The National Restaurant Association (USA) has reported the average restaurant marketing budget is three percent (3%) of total revenues. Critics argue this point and we’ve seen budgets ranging from zero to six percent (6%). We believe this depends on the brand, operations performance, market conditions and a host of other variables. Yet, while many can generally agree on a reasonable allocation of overall sales, they pay surprisingly little attention to how the money is allocated beyond just falling into the “marketing budget”. Once you have the allocation, where does it go? Budgeting for digital marketing should be part of your toolkit.
We recommend that of the three percent (3%) allocated to the marketing/advertising line-item, forty-percent (40%) of that be dedicated to digital marketing and publicity efforts. Going further still though, the budget, the strategy, timelines, the tactics, the messages, must now all be succinctly distilled and then divided among a number of cutting-edge new digital media categories. This list of vehicles is mind-boggling and it only continues to grow and fragment. You’ve got the Internet and Intranet, search engine optimization and Pay Per Click advertising, digital signage, narrowing-casting and Podcasting, RSS feeds, social media and social networks, Wiki’s, Widgets, Mash-ups, Analytics – the list grows and grows. These are sustainable emerging technologies too – not just fly by night digital jargon.
The marketing rules have changed in the digital era and the train is moving like a bullet. Yes, the principles of marketing – the four P’s, brand strategy, etc. – these remain as true today as ever. They are bedrock and all too often marketers chase the latest fad while forgetting proven principles to restaurant branding. While maintaining a close connection to the fundamentals of restaurant marketing we should also be reaching out to discover the innovative new approaches that will prove to be game-changers. It all sounding complicated and overwhelming isn’t a good excuse for ignoring the seismic shift that’s afoot.
Digital marketing is has only started to become recognized as a powerful tool in the restaurant marketers toolkit. Today it represents a tiny fraction of the overall restaurant marketing budget for chains and independents alike. Given that more than 30% of restaurant customers will visit the restaurants website before visiting the restaurant itself, getting a solid web presence and supporting it with a strong digital marketing and publicity campaign is more important than ever.