If you own a restaurant or are hoping to open one, you should already know one thing: your food alone will not bring people through your doors. For this reason, your restaurant needs a marketing plan.

There’s no single perfect way to market a restaurant—they’re notoriously tricky in this regard. However, if you prepare yourself with a well thought-out and organized marketing plan, you give yourself a better chance of succeeding.

Get started drawing up your own marketing plan with the following tips:

Find your Niche

Here’s a secret: not everyone wants your food.

As you build your business, don’t try to please everybody. It’s impossible. Instead, figure out the group(s) of people who like the type of food you want to serve, and market to them.

Here’s an example: if you’re opening a vegan restaurant, the BBQ crowd likely won’t be interested in what you have to offer. Do some research and find out who wants what you’ve got cooking. Pay attention to other brands—and note who frequents their establishment, find out what their hobbies are, and what types of messaging they want to see. This will allow you to integrate your business into the community you hope to serve.

Understanding your audience will inform every marketing decision you make down the line, from building a website to adding new menu items to the color of your walls. Do your due diligence first to make sure you’re starting your journey off in the right direction.

Take a Page Out of Your Competitors’ Playbooks

You aren’t the only restaurant in town (probably). If there are others making the types of food you want to make, pay attention to how they do business.

What makes them successful? What potential shortcomings do you see? Who is eating at their restaurants? Take note of how they do business, and implement practices that you think could be beneficial.

Look at their website and social presence. See what types of posts on their Instagram, for example, get the most likes. While you’re at it, don’t be afraid to make a few trips to their restaurant. Check out their menu, do some people-watching, and pay attention to the way they do business. Don’t make yourself a carbon copy of them by any means, but don’t be afraid to implement aspects of what they do that you like.

Get Active On Social Media

An effective and simple tool your restaurant can use to break through is social media. It’s the perfect way to organically reach potential customers. Post high-quality photos of your dishes and use relevant hashtags to put them on the radar of hungry Instagrammers.

Not only can you publish your own content, but you can work with influencers in the community to have them post from your restaurant as well.

Crazy as it seems, in 2018, Instagram Foodies can make or break your business. Get in contact with them and work out a deal whereby they’ll post about you on their feeds. For some people, a free meal in exchange for a post will do the trick. For the more influential influencers, you may need to pay them on top of that.

At any rate, you need to show people what you’re offering them. Would you go to a new barber or hair stylist without ever having seen what their cuts turn out like? Your restaurant operates in a similar way. Give potential customers a taste (pun not intended) of what you’re cooking up.

Make Sure You Have a Google Business Listing

One of the single most important steps you can take as you market your business is to make sure it’s listed on Google. This way, when someone searches, “restaurant near me,” “empanadas in Spokane,” or even simply, “food,” your restaurant can be listed right at the top of their search. It looks something like this, which you’re surely familiar with:

Your Google business listing will allow you to post photos of your location and your dishes, and will also allow customers to leave reviews. All of these features can be particularly influential as you try to improve your restaurant’s exposure. This is an easy, and free, tool to use that can make a massive difference in your visibility.

Get Food Truck Insurance

Restaurant insurance isn’t specific to marketing, but it’s just as important. For all the money and effort you put in to bringing customers into your restaurant, you could lose it all just as quickly if someone decides to file a lawsuit against you.

Whether you’re just getting started in the industry or have been serving up delicious dishes for years, everybody’s susceptible to an accident. Don’t leave your business at risk. Make sure it’s protected with restaurant insurance.

What are some of your favorite ways to promote your business? Let us know what works for you in the comments!

Learn more about restaurant insurance