Restaurant Marketing Budget 101: How to Set up Your Business for Success

restaurant marketing budget

Marketing is essential for any business. Your restaurant doesn't exist online if you don't invest time and money in marketing. But how much money should you spend, and where to ensure you get the results you are set on?

In this article, you will find all the information you need to create a restaurant marketing budget, from choosing your goals and selecting the channels you wish to promote your business to average budget suggestions according to your development stage.

Start with a long-term restaurant marketing plan

Before thinking about money, you must establish what you want to accomplish with your marketing. To create an accurate restaurant marketing budget plan for a restaurant, you have to set your business objectives and goals.

What are your marketing goals

Begin by writing down your goals for the future, splitting them into easy to monitor time-periods, such as monthly, quarterly, or yearly.

The objectives should not be vague, such as "I want more return clients." but very clear. For example, "I want to increase my sales by 15% in the next quarter", or "I want 10% more conversions from social media compared to last month".

The goals should also be attainable, otherwise, you may end up disappointed. You can't expect 50% more profit than your competitors if you just opened your restaurant. Analyze your results in the previous years and come up with great but feasible objectives.

Here are some questions that will help you identify your goals:

  • Do you want to invest in a new platform, such as a website or online ordering system?
  • Are you planning to expand to new social media platforms, such as TikTok?
  • What social media network brought you the most leads until now?
  • Do you want to implement a loyalty program?
  • Is there a way to promote your business you have not tried, such as email marketing?
  • How many sales do you need to obtain a comfortable profit?
  • Is there a discrepancy between sales on different days of the week?

Read more: How to Set Restaurant Goals and Lead Your Business to Success

What channels are you going to use

For a successful marketing strategy, the channels you choose to promote your restaurant must be the ones frequently used by your audience. If you have a food truck aimed at young people, you will have a better result by advertising on Instagram and TikTok than on Facebook.

Therefore, you must identify your audience before creating a restaurant marketing budget. What people do you target with your restaurant's food and ambiance? Here are some tips for finding out who your audience is:

  • Check out your competitors: research restaurants in the same location that serve similar food and have the same price range and see what the demographics of their public are;
  • Research national resources: look up information about the most recent census on your local government website to see who lives near your restaurant. Are there more single people or families?
  • Enlist the help of your employees: have them start a conversation with the diners and find their preferences. What do they like about your food? What improvements do they think can be made to your restaurant?

Restaurant marketing budget breakdown on areas

Creating a restaurant marketing budget starts by dividing and conquering. Let's break your budget into several important areas to see how much money you would need to invest on each platform and channel and decide which ones are worth it for your business.


You can't own a successful restaurant without having a website to promote it. While you may choose not to organize contests and jump on the latest social media trends, you can not skimp on a website.

A restaurant’s website is the first thing a potential client interacts with and is crucial for converting visitors to customers.

A good website must be easy to navigate, contain all the relevant information your customers may need, and be SEO-optimized with relevant keywords so people find your restaurant on the first page of Google.

Read more: Complete On-Page Restaurant SEO Practical Guide: How to Rank High

Finding website developers to make a great restaurant website used to be hard and pricey. But you don't have to waste all your marketing budget on this. You can get a sales-optimized website for a small price if you become a GloriaFood member.

Get a sales optimized website that will skyrocket your sales Online ordering and table reservation widgets included Start now

By signing up, you get access to the easiest restaurant website builder, where you just have to fill in your restaurant's info and online menu to get a website in seconds. The best part is it comes completely customized with your restaurant specifics, tailored text and images, and…already SEO optimized!

Click here to preview what you will get for a set price, with no hidden commissions or setup fees. Ready to start the adventure? Create an account with GloriaFood, go to admin -> Setup -> Publishing -> Sales Optimized Website and enjoy the benefits.

how to create a marketing budget for a restaurant

Read more: Using Your Restaurant Website to Increase Sales

Online ordering system

You could only serve people in your restaurant, but that would be missing out on a big revenue stream. A large category of people who enjoy ordering at home or work could be spending money at your restaurant.

