Why Restaurants Should Spend More on Marketing

Whether your restaurant is quick-service or fine dining, open for breakfast or dinner, thriving or barely getting by, you probably aren’t putting enough focus on your restaurant marketing.  It’s easy to let marketing fall by the wayside when you start to get busy with other priorities.  But without effective marketing, it will be hard to keep your restaurant successful. Here are just a few of the reasons hospitality marketing is so important, and why you should be focusing on it more.

How Much to Spend on Marketing

Before we share the many ways digital marketing can help your business, let’s talk about how much to invest in marketing. Your marketing budget includes everything you’re spending on traditional advertising (like print) along with digital marketing spending.  A great rule of thumb is to spend 3-6% of your revenue on your restaurant marketing budget.

Benefits of Restaurant Marketing

Here are just 5 of the numerous reasons you should be spending money on marketing, and how it will benefit your restaurant in the short run and the long run.

Marketing Increases Brand Awareness

Let’s start at the very beginning of the customer journey.  People need to know your restaurant exists to come dine with you. The best marketing for restaurants starts out by letting people know about your brand, where you are located, and what you offer.  By engaging in marketing activities, both paid and organic, you will increase the chances someone has to be exposed to and interact with your brand. The more people know about your restaurant, the better chance they will choose to visit. If you don’t engage in marketing, you are relying completely on foot traffic and word of mouth to bring diners in. 

Marketing Connects You With Your Community

Charitable donations, participation in events, and other local marketing methods can really connect you with the community around your restaurant.  Local marketing is a great way to get to know people in your area and more quickly spread the word about your restaurant.  And when people feel a personal connection to your restaurant, or remember the great charity work you did in the community, they’ll feel much more inclined to support your business.

Marketing Prevents Sales Declines

No matter how successful your business is, it’s almost inevitable that you’ll face a downturn or a slow season at some point. When this happens, marketing can help. If you’re consistent with your marketing efforts when things are going well, you won’t have to scramble when things start to take a turn for the worse.  Staying engaged in marketing can keep you from facing such hard times.  And even if you do have a sales dip, continuing to invest in marketing will pull you out of the downturn faster.

Marketing Drives Conversions

If you’re like most business owners, your main goal is to generate as much revenue as possible, and to continue to grow.  All the marketing methods described above will help with that in the long run.  But marketing isn’t just a long game: Digital marketing in particular can directly result in conversions and sales.  

This is particularly true for restaurants that have an online conversion that matters to them: Reservations that can be booked online or online ordering for carryout orders.  Paid digital advertising, when done correctly, can help you see big spikes in online conversions. These ads target your precise desired audience, and drive consumers directly to the page or website you want them to be on to make a purchase or reservation.

Marketing Increases Your Average Ticket Value

Not only does marketing bring in new sales, but it also can increase the value of sales you’re already getting.  Just a couple of examples: 

  • You send your email subscribers a coupon for $5 off their next purchase of $30 or more.  A customer who was planning to purchase one meal and spend $20 may now bring a friend and spend $40 so they can get their discount 
  • You create eye-catching dessert menus for each table in your restaurant.  Diners who were not originally planning to order dessert may see the pictures and not be able to resist trying one of your desserts 


So it’s not only the sheer volume of orders that can increase when you have an effective restaurant marketing plan.  Each visitor or order can be more valuable as well.

For all these reasons and many more, make sure your restaurant is spending enough on a marketing budget.  To make the most of your marketing dollars, you may want to work with a specialized restaurant marketing agency that understands the business. This can greatly benefit your restaurant marketing and offer you the best chance of success. So don’t overlook marketing the next time you’re setting your restaurant budget: Increasing your marketing spend will help you out in the short term and the long term!

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