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A marketing audit is a planned and organized methodology to assess the effectiveness of a business’s marketing efforts over a period of time. Important data is collected and analyzed, and reviewing areas such as brand voice, positioning, target audience, attribution mechanisms, internal operations, and current market trends allows management to get a clearer picture of where a business is headed with its marketing strategies. A suggested cycle for an audit is every three years, but some businesses conduct one every year. 

A thorough evaluation of your marketing strategy is a must for every restaurant, whether a national chain or a small eatery in a strip mall. An audit shows you where your marketing efforts have been successful and effective and where they have fallen short and need to be modified.

How a restaurant marketing audit is conducted. 

In order to keep your restaurant operating at its apex and keep it vibrant and viable in an ever-changing market and competitive environment, much effort, consideration, and research must be put forth to formulate a marketing plan. A correctly formulated marketing plan can be a hefty but necessary investment.

For a marketing plan to be successful, accurate research must be conducted and a foundation set in place. Before the marketing plan is undertaken, it must be preceded by a marketing audit which is often times omitted. The marketing audit will inform the marketing plan of areas that need to be changed or updated.

A successful restaurant marketing audit consists of several steps and considerations:

Who should conduct the audit? An audit of your restaurant’s marketing strategy can be costly if done by an outside agency, so many restaurant owners decide to conduct the audit using their own management team and staff. However, this may cost the business even more than it would retain a professional marketing auditor as they may lack the expertise in doing so correctly.

A professional auditor objectively looks at your restaurant and can uncover operations and marketing strategies that need to be changed or eliminated. Conversely, an in-house audit is biased and subjective—consider the adage, “Can’t see the forest for the trees.” 

Internal auditors may not want to report issues that might affect their jobs or lack the knowledge to make helpful marketing recommendations. Investing the capital in a professional auditor whose ideas and insight will most likely bring future revenue to your restaurant is better.

After determining who will conduct the audit, it’s time to gather and collect information. The auditor will conduct research by examining the restaurant’s marketing history, including conducting interviews with the marketing team and administering surveys and questionnaires. The data collected will focus on the internal and external environments and current marketing strategies.

The collected data is analyzed using classic marketing tools such as SWOT (strength, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis and PEST (Political, environmental, socio-economic, and technological) analysis.

Based on the data analysis, the auditor or auditing team prepares a marketing report for management and makes recommendations of changes that should be made based on the analyzed data.

Why a restaurant audit is important to your business.

A bird’s eye view

Good or bad, a marketing audit gives you an overall view of your restaurant’s direction from a marketing standpoint. If the analysis reflects a strong marketing strategy, it may be necessary to tweak the present program slightly.

If the results indicate that your current marketing strategy is falling short of expectations, you may want to rethink your approach or go back to the drawing board and start anew. 

A restaurant marketing audit provides a yardstick.

If you don’t have a solid idea of how your restaurant marketing efforts have performed in the past, it will be difficult to determine the changes you must make in your marketing efforts going forward. A marketing audit provides a benchmark for future planning and emphasizes recommendations to improve successful strategies and replace failed tactics.

A marketing audit is a check on business strategy.

Is your present business strategy producing the results you expect in your restaurant? A marketing audit not only sheds light on your marketing practices but can also help management make informed decisions on future business objectives.

A restaurant marketing audit will reveal problems and address remediation.

Put simply, a marketing audit will tell you where your dollars are going and if they are going to the right places in your restaurant. There might be inefficiencies occurring that you are not aware of. Catching these money-wasting activities before they become potentially catastrophic situations can save thousands of dollars in your operation.

A restaurant marketing audit can create a competitive edge.

A good marketing audit should include a competitor analysis. Many restaurants are doing business in your local orbit and online, and you want to differentiate yours from the pack.

The audit should determine how restaurants in related cuisines compare to yours regarding service, menu, cleanliness, and demographics. Online presence is also essential: are your competitors ranking higher in Google searches than you? How many engaged followers do you have on your social channels compared to your competitors? These questions should be answered and addressed to stay ahead of your competition.

A marketing audit gets your team excited for the future.

As mentioned above, an in-house marketing audit can be subjective, biased, and, frankly, deceiving. A well-meaning management team can overlook important details and, in addressing a reasonable suggestion, might say, “We’ve always done it this way— why change it now.”

The most accurate and effective marketing audit should be conducted by an outside firm with experience in the field and offers a new “set of eyes” without prejudice and bias. The professional opinions and unique options you receive will revamp your management team and restaurant.


Chances are you are spending a good percentage of your budget on marketing for your restaurant. You want the dollars you invest in promoting your business to make the most significant impact. However, some restaurant owners will continue to throw money into an ineffective marketing scheme and hope for the best. That’s never a good option.

If you are not getting the return on investment expected from your marketing efforts, consider spending a small portion of your marketing budget on a marketing audit. The benefits listed above will more than make up the money spent on a marketing audit for your restaurant. You may not see the changes overnight, but investing in a marketing audit and implementing its recommendations will ensure your restaurant grows and thrives well into the future. 

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