Who handles your restaurant’s marketing and PR? Does your restaurant chain have someone Instagram-ing in head office? Maybe you have an agency that manages your press and social profiles? Or do expect your manager and their team to generate the hype? If marketing and PR isn’t anyone’s remit right now, you’ll definitely want to read this. In this post, we’re talking through the pros and cons of trusting people inside and outside of your business to keep those customers coming.
Your General Manager
In single-venue HORECA restaurants businesses, marketing and PR often fall to the General Manager. Even in chains, managers are frequently expected to take the lead on promotions and events. Your manager should know your business and customer base inside out. But let’s be honest, depending on their background, they may not be particularly qualified to carry out your marketing.
General Managers who are ideas people are likely to have good suggestions for plugging gaps in custom or attracting new diners. But do they know how best to reach those people or how to get ROI from your PR and marketing budget? And do they really have the time to dedicate to executing proper campaigns? Managing social media profiles, organising press nights and planning events is time-consuming. There’s no denying that General Managers tend to be an incredibly dedicated bunch. But with all the operational stuff to deal with, it’s hard for a General Manager to run promotional efforts to their full potential. And of course, there’s the important issue of their work-life balance to consider too.
Other Staff Members
There are some pretty attractive advantages to keeping marketing and promotion activities in-house. Your staff should know your brand, offering and customers better than outsiders. If you have someone on-site handling things it’s easier to be reactive too. For example, you can advertise availability following a last-minute table cancellation. Or you could promote a particular dish or drink that matches the weather forecast, something that’s tricky to plan in advance.
You find you already have some staff members with useful marketing and PR skills. Is one of your team studying photography or into blogging? Encouraging staff members to combine an interest in marketing with a front of house or junior management role can prove savvy for smaller businesses.
This way, the people at the heart of the action are those driving marketing. Being able to grow your marketing and PR efforts in-house like this can be a real plus when you’re working with a limited budget. It also has the potential to guide an individual’s self-development as they acquire other marketing and PR skills.
A Dedicated Marketing Manager
In independents with several sites or chains, it’s much more common to find dedicated marketing and PR manager. These guys plan communications and promotions across venues while applying brand consistency. If your business isn’t quite at this stage yet, having a dedicated marketing person might seem like a big financial commitment, but it can actually offer really good value. You know that the person in charge of your marketing dedicates all their time to drive your business and brand forward.
According to Glassdoor, the average salary in the UK for a Restaurant Group Marketing Manager is between £36,000 and £39,000. A manager working with one site would command substantially less. Take the time to set goals and track ROI of your hire and you’ll see how much value they bring to your business.
The actions of a good marketing and PR manager ought to win you consistent custom as well as coverage. And with time to dedicate to individual events and campaigns as well as an overall strategy, you should find marketing and PR types feed trends and market insights back into your business.
A Marketing or PR Agency
If you want to work with someone or a group of people who have marketing or PR skills and experience but would prefer not to commit to employing your own member of staff, hiring a marketing or PR agency is a common choice. You can hire an agency or freelancer to work on your business launch or on a specific campaign such as a new menu launch or event promotion. Or, you might opt to work with them on a retainer basis.
Narrow the field by working with people who have a specific focus on hospitality and you should expect to benefit from their established network of press and influencers. You’ll also want to be reassured that they have plenty of ideas to help your business shine. But can anyone external to the business fully get what it’s about? Vickie Rogers, Managing Director at North PR thinks that hiring a professional is often the key to telling the best stories for your audience, something that’s often easier when you’re on the outside looking in.
She told us: “Owning a restaurant/bar/cafe in this day in age is hard. It’s an incredibly competitive market and customers are much more picky about where they spend their money. You have to shout louder and with more compelling stories than the place next door. “
“I personally think that freelance/agency PR/social support for restaurants is a really cost-effective way of getting an experienced team who can develop campaigns that deliver. You don’t know what you don’t know, and many businesses don’t tell the right stories about their business. Creating a compelling narrative that ‘turns on’ their customers, sometimes, can only be unearthed by an external independent team.”
Super-charging your efforts
For many restaurants, the biggest factor in deciding who handles marketing and PR inevitably comes down to budget. When a restaurant or bar is starting out they often rely on the General Manager or team members to do most of the everyday promotion. They may bring in agency specialists for important campaigns. It’s when a business goes multi-site that they’re likely to hire a group restaurant manager and step their efforts up. Whichever avenue you head down, the key to getting the most for your money is to consistently set clear goals and continually measure progress.
It’s also important to use all the tools at your disposal. As Vickie points out – you don’t know what you don’t know. At STAMPEDE WiFi, we work with businesses of all sizes to use analytics and data to supercharge their marketing efforts. Whoever is handling your restaurant marketing and PR, our experience shows that the right data can help direct your marketing budget more effectively and keep customers coming back.
Find out how STAMPEDE can enhance your marketing and customer experience.