It’s common for startup restaurants to budget an initial 10% of their sales to go toward marketing in the first few months. If no one knows who you are, it can take some $’s to get known.
After that, it’s more common to see 2-4% of your sales being directed toward marketing. As far as how to break that down, that depends on a lot of factors, including your ability to do much of the work yourself. The less you are in the business working, and the greater ability you have to design and print your own materials, the less of your sales you will spend on marketing. Different marketing mediums work differently for each business also.
No matter what you budget, you’ll want to focus your personal effort first on the most inexpensive marketing tactics, like shaking hands and giving out samples with menus to get your name and product in front of people. You’ll also want to concentrate a lot of effort on building your customer database. Marketing dollars spent communicating with anyone who has already been in your restaurant will most likely yield the greatest return on marketing dollars.
Of other factors that will determine how much you need to budget, your location, visibility, and accessability are the most important. A good location, combined with ease of access, and visible, well designed signage can go a long ways to drive traffic into your business, eliminating some of the need for costly marketing campaigns.
Your message itself will also affect how much you will have to spend on marketing too. If you have a good unique selling proposition, and use it effectively, you’ll have to spend less to get people in your door. If your concept is confusing to people, if you try to be too many different things to too many people, or if you fail to follow through with your USP’s promise, you’ll have a hard time filling seats no matter how much you spend.