Your Marketing Should Match Your Restaurant’s Size

It often happens here on SteamFeed that articles generate great conversation, and sometimes one article influences another. Paul Cooley raised a wonderful question when talking about Three Takeaways From Three Brand Fails that made me think about the marketing differences between large corporate restaurant chains and smaller more independent restaurants. The discussion brought back memories of my time spent working with National Restaurant Chains and International Brands. I spent many years working with multilayered organizations that make macro decisions as their audiences are in the hundreds of thousands and often the millions.

marketing should match your restaurant
photo credit: Robert S. Donovan via photopin cc

If you are one of those brands that can afford to use mass media and spend millions of dollars on media and production, while finding success with reaching a small percentage of those numbers then I say the more power to you. Since for those large brands it is literally a numbers game. However,  if you are a small independent restaurant or a moderate restaurant chain with less than 15 units across several markets you should reconsider your strategy if mass media dominates your marketing plan.

It is here that I would love to hear form a local media rep to defend their metrics and validate their true reach. Local Radio and local TV are included in this discussion, and don’t get me started on spot cable buys.


If the reasons are not obvious, here are three reasons to be skeptical of the advice coming from a media rep:

1. Hello! They work on commission. It is their job to sell air time so of course they have attractive numbers and maybe even cool, colorful graphs to make their product look more attractive to you. These are sales people you know.

2. They do not have your best interest at heart. Do you think they customized those numbers in the PowerPoint presentation just for you? Slapping your logo on the presentation doesn’t make the research unique to you and your target customer.

3. You should NEVER be all in with one medium. As targeted as your audience might be, your customers have different interests and consume media differently. Your goal should be to maximize your media dollars.  My biggest pet peeve with local Radio and TV advertising is that they want to monopolize all of your marketing dollars. Once those commercials air and the media schedule runs its course what do you have to show for it? Consider investing in a long-term strategy, one that you own and you can control. Keep reading to learn what I am talking about.

So what should you do?

Thinking local is the right idea. However, today you can be local without using Mass Media. It’s called the internet.  Here are 6 ways to get started.

1. Set a Realistic Marketing Budget –  Be conservative and start with a plan. You don’t have to do this alone, use resources like to learn best practices and how to avoid #fauxperts, several of the authors here are consultants as well. Another great resource for Small Businesses is – it’s a smart way for Small Biz to learn about and connect to marketing resources.

2. Invest in a Search Engine Optimized Website – Make sure to build one that is mobile & tablet friendly. I highly suggest one that includes a Content Management System such as WordPress so that you can make updates and changes. Make sure to include your menu, as diners like to get an idea of what you serve before committing.

A blog on your site is another way to keep your audience informed and educated on new menu items, seasonal offerings or special events. Search engines will reward you with higher search results the more that you update your site with relevant content.

3. Utilize Social Media – You do want to build relationships with your customers, right? Teach your audience how to use your restaurant concept and stay top of mind to drive traffic. Here’s a guide with tips on How To Get Your Restaurant Started On Social Media.

4. Get on board with MobileLocation-based Mobile Ads Deliver Best Engagement, Performance according to MediaPost Publications.

5. Loyalty Programs – A restaurant’s database is often the most cost-effective medium to reach loyal fans. Make it a priority to capture email addresses, physical addresses and cell phone numbers. In order to make it worth your customer’s time include incentives to sign-up and please Don’t Piss Off Your Loyal Customers.

6. List your Restaurant Online – Make it easier for customers to find you when they’re searching for restaurant options. You’ve heard of Google before, right? Here’s an easy way to be  found on the worlds largest search engine How to Improve Local Search Marketing with Google Places.

So the next time a slick media rep walks into your restaurant, think twice before signing on the dotted line and invest those marketing dollars more wisely… like say online.

David Schwartz
David is a Brand Strategist focused on building relevant brands, while creating valuable consumer relationships to promote engagement. By utilizing the popularity of digital and mobile media, along with the social web he helps companies understand the power of controlling their content. David started his career working for MTV in New York, he then proceeded to Atlanta to work with the likes of Coca-Cola, Chick-fil-A and the Home Depot. From his time working with companies of all sizes he has learned that a strong brand is the key to long term success by turning customers into brand advocates. Now living in Nashville with his wife and two children, David works with companies of all sizes teaching and consulting on best practices for building a brand in the digital age.
David Schwartz
David Schwartz

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