Therefore, if you want to have a big profit margin, it is essential to implement an online ordering system for your business. Do you want to hear the good news for your restaurant marketing budget? You can get one for free from GloriaFood!

Moreover, not only is it free, but also exceptionally easy to use both for you and your clients. After creating an account, you can access various essential features, such as effective promotions, email and SMS marketing campaigns, and necessary data analytics.

But the first step is creating a menu that sells. Go to admin -> Setup -> Menu setup & receive orders -> Menu setup and configure your menu with attractive photos and descriptions. The drag & drop mechanism is easy to use. Check out these detailed video instructions to learn more.

After you publish the menu to your website, visitors will be instantly drawn in as the menu button contrast with the background. You will certainly get repeat customers after they see how easy it is to order directly from your website.

restaurant marketing budget example

Read more: Why you need to have a restaurant with online ordering [Plus a HOW-TO blueprint]

Ordering app

If you want to stand out from your competitors, you need to offer clients the easiest way to order online. And what could be better than your own online ordering app that clients will download and have it work just like any other native app?

Your food will always be just a few clicks away. Furthermore, because the app is personalized with your logo, clients will constantly see it when they use their phone. This will work on their subconscious and when they get hungry, they will be tempted to use the app at their fingertips.

You can get your own branded mobile app from within our online ordering system, by going to admin -> Setup -> Publishing -> Branded mobile app.

restaurant marketing budget

Social media

Social Media is also an important part of a restaurant marketing plan, and it can be divided into organic and paid. Organic refers to the normal posts you make that only reach some of your followers. It will surely help your business grow but at a slower rate compared to paid content.

If you just launched your restaurant or are organizing an event, consider investing in sponsored posts to get the word out about your food to a larger audience. The amount of money you will pay for paid posts/stories depends on several factors:

  • Audience: the bigger the audience, the more money you will invest. Segment your audience according to preferences for the best results;
  • Frequency: while organic posts have best practices for frequency, you choose how often to sponsor a post according to your restaurant marketing budget;
  • Image and content creation: are you creating all the content in-house, or are you paying an agency, copywriter, or graphic designer? It will be cheaper to do it yourself, but if you have no experience, an agency will deliver better results.

Read more: Why Restaurants Need Social Media to Promote Their Online Businesses

Search engine ads

SEO is long-term work that you have to continuously do well so your website can appear on the first page of Google. The results won’t be visible instantly. But you can still get on the first page if you are able to pay.

How does it work? You must create an account on Google AdWords and bid on the search terms most relevant to your business. Practically, you must identify keywords people would use to search for your type of restaurant and pay, so your website is the first one that shows up on Google.

The more specific the keyword, the better the chances are people will actually click on your website and order. Beware, you will pay for every click, and it is not worth it if it does not convert the audience. Go for phrases like "best restaurant in [your location]”, or “pizza restaurant in [your location]” that also have a decent number of monthly searches.

Email marketing

A good marketing strategy will focus both on attracting new clients and retaining existing ones. Email marketing can help you encourage clients that have already ordered or dined at your restaurant to return.

As it could be time-consuming to create new content for email marketing, why not opt for an effective solution that requires a minimum effort on your part?

The Autopilot feature of the GloriaFood online ordering system allows you to set up your email (and SMS) marketing campaigns once and then stand back and enjoy the benefits.

People will receive success-proven email campaigns segmented according to their needs, and you will only have to pay if you get results. Check out this video to learn more about how it works:

Read more: 5 Simple & Effective Customer Retention Strategies for Restaurants


Consider organizing events on special occasions like new menu item launches, promotional events for influencers, sponsoring a festival, etc.

If you do that, you have to incorporate them into the marketing budget for the restaurant. To get the word out at the beginning and create hype around your restaurant, it is advisable to save up a part of your restaurant marketing budget for events.

