August 25, 2023

How Much Should Restaurants Spend on Marketing?

In the competitive world of the restaurant industry, establishing a strong marketing strategy is crucial for success. However, deciding how much to invest in marketing can be a challenging task for restaurant owners. The ideal amount to spend on marketing varies from business to business, as it depends on factors such as the restaurant’s size, target audience, and overall budget.

Studies have suggested different percentages for a restaurant’s marketing budget. Some marketing professionals recommend allocating as little as 3% of revenue, while others suggest spending up to 15% for better results. The key is to find the right balance that delivers optimal results without negatively impacting the bottom line.

When creating a marketing budget, it’s essential to consider which channels yield the highest return on investment. This might include social media ads, event sponsorships, or even traditional print advertisements. By analysing the effectiveness of previous campaigns and adjusting the strategy accordingly, restaurants can optimise their marketing efforts and make the most of their budget.

Why Marketing Investment Matters for Restaurants

Investing in marketing plays a crucial role in the success of a restaurant. By allocating a portion of the revenue for marketing efforts, a restaurant can effectively attract new customers, create brand awareness, and foster customer loyalty. A well-planned marketing strategy can contribute significantly to the growth of a restaurant’s revenue and overall business.

When a restaurant invests in marketing, it allows for the implementation of various advertising and promotional tactics to draw in customers. These tactics can range from traditional print advertisements to digital marketing through social media and search engine advertising. Implementing a diverse approach to marketing ensures that a restaurant reaches a wider audience.

By targeting various demographics and appealing to their preferences, a restaurant can increase its customer base, thereby increasing its revenue. Through effective marketing, a restaurant’s unique selling points can be highlighted and distinguished from competitors, giving potential customers a reason to choose the establishment over others in the area.

A well-executed marketing strategy can also aid in customer retention. By keeping existing customers informed about special promotions, events, and changes to the menu, a restaurant creates a sense of familiarity and loyalty. This can lead to customers becoming regular patrons and advocates, spreading positive word-of-mouth about the restaurant, further increasing its customer base.

In conclusion, a well-planned and executed marketing plan is essential for the success of a restaurant. By investing in marketing efforts, a restaurant can ensure it attracts new customers, retains existing ones, and ultimately, increases revenue and overall success.

Determining the Ideal Budget

When it comes to determining the ideal budget for restaurant marketing, there are several factors to consider. It is essential to allocate a percentage of your restaurant’s gross annual revenue towards marketing efforts. The amount spent on marketing will typically depend on factors such as your business goals, the number and type of marketing channels you want to utilise, and the level of competition in your area.

One approach involves basing your marketing budget on a percentage of your restaurant’s gross annual revenue. In some cases, around 15% is suggested as an appropriate percentage to allocate towards marketing activities1. However, the percentage allocated may vary from one business to another, depending on the unique requirements of your restaurant.


A critical aspect in creating a successful marketing budget for your restaurant is to maintain consistency and adherence to the budget. Once you have determined the amount to be dedicated to marketing efforts, stick to it and distribute the funds across channels such as social media, email, paid search, and other marketing activities2.

When allocating the budget, consider your marketing objectives. For example, a new restaurant may prioritise building brand awareness and attracting new customers to the establishment. On the other hand, an established restaurant may focus on customer retention, engagement, and upselling to existing clientele. Align your budget accordingly to achieve your restaurant’s marketing goals effectively and efficiently.

Keep in mind the level of competition in your restaurant’s location when determining your marketing budget. If your restaurant operates in a highly competitive area, you may need to allocate a larger percentage of your budget to effectively compete with other establishments. If competition is lower, a smaller budget may suffice while still allowing your restaurant to stand out.

In conclusion, determining the ideal budget for your restaurant’s marketing efforts should be a well-considered process that takes into account the unique factors and goals of your business. Consistency in budget allocation and being mindful of the competition will contribute to establishing a successful marketing strategy for your restaurant.



Marketing Channels and Techniques

Starting with a variety of marketing channels can elevate a restaurant’s presence and offer a competitive edge. Skills to optimise these channels range from social media to traditional advertising, allowing businesses to customise their approach and reach unique target audiences.

