Top 3 Marketing Mistakes Restaurants Make

Restaurants are a risky business. But you’ll have better chances at success by learning how to market yours properly — and avoiding these common marketing mistakes:

1. Failing to set a budget for marketing

The biggest marketing mistake a restaurant can make is not to allocate a budget for marketing at all. According to data from Sageworks, restaurants, and other dining establishments reinvest an average of 1.93% of their revenue into advertising. Of course, this is not a strict figure, and you can opt to allocate a smaller or bigger budget depending on the size of your business.

At the very least, this budget should cover hiring a professional photographer to take high-quality images of your food. The best way to attract potential customers is to give them a taste of your menu, so to speak, through your social media platforms. Remember that Instagram and Facebook are free, so you need to learn how to utilize these channels to your advantage. Posting mouth-watering images of your best dishes is one way to entice more customers and increase sales.

Our ‘How to Boost Restaurant Profits’ infographic also listed websites as one of the top ways to boost sales. So if you have a bigger budget to work with, consider creating and maintaining a website for your restaurant. According to Forbes, a well-designed website for a restaurant should include these seven elements:

• Anchor statement — a statement to reel in your customers (e.g. ‘Best Mexican Restaurant in Los Angeles’)
• Call to action — an instruction for a potential customer (e.g. ‘Order Now,’ ‘Reserve Now’)
• Call buttons — a button that will automatically connect to your hotline
• Directions button — a button that provides directions that are easy to follow
• Google Map embed — similar to a directions button, but it’s also a link that improves your website ranking
• Easy-to-use menu — a copy of your menu that is informative and mobile-friendly
• Social proof — screenshots or links to online reviews and feedback from happy customers

2. Focusing solely on digital advertising

While most of your budget will go to digital advertisements as this cast a wider net, HP explains that print marketing also has a vast potential to boost your business. That’s because it allows you to tap your local community, which is a restaurant’s main target demographic. You want to be known in your area for being the place to satisfy a specific craving, a restaurant to meet up with family and friends, or a location that is quintessential to the community.

When exploring print ads, don’t underestimate the power of local newspapers, magazines, and fliers. Surveys show that 57% of small businesses in the US prefer traditional ads as consumers perceive them to be more ‘trustworthy’ than digital ads. Aside from those three options, you can also increase brand recognition through smart packaging and labeling.

3. Not listing your business online

A third common and crucial mistake is forgetting to list your business online. Google My Business (GMB) is the leading tool in business listings, which is essentially a digital version of the yellow pages. To make your restaurant known online, you need to set up a profile on GMB, and you’ll be listed on local or location-specific searches.

The good news is: It’s not difficult to set up a GMB profile. All you need is a physical location, and you can include essential information about your restaurant, such as your contact details, operating hours, and an address.

These three restaurant marketing mistakes are entirely avoidable. No matter the size of your establishment, steer clear these errors at all costs, and improve your business’ chances at success.


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