For example, an influencer event where you pay for everything (food tasting, drinks, music) may cost you quite a bit, but you also get needed exposure. The selected influencers will post about your food, and you may get new clients that will increase your revenue.

Contests/loyalty programs

Everybody loves free food, and you can use a contest to increase your number of followers on social media and drive engagement. When you devise a marketing plan at the start of the month or year, try to also outline the frequency of contests and the prizes you will offer.

It doesn't have to be a huge sum. The prize could be a $100 gift card, a free meal, or even an experience. Contests have multiple benefits, such as increased visibility and encouraging repeat customers (through loyalty programs) that you do not want to miss out on.

Read more: 20 Restaurant Contest Ideas That Will Delight Your Customers

Average restaurant marketing budget according to your business

After establishing your goals and choosing the areas you must spend money on, we have arrived at the important question: how much should a restaurant budget on marketing?

The average marketing budget for a restaurant is about 3%-10% and even more if they are at the start and need to create a name for themselves.

Let’s see how the amount you spend on marketing changes according to seniority and success:

Brand-new restaurant

You should consider the marketing budget for a restaurant start up as an investment in the future, as you will not see an instant return. But it is a necessary investment as marketing is the only way to get the word out about your restaurant and encourage people to try your food.

Therefore, at the start, expect to spend about 25% - 35% of your sales on marketing. If you have a lot of competition, you have to transform your restaurant into a brand and differentiate yourself from any other similar restaurant, so it will be more in the 35% range.

Luckily, as a small, brand-new restaurant, you can spend less on marketing by installing a free online ordering system and exploring all the other free restaurant services GloriaFood offers.

Established and growing restaurant

Just because you see results from your marketing efforts, it doesn't mean you should stop. People may now know about your business, but to keep getting new clients and motivating old ones to return, you will still have to spend quite a bit of money on marketing.

The good news is that you can now go lower, from 10% to 18%, and continue decreasing only after you are a well-known name on the market that people trust and continually order from.

In time, you will notice a big connection between marketing and sales and even find an equilibrium that works best for you.

Restaurant in decline

Many people mistakenly believe that if the restaurant is in decline, marketing is the first cost they should cut. But the solution is to perform a thorough analysis and find out what is not working.

Maybe you are using the wrong marketing channels, have an outdated website, or you don't offer the experience people want.

If you notice your business is declining, you should actually up the restaurant marketing budget percentage by at least 3% and continue growing until you see results.

Read more: Why Do Restaurants Fail and How to Save a Failing Restaurant

Remember that all these are suggestions, so you must closely monitor the return on every investment and adapt. As the restaurant business is influenced by a number of factors (seasonality, economic changes, etc.), your profit will change quite often, so you should modify your restaurant marketing budget quarterly.

Tips on efficient marketing budgeting for restaurants

Creating an efficient marketing budget for your restaurant will help you achieve the desired results without taking away money from other important areas, such as ingredients or customer experience. Check out these tips that will help keep you on track:

  • Be aware of restaurant seasonality: there are times when restaurants just aren’t as busy dye to a variety of factors. You can choose to invest more in marketing in the busy season to make up the sales for the slow period;
  • Track your marketing efforts: how will you know if your money is well spent if you don’t monitor your results? Take advantage of great tools, like the Reporting module embedded in our online ordering system to notice if your efforts help you reach your goals.
  • Be open to change: if a strategy you have in place doesn’t work, let it go, and find something new. For example, if your marketing efforts on Facebook don’t translate into clients, maybe you should focus on Instagram and TikTok to attract more customers.


To create a restaurant marketing budget, you must have clear goals and do research to determine what are the best marketing channels for you. The above suggestions will help guide you at the start, but in time, you will come to learn what works for you and what areas you should invest more money in to get the best results.

Otilia Dobos

Otilia Dobos is sometimes a content writer, other times a copywriter, but always produces high-quality content that helps clients up their marketing game. She devotes her attention to helping restaurant owners have a successful business with well-documented and SEO-optimized articles.

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