The Perfect Restaurant Marketing Plan for the First 90 Days After Opening

New Restaurant Marketing Ideas
The Perfect Restaurant Marketing Plan for the First 90 Days After Opening

Most restaurant marketing plans are too abstract and look too far into the future to be very valuable for new restaurants. When you're just getting started, you need a quick, easy plan that you can put together in less than an hour and execute immediately.

Restaurant marketing is pretty simple. Get people in the door. Get them to order more. And get them to come back.

In this post, we'll share some creative marketing ideas for restaurants and give you a simple but effective 90-day restaurant marketing plan, which you can customize to make it work for your business.

Marketing Ideas for New Restaurants

A Simple Marketing Plan for New Restaurants 

The 90-day restaurant marketing plan below is clear and actionable. No fluff here — just everything you need to get more business over the next three months.

Get People in the Door

If you make great food, the first step is to get people in the door. (If you don't make great food, start there and come back to the whole marketing thing.)

By now, you probably realize that the Field of Dreams-style "build it and they will come" approach won't fill seats. You need a proactive marketing plan.

One of the most powerful levers you can pull is to host special events. These events could be live music, wine tastings, theme nights, sports parties or holiday shindigs.

If you run a Mexican restaurant, consider a Cinco de Mayo celebration with free quesadillas. An Irish Pub? Try a St. Patrick's Day party. If you have TVs, offer specials for the World Cup or the Super Bowl. If yours is an upscale restaurant, close the doors for normal dining once a month and hold wine tastings. If you can get appropriately themed musical talent to perform, you'll give your diners a great experience and bring in some of the musicians' fans as well.

Get Them to Order More

Once you get them in the door, the next way to increase revenue is to get your diners to order more. You'll obviously want to push appetizers, sides, drinks, and desserts to increase your average order value. This could be as simple as making sure the waitstaff recommends favorites to your diners.

Also, consider offering a seasonal item or two which are only available for a limited time. These dishes could be season-themed like pumpkin ravioli for the month of October or pecan pie in December. Or just offer an item for a week or two and let customers know that you're trying out a new dish for a limited time.

Related Reading: 4 Tips for Refreshing Your Restaurant Marketing Efforts

Build Your Marketing Contact List 

One of the most important things you can do to grow your business is to build a contact list of people who love your restaurant. Your fans WANT to know when you're running a special, hosting an event, or offering a new dish.

Decide on the platform that will best serve your customer base, like email, social media or business text messaging, and then launch a campaign to get customers to opt-in to your marketing messages. One way to do this is to let them know that you only send certain promotions to your VIP list. Walk-in diners won't get them.

The Couch Tomato Cafe in Philadelphia used this technique to collect over 5,000 cell numbers in 12 months for the purpose of sending text message coupons and alerts to their fans. When he sent his first coupon, owner Craig Mosmen reported that 70 extra orders came in. With a single text that cost pennies to send, Mosmen brought in over $1,000 in additional revenue.

To grow your list, simply secure an inexpensive opt-in keyword with a text message marketing provider and start publicizing it. Promote a message like "Text 'CHEESECAKE' to 474747 to get a free dessert with your order." You can print the offer on signage, menus, receipts and table tents. Put the offer on your social media pages and website by embedding a customizable opt-in form offered by the best bulk text messaging services.


Related Reading: 5 Ways to Make Text Message Marketing for Restaurants Sizzle

Get Your Diners to Keep Coming Back

Once you get your VIP list off the ground, don't be shy about texting them to get customers back in the door. A weekly or bi-weekly cadence works best for most restaurants. It's best to decide ahead of time how often you'll send and let people know up front how many messages to expect each week or month.

In addition to delivering special offers and alerts about events, successful restaurant marketers use text messages to let their fans know about new staff additions, run referral promotions, and publicize their charity work. Each touch keeps your restaurant top-of-mind and strengthens the connection between your business and community. 

One of the most powerful benefits of SMS marketing for restaurants is that you know exactly when your customers will see your message. Unlike any other marketing channel, mass text messages are read as soon as they're sent. 90% of text messages are read within three minutes of receipt. To see more impressive SMS numbers, check out 42 Unbelievable Text Message Marketing Statistics That Will Blow Your Mind.

Your Restaurant Marketing Plan Template

Your 90-day restaurant marketing plan should be straightforward and simple. The strategy section should fit on a single page and contain the following items:

  • Goals. Example: Grow VIP list by 100 contacts and increase average order value by 5%.
  • Events. Example: Wine Tastings on Aug. 5, Sept. 4, and Oct. 7 from 6-10 p.m.
  • Specials. Example: Free ice cream with entrees the week of July 4.
  • Contact List Opt-in Offer. Example: Get a free gourmet salad with your order by texting 'SALAD' to 474747.
  • Assets Needed. Example: 2 Posters, 40 table tents, graphic design.
  • Budget. Example: $600 asset production, $50 text marketing, $500 giveaways. Total: $1,150.

Print your strategy page and keep it somewhere in plain sight. Map out each step of the process for each campaign on a 90-day calendar.

An Integral Part of Your Restaurant Marketing Plan

Once you've built your marketing contact list, you need to plan out your campaigns and establish a list of the best ones that you can run again and again.

We've helped over 165,000 customers send more than 4 billion marketing text messages, and we've seen which campaigns work best for restaurants. To help our dining industry clients out, we've developed a free resource with 18 of the best marketing text messages for restaurants. You'll get specific examples and templates you can copy in the eBook which you can access right now.

In addition to some of the campaign types we've outlined in this post, you'll learn about messages you can send like:

  • Weekly Specials
  • Your Table Is Ready
  • Reservation Reminders
  • Review Requests
  • Staff Communications
  • And More!

Download our Text Messaging Playbook for Restaurants

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