Marketing 101 for Hospitality Operators.

September, 23 2021

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What is marketing with specific regards to hospitality and how can you ensure you have the basics covered for your bar, restaurant or cafe?

The answer to “what really is marketing” lies within the root-term — market.

‘Marketing’ is the activity that helps you define which people in the market are YOUR type of people. Your type of people become your target market.


Where are the meeting of your customers hearts, minds and bellies?

Defining your target market is critical for product development and strategy within any hospitality business.

Marketing is research, analysis, understanding - and then practice.



Marketing in the hospitality industry is not well understood. Most hospitality business come to coaching seeking help with ‘marketing’ which in their minds consists of Facebook ads, banner advertising or email campaigns - purely ‘outside the business door’ activity - and the least effective version.

There is too much excellent data available to be that lazy, and what is happening inside your business is the most important piece of your marketing plan.

There’s no point, for example, in creating an advertising campaign aimed at Baby Boomers if meeting Baby Boomer expectations and preferences have been a weakness in the business over recent months - and you’re not even clear on the nature of those weaknesses.

Outside ‘the business door’ activity is what we call lead generation and lead conversation activity, but lead generation activity is certainly not the heart of marketing.

If owners do not define their target market they aren’t marketing. They are spending time and money advertising without a target in mind, without an understanding of the potential growth of this market, or even accidentally ignoring the fan base they’ve already won.


They are not matching customers hearts, minds and bellies.

What does a successful marketing campaign look like?

A successful marketing campaign asks two questions:

  1. WHO is our current fan base?
  2. WHO are our potential target markets?

To answer those questions properly, some business history needs to be understood with clarity … and not just by gut feeling - I’m always shocked by the difference between an owners ‘gut feeling’ about their business strengths and weaknesses and the reality delivered by data and process.

Don’t even think about ‘advertising’ or identifying target markets until you’ve completed a classic SWOT analysis or something to similar effect. You then need to consider an Opportunity Analysis - and balance your ability to deliver to a particular target AND what the potential ROI will be.

These sound like difficult steps, but they are easy and and can be completed in an afternoon - you will save thousands of dollars and generate a great deal more business for the time and effort you put in.

The number of businesses I’ve seen fold 6-months into a time consuming and sometimes expensive marketing campaign is frustrating. They speed ahead without any consideration of their biggest threats, and zero analysis of likely hurdles or even their ability to deliver with their existing resource.


What is often standard practice in other industries is almost ignored in ours.

Knowledge of your current customer segments are vital, because maximising on those segments first is critical.


Some things to consider for segment prioritisation:

  • Number of current clients in that segment
  • Services used
  • Potential number of service moments
  • Number of enquiries/Potential enquires
  • Weight of your competition
  • Current resources & competencies

How you identify your segments is less important than your ability to measure them.


All segments must be homogenous (identifiable), accessible (targetable) and measurable (to justify the targeting).

AND the segments must be prioritised to your objectives and resources, and STABLE in terms of future behaviour.


So before you start consider …

  • Age groups
  • Location groups
  • Occupation groups
  • Lifestyle preferences
Now think about …
  • Awareness - can they be made aware successfully?
  • Availability - can the product/service be made available to them successfully?
  • Affordability - can the segment afford the product/service?
  • Acceptability - can you ensure the product/service is outstanding?
  • Promotion - consider the ‘potential influence’ of the segment.



Once you have a deeper understanding of your business and your current customer base - then, and only then, should you tailor your message and method.

Then you will connect with the right hearts, minds and bellies … and they will all want a second date.

So what steps could you take to get your marketing on track?

Well we’d prefer you did a full marketing plan - but at the very least, take a deep look at your current fan base. Think about detailing 2 to 4 fan profiles. A fan profile is a group that loves what you do, and continues to come back and tell others to try your business.

Write down as much as you can about each profile then determine how you will engage with this group of fans.

These fan groups generate as much as 80% of your businesses revenue each year, so figuring out who they are and what they need from you should be a key outcome of your marketing activities.


Learn more from James and The Hospitality Company Team

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