Budget Season

Restaurant Marketing Budget season is dreaded, along with the private event sales budgets. Predicting how much output you’ll need and the level of incoming business you’ll receive is a delicate game - one that is only becoming more confusing as time goes along. Here’s some tips on the combination of initiatives that make for a good marketing plan, and facets that you should build into your annual marketing budget:

Events & Experiences:

Whether you’re tagging on to an already existing event, or developing an event that your brand ‘owns,’ it’s important to include these items in your budget. You’d be surprised how many restaurant owners and marketers will budget the cost to participate in an event, but not the food, beverage, labor and/or printing costs—all of which you need to take into account when considering your overall spend. Generally we tell clients to reach out to events they intend to participate in to ask what the current year’s rates were, and add a percentage for year-over-year increases. Some events will even honor current year’s pricing if you commit early.

Social Media:

Whether you use Hootsuite, Planoly or hire a consultant, you’ll need to account for all of the posting (time/labor), content creation (will you hire a photographer or use someone internally?), software and promotions (yes, you should boost some posts on social media), make sure to plan for this as you look at your campaign calendar.

Traditional Advertising:

If it makes sense for your company, make sure to get quotes for traditional advertising—and designing different messaging, campaigns, and offers for each to track ROI. Not every company should take out a billboard or do a direct mailer, but if it makes sense for your brand, build this in.


Many organizations will take food as a ‘trade’ for advertising or exposure, but you have to remember that the food, too, is an expense. Not to mention the labor, decor, etc. As well as any design fees for ads that need to be created.


As in our last blog, we encourage all businesses to find at least one association that they are active participants in. Membership fees and event ticket fees should be considered against overall budget.