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Restaurant marketing can increase visibility to the general public, attract new customers and boost sales revenue. Restaurant marketing can also succeed at retaining existing customers who may be more inclined to return often if they see a special deal or promotion being marketed. There are several ways to successfully market a restaurant, including running advertisements, handing out fliers, conducting special promotions and offering tastings. Restaurants make up one of the biggest businesses in the United States and are one of the largest private-sector employers, according to the National Restaurant Association, making marketing an important part of any business plan.
Restaurant-industry sales are expected to total $604 billion this year, according to the National Restaurant Association, with about 960,000 locations in the United States alone. A National Restaurant Association survey of U.S. citizens showed 88 percent of survey participants enjoy going to restaurants. In the fall of 2010 there were 579,102 restaurants in the United States, according to "The New York Times." With the fierce competition, effective marketing and advertising strategies are imperative for individual restaurants to be successful in the marketplace. Cooking with higher quality ingredients, placing an emphasis on only using local produce and dairy, or featuring a more organic menu are ways restaurants could market themselves as standing out from the pack.
Statistics point to Internet marketing as one of the more popular methods to spread the word for restaurants. According to restaurant site Dining Grader, 40 percent of restaurants feel that email marketing is crucial to their bottom line, while AIS Media states that 64 percent of restaurants use Internet marketing because of its far-reaching exposure. Social media is also a form of Internet marketing that can increase brand loyalty, spread word of mouth, and promote events and deals.
Most restaurants see marketing as vital to their business and will spend accordingly. The U.S. Small Business Administration suggests allotting at least 3 percent to 5 percent of total revenue toward marketing. Last year alone, restaurant spending on advertising totaled $5.6 billion, about a 2 percent increase from 2009, according to the National Restaurant Association. Ad Age states that the biggest spenders on marketing included Burger King, McDonald's, Subway and Dunkin' Donuts, with McDonald's spending about $1.2 billion alone on advertising for the year.
The main purpose of restaurant marketing is to attract new and existing customers. Without customers restaurants would have no business. According to global market research firm Mintel, 10 percent of respondents in a recent survey intend to increase spending at restaurants this year, but over half of respondents said they plan to alter their dining out habits and spend less due to the recession. Increased frugality, though, is another way savvy restaurants can run successful marketing campaigns. For example, offering two-for-one deals, coupons and discounts for senior citizens and children are ways of marketing toward more frugal customers.
Crystal Vogt has been an editor and freelance writer since 2005 and has had her work mentioned on MediaBistro, Yahoo! Finance and MSN Money, among other outlets. She received her M.S. in journalism from Boston University and holds a B.A. in English from UC Santa Barbara.