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3 Restaurant Marketing Misconceptions That Will Bankrupt Your Business


Today I’m going to be covering the 3 common restaurant marketing misconceptions that I ALWAYS see new and experienced restaurant owners fall for.

Falling for these restaurant marketing misconceptions could:

  • make you waste a lot of money
  • make you waste a lot of time
  • make the mistake of thinking marketing doesn’t work
  • or worse – bankrupt your restaurant

Imagine this: your restaurant is not doing too well and the walk-in traffic is struggling. So to attract more people, you’re thinking about running a 20% off special in hopes it will save your business.

Sounds familiar? I’m sure we’ve all had that idea and gone through that, right?

Will it save a restaurant? Well, that’s a big fat NO.

It’s not going to save any restaurant business but it is such a common thought that restaurateurs turn to. And that’s dangerous.

Below I’m going to share the 3 most common restaurant marketing misconceptions and debunk them. I’m also going to show you exactly what not to do in order to have a thriving profitable restaurant.

1.) Restaurant Marketing Fixes Everything

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The number one restaurant marketing misconception is that marketing fixes everything. So if you’re not successful, you just need to do more marketing.

Here’s the truth: marketing isn’t magic holy water. It won’t fix your bad food and bad service.

You’re just getting more people to try your bad food and bad service.

And they’re going to bash your restaurant because the quality and taste is terrible.

The only thing you’ll get is more poor reviews and negative word-of-mouth. And they’re never going to come back again.

Worst of all, you’re losing money selling items to these people you got through your doors with the marketing, since you ran a 20% off promotion. That’s 20% cut right into your margins for bad reviews and no chance of return customers.

Sadly, you have achieved a lose-lose scenario for your restaurant.

That’s why I always recommend pausing marketing until you have all your systems, food, service, and ambiance all dialed in. Then you’ll be ready to use spend your marketing dollars to get people in to experience your restaurant and reap the positive rewards.

If not, you’re throwing money into the fire and may be harming your business more than you think.

2.) Restaurant Marketing means doing big promotions and discounts

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The second common restaurant marketing misconception is that marketing has to mean big splashy promotions and insane discounts. Like BOGO (buy-one-get-one-free) or 50% off.

But no restaurant marketing is not like that. It is extremely dangerous to use those kinds of promotions.

That’s because you run the risk of training your customers to only come to dine at your restaurants when there’s a discount and attract bargain hunters.

This makes it extremely hard for you to:

  • have customers on regular time periods
  • build a loyal community who actually cares about your restaurant
  • survive since your margins are razor-thin
  • build a premium brand image

So if you are running big promotions, you need to careful. That being said, certain promotions are effective if done right and more strategy is baked in it.

Something that you may want to try instead would be collaborations or events. Both are effective ways to make sure that you get people to talk about your restaurant and build buzz without having to rely on splashy promos.

3.) Restaurant Marketing is fast and efficient

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The third biggest misconception about restaurant marketing is that it is fast and efficient.

That’s totally bogus.

If anyone comes to you pitching you on an idea telling you that you’re going to get results right away, run away. They’ll probably tell you to run a big giant promotion like we just warned you about…

Marketing is not fast. It takes time to marinate and work. Sometimes you’ll end up reaping the rewards months later.

Think about it: How many times have you heard about a restaurant for the first time and you instantly go for a visit? Less than a handful I bet.

I still remember it’s been three weeks since I’ve begun talking about this one sushi place that I’ve always wanted to go. And yet I still haven’t visited them.

I always see them on Instagram, it’s already been around five to six different touchpoints. And what I mean by touchpoint is five to six different instances that I’ve seen them on my feed and yet I still haven’t gone and ordered from them.

This kind of scenario is out-of-the-ordinary. We do it all the time with not just food but other products and activities.

A Google study found that it may take us over 20 touchpoints or before someone ends up heading into a store to buy.

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Photo Credits: Think Google

What this means is that you want to continue to add touchpoints to edge potential customers closer to deciding to dine at your restaurant. And that could take weeks or months – not something fast.

You would want to do leverage social media, PR, influencer marketing, email marketing, to show up in front of people and work into your customer’s habits.

Know that marketing is a long game and needs to be done constantly so you stay relevant and top of mind.

You cannot just stop doing marketing just because you don’t see instant results. That’s not what smart restaurant marketing is. You need to appear and build that restaurant brand, little by little.

So there you go, the 3 common restaurant marketing misconceptions that you need to be aware of and not fall for. By avoiding these misconceptions, you can easily recalibrate your expectations of what restaurant marketing can do and can’t do. You’ll also save a lot of time, money, and energy from being trapped by these common misconceptions.

For more tips and strategies on how to market your restaurant business, check out my restaurant marketing resources.

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