If you are planning to start a restaurant business, you will need to write a detailed marketing plan before you open your doors for business. Since marketing is key to the success of your business, it is worth planning well. This article is a follow up of the in-depth guide to starting a restaurant business.

Now successful restaurant owners know that coming up with creative marketing ideas for a restaurant is a futile effort, if you don’t have a marketing plan and an execution strategy. This write-up will focus on the intricacies of developing a restaurant marketing plan. However, I advice you read the “Ultimate Guide to Writing a Marketing Plan for a Startup” for deeper understanding.

Having a marketing plan is very important because it will help you figure out where to focus your resources—time, money, and energy—during your marketing campaign. So, without a marketing plan, your marketing efforts can go down the drain, and your business can fail in the long run.

Writing a marketing plan for your restaurant business might seem intimidating at first. But the process is really manageable and can even be inspiring, as it will help you visualize your goals, identify your limitations, and capitalize on your strengths. Below are the steps involved in writing a good marketing plan for your restaurant business:

Writing a Marketing Plan for a Restaurant – A Sample Template

1. Define your offers

Referring back to your business plan, it is important that you make a list of the food and drink options as well as other services that your restaurant will offer. You want to be sure that you really have what it takes to provide those offers. Here’s a sample restaurant business plan template you can use for FREE.

Evaluate each item on your list. Is there really a market for that offer? Would you be able to continue providing that offer for a long time provided the demand is constantly high? These and many other questions about your offers should be raised and answered. This step will not only help you determine your target market, but it will also help you figure out how to needed your offers are.

2. Define your ideal customer

Based on the offers that your restaurant will provide (foods, drinks, services, and so on), you will need to define your ideal customers in terms of demographic data (age, sex, location, etc) and interests. An easy way to define your ideal customer is to write a customer profile.

Picture your ideal customer as an individual standing right in front of you and write down a description of that individual as well as what makes your business a good match for that individual’s needs. While it could be tempting to state that your business targets “everyone,” this, in reality, is not possible. You will quickly exhaust your resources if you attempt to reach everyone, and you still won’t achieve your goals.

3. Conduct a SWOT analysis

This step involves an analysis of major competitors and the market as a whole. You need to find out more about your competitors and write down a description of each of them based on size, quality of service, growth, image or reputation, marketing strategy, target markets, and other factors that influence revenues. Make sure to look at these factors for your restaurant, too.

You want to see if there are areas where you are stronger or weaker than your competitors. Having described your competitors in detail, you will need to state your restaurant’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT). Your strengths are the areas in which your restaurant is better than others—for example, effectiveness of staff, reputation, and so on.

Your weaknesses are those areas in which your restaurant has limitations that must be improved upon—for example, restaurant reputation, flexibility of staff, and so on. Your opportunities are those factors that can help your business, such as a huge market. And your threats are those factors that are harmful to your business, such as competition.

4. Define your marketing goals

Your marketing goals are the results you want to achieve with your marketing campaign. An example of such would be “To recover at least 80% of startup capital by the end of the first year.” Here is a sample restaurant marketing plan template you can use for FREE.

However, you must bear in mind that your goal must meet five conditions; it must be specific, measurable, accurate, realistic, and time-bound. In other words, your goals must be very clear, there must be ways to figure out if you are far or close to achieving them, they must be reasonable and achievable with the resources you have, and they must be time-specific.

5. Develop your action plan

Having defined your goals, your next step is to figure out how you will achieve them. Your action plan will detail the steps you will take to achieve your goals. Not only will your action plan state what to do, it will also include who will do what, where it will be done, and when.

Your action plan should also include where you expect to be at different points in time, and what you will do if you have not reached that point by then.

6. Review

Look over your plan, and make necessary adjustments before launching your marketing campaign.