03 Jun Structuring a Digital Marketing Plan for Restaurants
A detailed plan is a vital aspect of any marketing campaign. Unfortunately, many restaurants either don’t have a marketing plan or have one, but don’t have the time resource or knowledge to undertake the recommended activities effectively to ensure successful outcomes.
So as a business, how can you successfully create a digital marketing plan?
A digital marketing plan is a document that states and shares the details for your digital marketing campaigns or actions. Among other things, it should detail your:
- Business goals – SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant,Timely) aims and objectives;
- Strategies to achieve the goals at the digital level;
- Marketing channels that will be utilised;
- Action and development plans;
- Investment and budget;
- Roadmap/schedule that will be used to achieve these goals.
It’s at this point that we would strongly advise engaging the advice and expertise of a marketing professional; however we also know that budgets can be limited. Therefore, the following step-by-step structure can be used to create a digital marketing plan.
Created in the 1990s, the SOSTAC® planning model, originally developed by PR Smith, is generally used by marketers across the world, as the framework of choice for different scales of business. It covers six key areas, which will be discussed in this post:
- Situation Analysis – analysing where a business is now
- Objectives – identifying where a business would like to be
- Strategy – identifying and choosing the best methods to achieve these objectives
- Tactics – the tools that will be used to ensure a business achieves the identified objectives
- Action – how this plan will be actioned
- Control – methods to determine if the objectives have been met, and if the marketing activities have been a success
Stage 1 - Situation Analysis
Stage 1 of implementing this digital marketing planning framework is setting out a situation analysis. This should provide an overview of your business, who you are, what you do, and how you currently engage or perhaps trade online. A marketing audit of your current activities should form part of this analysis. Many companies fail to perform a situation analysis when creating digital marketing campaigns; and subsequently this can result in the creation of unrealistic objectives, or the use of tactics which are ineffective. By undertaking this analysis, a business can look to understand trends in the current market, their current customer base, the resources available within the company, and what competitors are doing.
- At a basic level be prepared to look at who your customers currently are, how they are interacting with you online, the platforms that they prefer to use and their demographic breakdown.
- Carry out a SWOT Analysis – this is a useful framework that allows you to look at the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and weaknesses for your business and the market at large.
- Analyse your competitors – who are they? How do they compete? Is it on price point, the dishes they serve, customer service, reputation, concept – what are the key differentiators?
- Identify your key digital channels – what is working well? What isn’t? Is your website customer-oriented? How is the usability and browsing experience? Do you update your blog periodically? Where are you positioned in search engines? What is your social media presence – are you even present?
Stage 2 - Objectives
The objectives stage is crucial as this is where you will set out your marketing plan goals based on the findings from the situation analysis. Everything you plan has to work towards meeting those objectives.
You can work on developing this part of your digital marketing plan with the SMART goals framework in mind. Therefore, any objective should be specific, measureable, achievable, relevant and timely. For example, at a social media level an objective may be to place your restaurant firmly in the forefront of the minds of the target audience, encourage engagement and subsequently reservations, by increasing your number of followers on Facebook by 1000 within 6 months.
Stage 3 - Strategy
The strategy stage is where you need to define the best methods for achieving your aims and objectives; for example, if you wish to improve your website statistics and engage with your audience, we would advise to implement a content strategy. On the other hand, if a restaurant wishes to acquire new customers or retain regular diners, we would advise the implementation of a customer acquisition or customer retention strategy. Strategies should look at your target audience and their segmentation, personalisation, and communicating your unique value proposition to recognise a few elements.
Once the correct strategy to reach the objectives is in place, you can begin to decide on the best tactics to implement.
Step 4 - Tactics
Tactics cover the specific tools of the digital mix that you plan to use to achieve the objectives of your digital marketing plan. Unfortunately, it is also usually the stage that many businesses jump to straight away. This can cause more harm than good, as you can easily waste money on per per click advertising, especially if you don’t have anyway to track whether your campaign is working, or whether you have received any return on your investment.
To help achieve the objectives that you have identified above, it’s best to use the 7Ps of the Marketing Mix to focus on the key attributes to be considered. These could include, but are not limited to the following key areas:
- Product – produce being used, quality, location, seasonality, positioning in the marketplace
- Price – quality, value proposition, customer perception, how much are people willing to pay for a dish?
- Place – location, destination vs passing trade, competition within the area
- Promotion – integrated online and offline marketing activities, will you be using third party platforms?
- People – front of house, management, chefs, skills, training and knowledge. A customers experience with your brand should be at the forefront of everything you do.
- Physical Evidence – ambience, concept, quality of produce, experience received, how do you want people to feel leaving your restaurant?
- Process – look at overall processes, management, customer service, reservation system, covers, turnover rate.
Most digital marketing campaigns will include involve integrating online tactics such as social media management and content creation, website development and search engine optimisation, pay per click, and email marketing, with offline activities.
Step 5 - Actions
The actions stage is where your digital marketing plan gets put into place. Many companies will create a schedule, or at least a timeline which indicates when certain tactics will be used and the duration that they will be used. This may take into consideration opening hours, specific events, and seasonality, to name a few.
Step 6 - Control
As with most plans, the work doesn’t stop after you’ve designed and implemented your digital marketing strategy. The next step is one of the most important: analysing the results. Analytics is critical for successfully optimising digital marketing performance and spending, and key performance indicators should be set per tactic, to ensure that you can track on a weekly on monthly basis whether objectives are being met.
If your plan has been created with knowledge, the control procedures should show whether the marketing campaign is working or not. Depending on the tactics that you have utilised, there are a variety of different tools that you can use to monitor your Key Performance Indicators including Google Analytics, Instagram and Facebook Insights. This data can then feed back into the previous stages to see if any procedures need improving.
Essentially the control element is there to identify what worked, what didn’t work, and what can be improved going forward in the future. For example, if your restaurant’s goal was to increase the number of diners booking through your website, Google Analytics can track this data and show the results. If the goals are being achieved then the procedures can be fine-tuned for greater improvement, but if not, Google Analytics can help a business understand why, and can help you implement changes to ensure the objectives are met. It’s also vital to remember that communication is key, if you’re looking to implement a change, always address your concerns with the wider team to ensure there is buy-in to the plan.
This guide is here to provide an overview in terms of developing a digital marketing plan for your business. However, if you would like any further advice, please feel free to drop us a message and we’d love to have a chat to see how we can help.