Like with all budgets, the one that works is usually the one you stick to for enough time to make it earn its keep. This post is all about the questions you should ask yourself about your yearly marketing budget strategy. Better yet, we’ll either help you answer the questions or lead you in the right direction to finding those answers.
How do you plan your marketing budget for the year?
This can be tricky…especially if you’re one of many businesses that do NOT have a budget for marketing, but rather go on instinct and what looks good or feels right. This may work, but usually not for long and doesn’t have nearly the impact that a plan can have. Our advice is before you jumpstart any marketing budget, get a clear picture of what your marketing goals are first. After all, how will you know you’ve reached your goals if you don’t have any?
Here are some thought starters to get you thinking about what your objectives may be. Do yourself a huge favor and pick 2 or 3, max, so that you can actually focus on them and make them happen.
- Generate awareness of your restaurant and/or offering
- Increase repeat visits
- Differentiate your brand from your competitor’s
- Introduce a new product, new menu, or new service
- Encourage first-time customers to visit your restaurant
- Increase purchase frequency
- Increase average check
- Improve your value perceptions
How do you decide how much you spend on marketing?
Now that you’ve clarified what your goals are, deciding on your budget should be a whole lot easier. The general rule of thumb is that marketing expenditures should be between 2 and 10 percent of sales. But, again, that’s a guideline. Restaurants usually need to be more aggressive since it’s a highly competitive category with consistent promotional activity…sometimes up to as much as 30 percent is appropriate. If you have a larger marketing budget, read Debunking Three Marketing Myths blog post to learn more.
There are a variety of programs that are free and help get your name out there and your seats filled. For example, as a Restaurant.com partner, it’s no cost to you, and all you have to do is honor the gift certificates when customers bring them in. The money they spend goes completely to your business.
Slow and Steady
Lastly, all good things are worth waiting for. Even the best marketing initiative takes time to get off the ground, and it takes even longer to see results. Stick with it.