In the modern era, digital channels play a crucial role in restaurant marketing. Investing in social media campaigns is now a wise decision, as platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter provide ample opportunities to showcase menu items, events, and promotions easily. By leveraging the platforms’ features, restaurants can engage with customers and create potential brand ambassadors.

However, offline methods should not be disregarded. Traditional channels, such as print advertisements, billboards, and radio ads, still prove beneficial for increasing brand awareness. While they might require greater monetary investment, they can reach a broader audience base who might not be heavily engaged in digital platforms.

Another important technique is search engine optimisation (SEO), which helps ensure better visibility for a restaurant’s website across search engines. Properly optimising a website can drive more organic traffic, cut through competition, and ultimately boost bookings and revenue.

Collaborating with third-party delivery services, such as UberEats, DoorDash, and Grubhub, can also be fruitful. These partnerships not only increase a restaurant’s visibility but also provide delivery and discovery tools that can contribute to attracting new customers.

Lastly, utilising loyalty programmes and rewards can help retain existing customers and create a sense of belonging. Offering exclusive promotions and deals to loyal patrons can make them feel valued, encouraging them to spread positive reviews and enhancing word-of-mouth marketing.

Executing Effective Campaigns

When it comes to restaurant marketing, it is crucial to execute effective campaigns to attract new customers and maintain current ones. One of the key elements in successful marketing is having a well-designed website. It should be visually appealing, user-friendly, and display essential information, such as menus, location, and contact details.

Reaching the right audience plays a significant role in the success of marketing campaigns. It is essential to identify the target market and use tailored strategies to appeal to them. Leveraging social media channels and online platforms can help in increasing reach and engagement, as they are a popular medium for customers to discover new eating spots and share their experiences.

Content is the backbone of any marketing strategy, and restaurants should focus on creating interesting and engaging content. This can include high-quality images and videos of dishes, behind-the-scenes glimpses, or stories on the sourcing of ingredients, all of which can connect with the audience on a deeper level. Sharing these on social media and blogs can help to build a loyal customer base and boost the restaurant’s reputation.

Developing and implementing a variety of marketing strategies is crucial for staying ahead in the competitive restaurant industry. This might involve special events, promotions, collaborations with local food influencers, or email marketing campaigns to keep customers informed about the latest offerings. The key is to maintain consistent messaging and ensure all marketing materials align with the restaurant’s brand and values.

Investing in advertising, such as targeted social media ads or search engine marketing, is a crucial part of restaurant marketing campaigns. This can help in reaching a larger audience, attracting new customers, and increasing revenues. It is important to allocate a specific marketing budget based on a percentage of the restaurant’s gross annual revenue. Additionally, tracking the return on investment of marketing efforts can help in identifying the most effective tactics and adjusting strategies accordingly.

By employing a combination of these methods, with a focus on website development, reach, engaging content, diverse marketing strategies, and targeted advertising, restaurants can execute effective campaigns and achieve success in today’s competitive food and beverage landscape.

Social Media Platforms for Success

Restaurants looking to enhance their marketing strategies should consider investing in social media platforms, as they provide multiple opportunities to promote their business and engage with customers. By leveraging various platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat, they can effectively spread awareness about their offerings, events, and promotions.

Facebook remains a popular choice for restaurants due to its vast user base. Creating a carefully crafted Facebook business page allows establishments to tap into potential customer engagement by sharing updates, images, and events. Facebook also enables targeted advertisements, further helping restaurants reach their desired audience.

Instagram is another powerful platform, especially given its visual focus. Food and beverage photos rank among the most popular types of content on Instagram, with millions of posts tagged as #food and #drinks. A visually appealing Instagram feed can attract customers, especially millennials – a demographic shown to be influenced by a restaurant’s online presence.

TikTok, with its short-form video format, offers ample opportunities for restaurants to demonstrate their creativity and showcase their menu items. By engaging with various food and drink trends or creating innovative content, establishments can increase their online visibility and potentially reach new customers.

Snapchat, often overlooked in the realm of restaurant marketing, can also be utilised effectively. Restaurants can share behind-the-scenes content or time-sensitive promotions to build a more personal connection with their audience. Snapchat also offers geofilter options, allowing restaurants to target nearby customers and encourage them to visit.

To maximise the impact of social media marketing and drive engagement, restaurants should consider investing in both organic content and paid promotions, ensuring they maintain a consistent brand identity across platforms. Moreover, they should regularly monitor the effectiveness of their campaigns and adjust their approach where necessary, in order to achieve the best possible results.

