Stop Spending Without a Strategy | Brand Education for Restaurants

If you have ever met me, talked to me or read anything that I have shared you will know that I like to offer my honest opinion. I am asked many questions on a daily basis, I love being able to answer any and all of them. But please don’t be offended when you don’t like what you hear. IMO you ask questions to get feedback, sorry if sometimes the truth hurts. However, the truth just might be exactly what you need to hear. If you want sugarcoating, go ask your mom what she thinks. If you want results, ask someone that will tell you what you don’t want to hear.

You go to a doctor to see if you are sick but you buy medicine from a Pharmacy.

If you want to improve your marketing results, don’t ask the person who sells you the media. Ask someone who is not financially tied to your marketing dollars. When you sell advertising you are really selling media. In my opinion, the biggest culprits are Newspapers, Magazines, TV and Radio Stations. The “creative” work that they produce for clients are simply tragic. I use that term very loosely, since they execute a finished product. Creative it is not. Creative is more than art, creative incorporates problem solving that starts with a strategy. Executed work by the publisher of the medium is damaging to your brand, it lacks focus and an overall strategy that should include goals. All publishers want you to do is keep spending money on media. Besides, the finished product is so bad that you make those horrible lawyer TV commercials look good.

That is not good for your restaurant’s brand reputation. Think of any brand that you respect, do you think Target or Coca-cola would ever allow a Newspaper or TV station to produce a spot for them? Didn’t think so. Without a strategy it is very likely that you are spending more on media than you need to.

There are no shortage of media options. You might find it helpful to check out an older post I wrote about 12 Types of Advertising Mediums.  

Running an Ad is not a plan

Anyone can buy media, all you have to do is have credit and someone will take your money. Effective marketing comes down to having a strategy and executing that strategy to reach your goals.

Do you think Rodin’s subject was pondering his Marketing Strategy?

No Strategy = No Plan

No Plan = Burning Precious Marketing Dollars

So what is missing in the equation? You guessed it, a Marketing Strategy.

Think of a Marketing Strategy like a game of chess. Sure you could just move the pieces (chessmen) randomly but in order to be competitive you need to be thinking 2 to 3 steps ahead, if not more. In other words you need a plan of attack.

10 Basic tips to help you start thinking the right way:

  1. Start by creating a Marketing Plan for the next 12-18 months. Think of where you want your restaurant brand to be in the next year to year-and-a-half. This is easier said than done. It might be wise to seek outside counsel to get you started off on the right foot.  
  2. Set a budget. Include creative development in this budget. Think beyond just media. TIP: If you can only afford the media, then you don’t have the budget for that medium. That is ok, not everyone has money to burn. Even more of a reason to invest in a strategy so that you can maximize you marketing dollars. Don’t forget about marketing assets like photography or a website.  
  3. Do research on your Primary and Secondary Audiences. Who is your current audience? Consider who your emerging audience is. Ex: If you are located near a University, incoming Freshman would be your emerging audience.  
  4. Do more research. This time conduct a Market Analysis. Who is your competition? Who is grabbing market share from you? Are Food Trucks treading on your turf? Is there a new delivery service stealing catering business from you?
  5. Put your best foot forward. What do you do better than your competition? What separates you from the restaurant down the street? Be honest and realistic. Maybe location is your greatest asset or perhaps price?
  6. List specific goals for the next 12-18 months. Include metrics: 
    • A. Come up with a way to track and analyze the metrics.
    • B. Such as traffic, sales or growth.
    • C. Do you want to increase lunch traffic or drive more catering business?
  7. What are your customer touch points? Where does your audience interact with you? Is there a lot of walk by traffic? How about drive by traffic? If you offer to-go business your touch point could be your to-go bag, food wrapper or box? A touchpoint can be anything that a potential customer interacts with your brand. 
  8. Define your brand. Start with creating a Brand Strategy. Who are you and what do you do? Be Specific. Are you a Sandwich Shop or Deli? Maybe you are a convenient, healthy, affordable lunch alternative to burgers and fries? If you need help Kicking The Tires On Your Brand use these 20 question to get you started.
  9. Create a relevant message to your audience. Why should they chose you versus the competition? Do you serve students or families? Without a well thought out message you are not talking to a target consumer, you are just blasting a one-way message that is not relevant to them. Nor does it educate the audience on why you might be the solution they have been craving. 
  10. Think of a brand promise. What will you offer as a product or service? Is it quality food? Local or sustainable ingredients? The goal is to create life long fans and brand ambassadors. You must deliver on the promise.

BONUS TIPS: To keep with the Chess theme just like how each chess piece moves in a different way, each medium you choose may require a different strategy.

If you are ready for advanced strategy, consider 4 Principles of Marketing Strategy in the Digital Age.

Just like each Chess piece makes a unique move, so too is the uniqueness of each type of media.

1. Mass Media can be used for creating awareness, while it is less targeted it potentially hits more people. 

2. Social Media is perfect for customer interaction and customer support.

3. Out-of-Home Advertising can be effective at generating impulse purchases.   

The above tips are offered to help you get started. They are recommended exercises to go through before committing money to advertising. Consider dividing up your media budget, if you aren’t active in social or digital media think about skipping a month of TV, Radio or Print. That is a great way to Invest Long-Term In Your Brand.

So, before you spend any more money on media:

Do Research. Form a Strategy. Create a Plan.

And, Be Willing To Adjust Your Plan.

Looking for an honest opinion? Don’t be afraid to ask. Make sure you listen because you just might learn something that can help your restaurants bottom line.

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