Marketing is an essential tool to make a business succeed as it helps you to reach your potential customers and make connections with them, which ultimately affects the capability to grow your business.
Good marketing starts with an effective marketing strategy with clear, realistic, and measurable marketing goals, as well as strong market research and planning before the execution.
This blog aims to help small restaurants to define SMART marketing goals, do proper market research and planning, and ultimately create an effective marketing strategy.
Define Your Marketing Goals
The first step is to define clear, realistic, and measurable marketing goals, which also need to align with your business goals. For example, if your restaurant aims to increase profit within your target market, then your marketing goal should focus on building strong and long-term connections with existing customers to increase customer value.
On the other hand, if you want to expand the business and reach out to more potential customers, you should focus on increasing your restaurant’s exposure and brand awareness to as many people as possible within your target market.
SMART goals are recommended to make proper marketing objectives.
- Specific: the goals are clearly outlined and as precise as possible.
- Measurable: set the metrics to track and determine the success or failure of your campaign.
- Attainable: make sure your goals are realistic and achievable.
- Relevant: the campaign goals are related to your business objectives.
- Timely: determine a realistic deadline to help track the progress.
Research Your Market
General information about the market like market size, growth, and demographics (Age, Gender, Family types, Income, and Jobs) is essential to briefly understand and identify your target market, while the information is generally accessible online.
After that, you should also try to gain insights from your customers including their purchase behavior, thoughts about your food and service, and current trends within the restaurant and catering industry. Reading online reviews and using feedback cards can be the most cost-effective methods for small restaurants to understand how your customers think about your restaurant, what you have done well, and what can be improved.
Understanding your competitors is also a crucial part of market research. On top of using the standard SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) to study your competitors, it would also be nice to consider the following factors while doing your competitor research:
- Food type and food quality
- Target Market (male, female, young, old, etc.)
- Operating hours
- Number of customers in each period (morning, afternoon, night)
- Service quality
- Online presence (social media, websites, blogs, etc.)
If you are interested in going deeper into market research, here is a small but good tip: use qualitative research (smaller sample size but can ask deeper and more complicated questions) first to gain insights from your target market, and then test the insights you gained with quantitative research (larger sample size, good for confirming your ideas).
Interviews and focus groups are the most common and recommended types of qualitative research for small businesses, as they are cost-effective. While for quantitative research, we can either borrow the power of the internet to hold online surveys or polls, or simply use feedback cards in your restaurant with a series of well-designed questions based on the insights you gained from the qualitative research.
Profile Your Customers & Competitors
After studying and understanding more about the market, your customers, and your competitors through the market research, it is important to classify them into different categories or levels to find out your target market and main competitors. Your target market should have the largest number in: Average spending per customer X Number of customers in the group.
While your main competitors should be the ones that have strong performance with the most overlapping characteristics (food type, food quality, target market, etc.), which are listed in the previous section.
Profiling your customers can help you identify the main target group of customers you should focus on. For instance, if your target market is female millennial office workers who visit your restaurant at night due to your location and food quality, then you can offer extra inducements for them to spend more or be loyal to your brand, such as providing them a relaxed environment, different types of alcoholic beverages, or to modify the menu for them based on their feedbacks.
Profiling your competitors allows you to study and figure out the key factors of success and failure for restaurants that are similar to yours. For example, the availability of delivery through apps is considered one of the key success factors in the current COVID-19 situation.
Understand & Promote Your Restaurants With 7Ps Marketing Mix Strategy
The 7Ps marketing mix strategy for a restaurant are:
- Product: high-quality food; or unique food that cannot be found in other places.
- Price: low price strategy to attract as many customers as possible to buy your food; or high-priced high-quality food for better profit margin; or a balance between.
- Place: easy access for customers; good distribution channels for delivering food and materials.
- Promotion: depends on your brand and target audience (discussed in the paragraph).
- People: employees who can provide excellent customer service; employees who can make delicious cuisine.
- Process: efficiency of the business from gathering the materials to making the dishes to delivering them to customers with consistent food and service quality.
- Physical evidence: physical environment, interior design, atmosphere, food packaging, uniform, food in plates.
There are various approaches in promotion from discounts, coupons, and bundles to traditional and digital advertising. In this case, non-advertising promotions are not discussed since they are only effective in boosting short-term sales, but not helpful in building your own brand and increasing brand awareness.
Traditional media like TV, billboards, and newspapers are also not covered because of the existence of digital marketing that has better reach, easier tracking and measurement process, and significantly lower cost.
Effective digital marketing strategy can be achieved with a well-designed website (better if consistent with physical evidence like your restaurant’s interior design, atmosphere, and etc.), active social media accounts with interesting posts, educative and easy to understand blogs, search engine optimization (SEO), and most importantly, user-generated content to create Word Of Mouth (WOM), which is the most effective method to quickly increase your brand awareness with minimal costs. In fact, people are 65% more likely to buy a product after engaging with the community of customers and experts (which can be achieved through user-generated content).
In order to make people generate content for your restaurants, you need to create trust. People need to trust that your food, service, atmosphere, and brand are reliable and trustworthy. Social media in this case can be a very powerful tool to help you send important messages and build strong connections with your target audience.
Effective content creation for both video and image forms of advertisement requires 3 key elements:
- Compelling: attention grabbing with good visuals, colors, animations, sounds, or enticing headlines.
- Message: clearly express the benefits of your product or brand value, and actions you want your target audience to do.
- Branding: the message is branded and able to clearly differentiate your brand from others.
The first step is to let your target audience pay attention and arouse their interest in what you are going to say. You can use a lot of creative visuals, animations, or sounds with vivid colors to quickly grab their attention. However, in the next stage, you need to express your branded message properly and clearly with minimum distractions to prevent your target audience from focusing and comprehending the important message you want them to know.
For image content, the message needs to be big, clear, and easy to understand for people at first glance. For video content, the music, colors, and animations need to be less distracting, or you can even use pauses and silences to inform people that “I am going to say something important”.
Finally, the message needs to be branded, which means the message is unique, so people don’t confuse the important and strong message from your brand with others. This can be the hardest part since the message requires to be both important and branded at the same time.
Test & Evaluate Different Combinations
Small restaurants have limited resources, so it is suggested to try different combinations of 7Ps marketing mix strategies to see which one works the best for your brand and business, but don’t forget that Promotion is always the most important P to include in your marketing strategy.
If you are interested in digital marketing and urge to know more about it, please go visit the official website of International Institute of Digital Marketing™: https://thedigitalmarketinginstitute.org/