More than half of all restaurants fail during the first three years. That doesn't mean you should shutter the doors before they open. Develop a promotion plan, build a realistic business strategy, and differentiate your restaurant by offering something nobody else does. Calculate your business costs so your promotion plan doesn't absorb all your money. An effective promotion plan can boost your business and help you succeed.
Establish a target demographic. An upscale restaurant will advertise differently than a hamburger joint. Deciding who your customers are will help you spend advertising dollars wisely.
Design a logo and pick a signature font. Branding is important to promote your restaurant. Use the same logo and fonts on all your promotional materials so customers instantly recognize your advertisements. Greater recognition translates into top-of-mind awareness, which can equal more business.
Create an advertising budget. Designate a specific amount of money for magazine advertisements, coupons and direct mailers. As your business grows, ask people how they heard about your restaurant. Continue investing in the advertising that works and cut back on the rest.
Identify the things that make your restaurant stand out, such as service, an award-winning chef or groundbreaking cuisine. Use advertising to tell your customers what distinguishes your restaurant from others.
Design ads tailored to your target demographic that communicate your standout qualities. For example, advertisements for an upscale restaurant might use classic colors like black and burgundy, while a hamburger restaurant ad might employ louder colors such as red and yellow. Hire a professional copywriter or graphic designer to make your advertisements more effective.
Select places to advertise based on your target demographic and advertising budget. Fine dining restaurant owners might advertise in a local upscale magazine, while a hamburger joint owner might run ads on city buses. Most businesses benefit from running newspaper or radio advertisements.
Offer specials. First-time diners are more likely to visit your restaurant if they have a coupon. Try happy hours or coupons for 50 percent off the price of an entree.
Build a website. An attractive, informative and easy-to-use website can increase business. Use search engine optimization to ensure that your site pops up when people search restaurants in your area.
Print supplemental materials such as business cards, brochures, pens and matchbooks that include your restaurant's name, address, phone number and website. Distribute the materials freely. They are an inexpensive form of advertising.
List all the elements of your promotion plan before you implement them. For each element, track expenses and effectiveness and tweak your plan if necessary.