing strategies, the next step is to think about their behaviour and preferences when dining out. Are they prioritising value, convenience or quality? Are they typically eating out with a partner, alone or with friends? What type of restaurants do they usually frequent? And crucially – how do they choose where to eat?
Understanding these things will help you tailor campaigns towards an audience that want what you have to offer. For example, if people in your target market prioritise convenience, then focusing on promoting delivery services could be beneficial for reaching them.
Example: Siobhan, 34
The upper-middle-class millennial mum
Let’s take our earlier example of Siobhan (the target market profile of an upmarket café), and generate some restaurant marketing ideas based on her values and behaviours. This isn’t a complete restaurant marketing plan, but brainstorming ideas like this is a great place to start!
- Siobhan is very active on social media, particularly Instagram, and follows a variety of influencers. Collaborating with the right influencers (ideally a foodie mum who lives in Siobhan’s city) could create really effective ad content. The influencer could be hired to visit the café, have a meal and rate it positively – then create an Instagram Collab post.
- Facebook and Instagram retargeting will generally be the best way to reach Siobhan, who doesn’t read much print media or watch much TV. It’s also a cheaper tactic than buying other kinds of ad space.
- Appearances are important to Siobhan – she likes to post her meals on social media, and she wants to take her friends to a place that reflects her tastes and values and those of her friends. Having appetising, healthy-looking plates – and good photography of them – is essential. Soup and sandwiches won’t cut it with Siobhan – she’ll be looking for interesting, vegetable-forward meals that offer more gastronomic sophistication.
- A child’s menu that offers child-friendly, but healthy meals could be a very effective thing to promote with Siobhan. She needs to know that the café will welcome children and cater to their needs, but offer wholesome food for them at the same time.
Example: Jack, 19
The Gen-Z student on a budget
This target market profile is for an affordable sandwich van near to a university campus. Here are some ways this business could market their business to someone like Jack:
- The main things this sandwich van offers to Jack are value and convenience – and it needs to make sure that these are front and centre. Stating their pricing on all promotional material (e.g. ‘sarnies starting from £x’), and their location on campus, is essential.
- Jack spends a lot of time on social media (TikTok and Instagram), so social media marketing (and simply having active accounts) is a great way to reach him and keep him interested.
- Leafleting the local student halls is the perfect way to reach the van’s target market – especially if the leaflets have some kind of coupon (e.g. £1 off a sandwich or a free hot drink). The flyers should clearly show where the van trades from and when.
- Having a weekly or daily special sandwich on their Instagram story gives Jack a reason to follow the sandwich van’s social media accounts – and also keeps the menu items from being too samey. Social media can also keep customers informed of the van’s location if it has to move around, and advertise flash promotions that students will love.
- Gen-Z is the generation most likely to give up meat, so it’s important that the van offers tasty vegan and vegetarian options – and proudly promotes this.
Example: Sofía, 27
The tech-savvy tourist
This target market profile is for a British restaurant operating near a tourist hotspot. It’s not on the main strip, so foot traffic is relatively low – it needs to entice tourists through other channels, and by offering something a little more. Here are some ideas for how this restaurant business can draw in Sofía:
- Sofía is an avid social media user (Instagram and Facebook), so targeted ads are a great way to reach her. It’s essential that posts are in the right language (e.g. Spanish); the restaurant could target multiple tourist groups, or research where the highest volume of tourists come from.
- Travel influencers will be a big inspiration when it comes to planning Sofía’s trip. The restaurant should choose influencers with a Spanish following to review their restaurant – they will understand the culture and create content that will resonate with Sofía.
- When planning a trip, social proof is everything – so as well as influencer endorsements, Sofía will want to see plenty of reviews of the restaurant in her native language. These quotes should be front and centre on ads.
- Other ways to reach travellers is via ads on popular travel websites and apps (e.g. TripAdvisor), as well as travel guides, blogs and hotel booking websites.
- To make the restaurant more of a destination, it needs to offer something special compared to other more convenient locations. A taster menu of ‘authentic British dishes most tourists don’t know about’ offers an intriguing point of difference that speaks directly to Sofía. Or a free drink for anyone with tickets to see the nearby attraction could be an effective draw too.
- Being clear about where the restaurant is in relation to the nearby tourist attraction is essential in all communications, to prevent customers from being hooked by other eateries.
When it comes to developing an effective restaurant marketing plan, having a detailed understanding of your target market and their behaviours is absolutely essential. The more specific you can be, from their age and spending habits right down to their tastes, the better. Because then, you’ll understand exactly how to reach them.
The restaurant industry is competitive. But when your brand’s messaging really resonates with the diners you want, that’s when they’ll choose your establishment over another one down the street. Know your target market inside-out, and you’ll be able to build an effective marketing strategy tailored specifically to them. Then, all that’s left is to give them a great experience – which is when patrons turn into loyal customers!
Are you a restaurant owner struggling to identify who your target market should be? Or do you know who you want to reach, but not sure how? With rising energy and food costs, it’s never been more essential to invest in effective marketing. We can help boost your restaurant’s gross profit and customer retention rate.Book your free, no-obligation call with our expert team today.
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