Offline Marketing Approaches

Offline marketing approaches still play a significant role in promoting restaurants and attracting new customers. Implementing a variety of strategies, such as direct mail, print ads, and allocating a suitable restaurant marketing budget, can contribute to a successful campaign.

Direct mail marketing can be an effective way to target potential customers in a specific area. By offering promotional materials, coupons, or announcements about special events, restaurants can create interest and drive foot traffic to their establishment. Personalising direct mail efforts can also create a sense of connection between the restaurant and the customer, leading to higher chances of attracting new patrons.

Print ads, such as newspaper and magazine advertisements, can also be an essential component of offline marketing. Recognisable, eye-catching ads promote the restaurant’s unique offerings to a broader audience. This strategy can help a business gain visibility within the local community and stimulate curiosity about its menu and atmosphere.

In conjunction with these methods, a well-planned restaurant marketing budget is crucial. Ensuring that a proportion of the business’s overall budget is allocated to marketing is vital for continued growth and visibility. The percentage can vary, but as a starting point, new restaurants especially need to invest in their marketing to establish a strong presence in the local community. The budget should take into account all marketing activities, including offline and online initiatives, and should be flexible enough to adapt to the business’s needs and goals.

By utilising offline marketing approaches such as direct mail, print ads, and strategic budget allocation, restaurants can strengthen their brand presence and attract more customers. Implementing a multi-faceted approach to marketing ensures that a broader audience is reached, contributing to the restaurant’s success in an increasingly competitive industry.

Maximising the Impact of Special Events

Incorporating special events into a restaurant marketing plan plays a pivotal role in attracting new customers and maintaining a positive impression among existing ones. These occasions offer opportunities for restaurants to showcase their culinary prowess and distinctive service, especially during holidays and special celebrations.

Effectively allocating resources for special events requires careful planning and consideration. One crucial aspect to focus on is the Food & Beverage (F&B) budget, as it accounts for 33% of overall event costs. Ensuring a memorable experience for guests should be a top priority, as it leaves a lasting impact and increases the likelihood of return visits.

To maximise the benefits of special events, restaurants should consider offering tailored promotions that cater to distinct needs and preferences. For example, they can offer a special meal for two on Valentine’s Day, free glasses of champagne on Christmas Eve, and organise free taxi rides on New Year’s Eve. Such promotions encourage customer engagement and can boost sales during typically slow periods.

Furthermore, the availability of gift certificates should be highlighted, as they provide an excellent incentive for nurturing customer loyalty. Restaurants ought to display them near the point of sale, entrance, or even sell them through their website.

In essence, incorporating special events into a restaurant’s marketing strategy bolsters the overall appeal and creates opportunities for attracting customers. With meticulous planning and consideration of guests’ preferences, these occasions can be highly effective in boosting a restaurant’s bottom line and securing its position in people’s hearts and minds.

Digital Marketing and Online Presence

In today’s highly competitive landscape, it is crucial for restaurants to invest in digital marketing to attract new customers, retain existing ones, and maintain a robust online presence. A well-planned digital marketing strategy can significantly boost brand awareness and contribute to the overall success of the restaurant.

One key component of digital marketing is email marketing, which helps restaurants reach their target audience directly in their inbox. Utilising personalised emails and newsletters, restaurants can promote special offers, upcoming events, and share news about their menu and services. Research has shown that 34% of restaurants dedicate an employee’s time to marketing, highlighting its importance in the industry.

Another essential aspect of digital marketing is Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). SEO focuses on improving a restaurant’s website ranking on search engines like Google, thereby increasing organic traffic and the chances of potential customers discovering the business. Proper keyword targeting, high-quality content, and mobile optimisation are some factors that contribute to successful SEO campaigns.

Social media platforms, particularly YouTube, offer excellent opportunities for promoting brand awareness. Restaurants can create and share engaging videos showcasing their food, atmosphere, and behind-the-scenes looks at daily operations. By connecting with their audience through interactive content, restaurants can foster strong relationships with their customers and enhance their reputation online.

