A universal challenge of restaurant marketing managers across the globe is the drought of customers during an off-peak season. As much as it has become an industry buzzword, it’s worth noting that for a lot of hospitality businesses, COVID-19 has mimicked an off-season drop off in foot traffic and customers through the door. Staying afloat is the primary focus, and as you’ll likely already be well versed in, COVID-19 has also been the catalyst for a tightening of purse strings in terms of marketing budget.

Herein lies the monumental challenge that the restaurant industry faces; how to run a successful marketing campaign during an off season or covid-induced climate – without an extensive ad-spend.

Harness Segmentation to Ensure Your Messaging Lands

The number one mistake to make when marketing during an off-season or climate like COVID-19 is to cast the net far and wide and see what lands. During a peak season when customers are frequent and budgets are higher, you might be better poised to expand your reach, but during an off-season, fundamental to a successful tactic is to really nail down your segmentation of audience and customers.

This will ensure that any messaging you send out during the off-peak period hits the right people at the right time, and no budget is lost on dead leads. If you’re not already reviewing who your customers are or feel like you could use a tightening of the ship in terms of audience segmentation, here’s a quick outline of how to get on top of it.

  1. Decide how you’re going to segment your audience for marketing purposes. Depending on the type of restaurant(s) you run the answer to this might be quite obvious, but if not here’s a good infographic that will help to refine your segmentation.
Image Source: Seven Rooms
  1. Conduct persona research and gain an understanding of what a customer within each of your pre-defined market segments looks like. There are a number of ways you can do this, but we’d recommend starting with asking your current customers to fill out feedback forms to get an understanding of who they are and what they like. Remember, this should always be data driven and notassumption based.
  2. Develop a scalable plan to reach these segments effectively. If we go back to the wide-net casting analogy, building advertising campaigns during off-peak seasons without a highly defined target audience and content / events designed to connect with a segmented audience and personas is a surefire way to reduce the accuracy of who sees your marketing and use ad-spend where it doesn’t count.


Use email lists to send highly personalised emails to your database of customers, retarget ads to audiences that reflect your personas, build event marketing strategies around your personas and ensure your messaging connects – you’re guaranteed to have a higher hit-rate using segments than marketing without. 

Hungry for more info like this? From our extensive experience of marketing in the hospitality industry, we’ve put together a number of pro tips.

Find them in First Table’s Resources for Restaurateurs

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