marketing plan for a new restaurant
by Laura-Andreea Voicu

Are you planning to open a new restaurant? Then you need a bulletproof marketing plan that will help you spread the word and guide you through your first days and months as a new restaurateur.

Below, we have prepared a 7-step marketing plan for a new restaurant, from goals and objectives to social media and reviews.

Why You Need a Marketing Plan for Your Restaurant Opening

The success of your restaurant’s grand opening will set the tone for your popularity and long-term profitability. This should not be treated lightly.

As such, you need a well-thought-out marketing plan that ensures:

  • Nothing slips through the cracks: It’s easy to get overwhelmed when you’re planning a restaurant opening. Put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) well in advance to ensure you don’t wake up on the big day realizing you forgot something major.
  • You control how customers see you: Don’t leave it up to chance. Think about your brand identity and what you want your restaurant to be when creating a marketing plan for a new restaurant.
  • Media and customers alike are excited to visit: How and where you promote your new restaurant dictates who will come to your grand opening. Invite local media and influencers and tempt customers with discounts and surprises on the day.

7-Step Marketing Plan for a New Restaurant

The promotion strategy for your restaurant opening should start long before you open your doors to the public. Let’s look at the 7 key aspects of your new restaurant marketing plan.

Step 1: Set your restaurant marketing objectives and goals

The most effective restaurant marketing plan is based on achievable and quantifiable goals that will keep you motivated and on track.

When setting restaurant goals, think SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely.

Here are some examples of SMART goals for restaurants planning an opening:

  • Social media awareness and engagement: Get 100 page likes/follows, 50 post likes, 20 comments, and 10 reshares on all social media platforms.
  • Website visits and conversions: Get 100 website visits and 25 online orders on your website. Use our free online ordering system to accept orders and easily track visits, sales, and other restaurant analytics in the reporting module.
  • Table reservations: Get 20 table reservations for the grand opening (the goal will vary depending on your restaurant’s capacity). Use our free table reservation system to accept bookings directly on your website.

These are short-term marketing goals to help you kickstart your restaurant’s journey. But you should also think long-term when creating your marketing plan. Here are some long-term goals for a restaurant at the beginning of the road:

  • Get quality customer feedback
  • Grow your social media following
  • Increase customer retention
  • Increase website traffic for online ordering
  • Boost the average check/order value

Step 2: Create a marketing budget plan

Opening a new restaurant requires a big investment, and you can’t spend your entire budget on marketing. That said, you need to create a marketing budget plan for your restaurant, to see how much you can afford to invest in marketing.

Once you’re aware of your goals and the marketing tools you’d like to use, settle on a marketing budget. Generally, this shouldn’t exceed 6% of your sales.

Once your restaurant has been around for a while, consider using the 70/20/10 marketing budget method. 70% of your budget can go to conventional marketing, 10% to new marketing methods, and the other 20% to tried-and-tested methods that have worked in the past.

Step 3: Use your website to promote your restaurant online

One of the best ways to ensure customers will come across your restaurant online is to have your own website. This works wonders for branding, and it can help you attract more customers and boost sales.

For that, you need a website that’s optimized for search engines. For example, your website has to contain relevant local keywords that will help customers find your restaurant when searching for your cuisine in their area. (e.g.: Chinese restaurant in Scranton, Pennsylvania).

Additionally, the website should be responsive so that customers can easily browse it on any device. Placing orders online should also be a breeze, with a highly visible order button and easy checkout.

Get a sales and SEO-optimized restaurant website in minutes Designed to help you sell more without breaking the bank

Hiring a developer to build a restaurant website can eat up a huge chunk if not all of your marketing budget. Sidestep that expense by generating a sales and SEO-optimized website in no more than 10 minutes by following this step-by-step video tutorial:

You should have your restaurant website up and running before the grand opening, so you have time to get people interested by advertising it on your homepage, like this:

How do you market a restaurant opening: on your restaurant website

Step 4: Create a restaurant social media marketing plan

Next to your website, social media is one of the most important aspects of any marketing plan for a new restaurant. That’s how you get the word out and engage with your customers.

The first thing you need to remember about social media is that different platforms attract different customers. Is your target audience older? Post on Facebook. Do you want to attract a younger crowd? Try Instagram and TikTok.

The content should also be different depending on the platform. If Facebook is better for written content and keeping customers up-to-date, Instagram is where you can share mouthwatering photos of your dishes, and TikTok is where you can take customers behind the scenes in short clips.

The best part about social media is that it’s a free marketing channel. It’s free to create a business account and post. If you want to explore paid social media ads on these platforms, you need to factor that into your marketing budget.

Step 5: Offer grand opening discounts and promotions

Offering special discounts and irresistible offers is restaurant marketing 101. As a result, it shouldn’t be absent from any marketing plan for a new restaurant.

It is customary to kickstart your restaurant’s journey with attractive deals that will get people through the doors and make them invite their friends and family too. Then, it’s up to you to woo them with your food.

marketing plan for restaurant example: grand opening discounts

You can also encourage customers to place their first online order by offering a first-order discount or free delivery.

marketing strategy for restaurant sample: first order discount

Use the Kickstarter module integrated into our online ordering system to create and publish a first-buy promo in seconds. Here’s how:

Step 6: Use email marketing to encourage repeat orders

As we’ve mentioned above, one of the main goals of your new restaurant marketing plan is to increase customer retention.

How are you going to convince customers to keep coming back to your restaurant? One, by serving delicious food. Two, by giving them an incentive they can’t resist, like a discount on their next order.

Our automated email marketing templates enable you to set your desired campaigns (encourage second order, re-engage clients, or cart abandonment), and let them run in the background, on Autopilot.

Run your restaurant email marketing on Autopilot Keep customers engaged and motivate them to come back

Customers will receive a series of emails with discounts to remind them why they loved your restaurant in the first place, such as this one:

How do I create a marketing plan for a new restaurant?

Learn more about how you can use Autopilot to increase return visits in the video below:

Step 7: Focus on obtaining positive customer reviews

For the long-term success of your restaurant, you need satisfied customers to leave stellar reviews online. 94% of US restaurant diners make their decisions based on online reviews.

Encourage reviews from day one by leaving QR codes on the tables at the grand opening. Tell customers they can scan them to leave you a review if they’ve enjoyed their meal.

Build your online reputation by encouraging reviews on multiple platforms, from Google Business Profile to Yelp and TripAdvisor.

Don’t forget to reply to all the reviews, particularly the negative ones, to show potential customers that client satisfaction is your utmost priority.

That’s a Wrap

Before opening your doors and enabling online orders, you need to put together a comprehensive marketing plan to help you stay on course and ensure that your launch will be a success. Follow this step-by-step marketing plan for a new restaurant to let customers know you’re opening for business.

photo of GloriaFood blog writer Laura-Andreea Voicu
Laura-Andreea Voicu

Laura-Andreea Voicu is an experienced content writer with a knack for marketing and SEO. She creates guides and resources designed to help restaurants grow their presence online and boost sales.

She has been featured on the Oracle Food and Beverage Blog and wrote for Search Engine Journal, Clutch, Sender, Venngage, Quickbooks, and many more.

Find me on LinkedIn.