It is no secret that the bar and restaurant industry is oversaturated with competitors. As a stakeholder in a location, you need to have a clear understanding about the steps you need to take to differentiate yourself from the competition. In order to accomplish this, developing a marketing plan is necessary.
A marketing plan does not simply involve what kind of food and beverages you’ll serve or what sort of promotions you’ll offer your guests; rather, the best marketing plans are a three-phased approach to strategically position your location to gain a competitive advantage within your industry. It requires a clear vision of what you want your restaurant or bar to be, as well as a true commitment to the plan itself.
Phase 1: Planning
Step 1: Create/Develop Your Business Objectives and Mission
The first step in the creation of a marketing plan for your venue is to create or redevelop your objectives for your business. Figure out what will make your location different compared to those in your area — why will customers want to choose your place when there are so many options out there? Without a clear understanding of what you want your bar or restaurant to be, then all of the following steps will become useless.
Step 2: Conduct a Situational Analysis
This step requires you to really figure out where your venue exists when compared to the competition. Conduct a SWOT analysis where you analyze your location’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Be honest with yourself about your restaurant or bar. It will have its fair share of weaknesses and threats. By becoming more aware of your venue’s disadvantages, you will be better prepared to fix them.
Phase 2: Implementation
Step 3: Identify Opportunities
As a business owner, it is your responsibility to accurately identify your target market. Find out what demographics will be more likely to frequent your establishment based on your business objectives and mission. Yes, in a perfect world, people of all ages, income levels and behaviors would be a patron of your restaurant or bar, but that is almost never the case. Figure out your target market of consumers and then implement changes in your venue to position yourself to best attract them.
Step 4: Position Your Business for Success
After you’ve figured out the demographics of your target market, begin to position yourself to best suit their preferences. Adjustments to your price points, promotions, events and menu options are all possible changes you can make to best suit your segmented market.
Phase 3: Control
Step 5: Evaluate Performance
The fifth and final step happens a while after the first four steps. This is where you evaluate your restaurant or bar’s performance to see if the changes you made have led to a positive impact. Should the results not be ideal, then you may have to redo the steps of your marketing plan.
The End Result
Your location’s own marketing plan needs to consider your position in the marketplace. It needs to account for your weaknesses and potential threats, while taking advantage of your strengths and possible opportunities available. You also need to accurately identify who your target market is and then position your venue to best draw them in. As a stakeholder in a bar or restaurant, you need to be comfortable with admitting that changes are necessary in your venue and then do your best to fix them. Without a clear and committed vision for the direction your bar or restaurant will take going forward, you will end up taking steps backward. However, if you develop a strong marketing plan for your restaurant that you and your staff are totally behind, you will reap the benefits of a strategic advantage over your competition.