On average, the cost of digital marketing services in 2023 ranges from $2,500 to $12,000 per month, $50 to $500+ per hour, and $1,000 to $7,500 per project for small-to-midsized businesses. It is essential for restaurant owners to allocate an appropriate budget for digital marketing, considering factors such as the restaurant’s size, location, target audience, and marketing objectives.

In conclusion, adopting a comprehensive approach to digital marketing and investing in email marketing, SEO, and social media platforms like YouTube is crucial for maintaining a strong online presence and driving business growth for restaurants. By allocating the necessary resources to digital marketing efforts, restaurant owners can ensure they stay ahead of the competition and make a lasting impression on their target clientele.

Calculating the Return on Investment

When planning marketing activities for a restaurant, it is vital to consider the return on investment (ROI) to ensure that resources are allocated effectively. Calculating ROI involves comparing the financial gains generated by marketing efforts against the costs associated with them. A confident and knowledgeable approach to this process can help restaurant owners make better-informed decisions about their marketing strategies.

The basic formula to calculate ROI is (net return on investment) / (cost of investment) x 100% or (final value of investment – initial value of investment) / (cost of investment) x 100%1. While this formula provides a simple way to measure ROI, it is essential to consider the specific marketing activities and target audience for a restaurant. Doing so will help to avoid false claims or exaggerations in ROI calculations.


To get started, it is important to identify the various marketing channels being used, such as print advertising, online promotions, and social media. Then, allocate costs to each of these activities and track the ensuing results. By monitoring the impact of each marketing channel, it provides a clearer picture of how they contribute to the overall ROI.

Moreover, tracking the effectiveness of various marketing activities can be achieved through the use of keywords. Incorporating specific keywords into the campaigns enables monitoring their performance through search engines or social media platforms. This data can be used to adjust the marketing strategy and improve future ROI.

In addition, understanding the target audience of the restaurant plays an essential role in selecting the right marketing activities. By tailoring marketing efforts to suit the preferences of potential customers, restaurant owners can create more personalized and effective campaigns, optimizing the chances of achieving their goals and maximizing ROI.

In conclusion, calculating ROI is a crucial component of any restaurant’s marketing strategy. By using a clear and confident approach to evaluate the impact of marketing activities, restaurant owners can efficiently allocate resources, optimize their campaigns, and ultimately, achieve more effective results.



Adapting Strategies to Changing Circumstances

During the COVID-19 pandemic, restaurants were faced with unprecedented challenges that forced them to quickly adapt their marketing strategies to continue reaching their customers. In this constantly evolving environment, it is crucial for restaurants to remain flexible and adapt their approach to marketing in order to stay relevant and successful.

One important focus is enhancing the customer experience through various channels. Providing clear information about changes in operation, availability of take-away or delivery options, and any extra safety measures being taken can help assure customers and build trust. Restaurants also need to engage customers via digital platforms, whether it be social media, their website, or through newsletters.

Search engine ads can be a powerful tool, allowing restaurants to target specific audience segments based on location and demographics. By optimising these ads for relevance and keywords, restaurants can capitalise on customers searching for dining options in their area. It’s essential to adjust budgets and bids according to the fluctuations in audience size, ensuring not only that spending remains efficient, but also that marketing efforts reach the desired number of prospective customers.

The use of imagery in marketing materials should also be carefully considered, reflecting the current circumstances and staying in tune with the audience’s mindset. Promoting images of large gatherings, for instance, may not be the best approach during times of social distancing restrictions. Instead, focusing on pictures of comforting food, delivery drivers, or well-spaced outdoor dining can evoke a sense of safety and desire for the restaurant’s offerings.

By constantly monitoring the market and being prepared to adjust strategies as needed, restaurants will not only be able to stay afloat in challenging times, but also position themselves for long-term success in a post-pandemic world.

Balancing Marketing Costs and Revenue

In the competitive world of the restaurant business, marketing plays a crucial role in attracting customers and increasing revenue. It is vital for restaurants to find a balance between marketing costs and revenue to maintain a healthy profit margin. This section will outline the key factors to consider when determining the right balance for your restaurant.

One primary factor to consider is the gross revenue of your restaurant. Allocating a percentage of your gross annual revenue for marketing expenses is a common approach in the industry. This percentage can vary depending on factors such as the size, location, and target audience of the restaurant. For instance, new restaurants or those in highly competitive areas may need to allocate a higher percentage to establish their presence.

