Every restaurant needs a marketing plan. Restaurant Consultant, Restaurant Expert Witness, and CEO, Howard Cannon provides five key rules for the new restaurant owner to help them get that plan started and says, “It all comes down to this: Let them know you exist; Get your customers talking about you; Keep your messages short, clear, and to-the-point; Make up your mind whether or not you want to do the community involvement routine; and finally, Start right."
To create that marketing plan, get information about current customers and/or target customers. Collecting market research takes a lot of time and effort, and can’t be done over a weekend; but, it can be done. A little more detail on those five key rules can help a start-up restaurant compete immediately for sales, even without a big marketing budget. And, they can help formulate a marketing plan, decide on a marketing budget, and create brilliant marketing campaigns.
Let Them Know You Exist, Rule Number One. Cannon says, "Be memorable. McDonald’s and other restaurants aren’t giving away even one sale without some advertisement to argue the customer away from you. A ton of competition is reaching the consumer with a message a minute. To stand out from the crowd, you need to be different, unique, strange, funny, noticeable, bright, crazy, and more, if necessary. But mostly, be memorable."
Get Your Customers Talking About You, Rule Number Two. "The best form of advertising for any restaurant is word of mouth," states Cannon.
Keep Messages Short, Clear, and to the Point, Rule Number Three. "The average consumer sees thousands of marketing messages and logos in a given day," Cannon explains, adding, "Americans have become desensitized because of so many advertisements. You don’t need complicated messages. You need messages that are short, clear, and to the point."
Community Involvement: Own It or Forget It, Rule Number Four. Cannon believes if being a good community partner is important for the restaurateur (and it should be for every business), then they need to "own it or forget it", elaborating, "Pick some program, charity, institution, or group that you believe in and are committed to helping and then deliver. Leave your mark. Make a difference. Don’t be just a part of something that makes you one of dozens of sponsors. You are better off being the main or only sponsor of something else. No one remembers the businesses that simply sponsor things, but they do remember the business and the leader who makes an impact on something important in the community."
Start Right, Rule Number Five. Marketing starts early, way before the Grand Opening. Cannon says, "Write down your marketing goals. Formulate a plan. Build action steps. Then execute the plan. It's best to get professional help to create a marketing plan and build the appropriate action steps. Marketing is a very tricky game. It's worth every penny to find a firm or an individual who has played the game in the restaurant industry many times before. And, remember, your successful competitors know how to market themselves. If you want success, you'd better be doing some smart marketing."
Howard Cannon is a highly-recognized restaurant expert witness, consultant, analyst, and speaker. He is the author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Starting a Restaurant© - found in 76 countries around the globe. Mr. Cannon is the CEO of Restaurant Consultants of America and Restaurant Expert Witness, and can be reached at 800-300-5764 or via the web at RestaurantConsultantsOfAmerica.com or RestaurantExpertWitness.com.