Another aspect to consider is the use of discounts and promotions. These can be a cost-effective way to attract customers and encourage repeat visits, but they can also impact the profit margin. Developing a sustainable strategy for discounts is crucial to balancing marketing costs and revenue. Offering limited-time promotions or loyalty programs can be effective methods for engaging customers whilst preserving the profit margin.

Additionally, it’s vital to monitor and analyse the effectiveness of various marketing channels used by your restaurant. This might include social media ads, search engine ads, community sponsorships, and print advertising. Benchmarking against successful companies in your industry and learning from their strategies can prove valuable in strengthening your marketing efforts.

Utilising a marketing budget calculator can be helpful in determining the right balance between marketing costs and revenue. These tools typically factor in various aspects such as monthly revenue, desired profit margin, and marketing channel effectiveness to provide insight into the optimal allocation of marketing resources.

By taking a strategic approach to marketing budgets, restaurants can find a balance between attracting customers, boosting revenue, and sustaining a healthy profit margin. Careful planning and consistent monitoring of marketing efforts will support continued growth and long-term success in this competitive industry.


In summary, restaurant owners should carefully consider their marketing budget as a crucial part of their overall business strategy. Allocating a portion of the gross annual revenue to marketing efforts can significantly impact a restaurant’s success. By regularly reviewing and adjusting these budgets, restaurant owners can ensure their marketing strategies remain effective and aligned with their business goals.

A well-planned marketing strategy should encompass various aspects of a restaurant’s branding, advertising, and customer engagement. To achieve this, it is essential to approach marketing holistically, investing not only in traditional advertising channels but also in digital and social media platforms. This ensures the restaurant’s message reaches the intended audience, ultimately driving customer loyalty and boosting revenue.

Additionally, restaurant owners are encouraged to track and measure the effectiveness of their marketing campaigns and to make data-driven decisions regarding their marketing investments. By closely monitoring the return on investment (ROI), owners can identify successful marketing strategies and adapt their budgets and efforts accordingly.

In conclusion, a carefully planned marketing strategy that incorporates branding, advertising, and customer engagement is essential for the growth and success of a restaurant. Restaurant owners should consider investing a portion of their gross annual revenue into marketing efforts, regularly reviewing the budget and adjusting their strategies based on data-driven decisions to achieve maximum ROI and overall business success.

Frequently Asked Questions

What percentage of revenue should restaurants allocate for marketing?

Restaurants generally allocate 3-6% of gross sales for their marketing budget. However, the specific percentage may vary depending on the restaurant’s size, location, and strategic goals. Starting with this range, a restaurant owner can adjust the marketing budget based on their individual needs.

What are the most effective marketing strategies for restaurants?

Effective marketing strategies for restaurants include shaping a clear brand identity, creating and promoting tailored content, and engaging with customers on social media platforms. Providing a special dining experience that caters to the target audience’s specific interests also helps in driving customer loyalty and repeat business.

How does the marketing budget for independent restaurants and chains differ?

Independent restaurants usually have smaller marketing budgets compared to chain restaurants, as chains typically have more resources and a recognisable brand. Nonetheless, independent restaurants can still make the most of their budget by focusing on local marketing, social media engagement, and targeted promotions to stand out in their market niche.

What factors influence the marketing budget for a restaurant?

Factors that influence a restaurant’s marketing budget include the size and location of the restaurant, the level of competition, target audience preferences, and the restaurant’s marketing goals. Additionally, the stage of the restaurant’s life cycle (whether it’s a new establishment or an established restaurant) can impact its marketing budget.

How can return on investment be measured for restaurant marketing?

Measuring return on investment (ROI) for restaurant marketing can be challenging since it’s not always a direct revenue figure. However, metrics such as customer acquisition cost, lifetime value of a customer, and customer engagement on social media platforms can provide insights into the effectiveness of the marketing efforts. Tracking conversion rates from different marketing campaigns can help assess which strategies generate the best results.

How often should a restaurant review and adjust its marketing budget?

Restaurant owners should review and adjust their marketing budget at least once a year, but it’s advisable to perform regular evaluations throughout the year. This will help identify marketing efforts that are working well and those that require adjustments. Continuously monitoring the performance of marketing activities allows owners to make informed decisions about the allocation of resources, ensuring the highest ROI possible.