How the 4 P’s of Restaurant Marketing Can Help Your Menu

diner with menu.jpg

Take any marketing class, and you’ll run into a principle called the 4 P’s of Marketing. The concept was created back in 1960 by E. Jerome McCarthy and has been used worldwide by marketing companies ever since.

Since your menu is your No. 1 marketing tool, we can use this principle to help dial in your menu to maximize profit potential. Here is a breakdown of how you can use it to enhance your business:


Menus can become a dumping ground for ideas. Some ideas work within the brand and some fight with it. The problem begins when restaurant owners and chefs start designing their menu for their ego. Now don’t misunderstand — having a healthy ego is almost a requirement in this industry. We’re talking about those items that are so far outside the brand identity that they just don’t make sense. Like the gourmet hamburger concept with chicken fried rice on the menu. Why?

When you’re putting items on your menu, you need to think of it as a well composed symphony instead of a mixtape of different genres and time periods. Your menu is not the place to show off a variety of menu items poorly executed. In baseball, there are basically 23 different types of pitches, but most pitchers rely only on five. It’s far better to execute a few things well than a bunch of items mediocre.


You also need to price your menu correctly. You might think this is common sense. However, common sense is not as common as you think.

When posed the question, “How did you come up with the price for that?,” a common response is, “Well, that’s what the guy down the street is charging.” This leads to a whole conversation segue such as:

“Do you know if he’s making a profit?”

“Is he buying product of the same price you are?”

“Do you know what his overhead is?”

It’s at this point most owners get the deer-in-the-headlights look.

Your pricing should be contingent upon what it costs you to produce, market, and cover expenses. You also need to consider what your market will bear. In New Mexico, a gourmet burger in Albuquerque can go for $10. That exact same hamburger in Santa Fe can go for $14. 



How do we get guests to buy more of what you want? Simple: you engineer your menu. This is where the science of menu design comes into play.

Certain areas of your menu are like premium real estate. Beverly Hills and Hollywood are fairly close to each other, yet the pricing of houses is dramatically different. You also need to understand that engineering on a single-page menu is different than a multi-panel menu.

Here are a few quick tips to maximize your menu placement:

  1. Price justification: Move your prices to the end of the description so they don’t stand out. You want people to fall in love with the item and then stumble upon the price.

  2. Boxing: Yes, placing a few (emphasis on the word few) boxes around high profit items will draw the guests to look at it a second time.

  3. Better headlines: Try to come up with headlines will little more pizzazz than just appetizers and entrées. How about starters and signatures?


You can build an amazing menu with the right products, the right pricing, and menu engineer that menu for maximum potential. Without training your team on how to make recommendations and inform the guests of what makes your chicken and waffle so incredible, you’re missing sales.

Great restaurants don’t just train when they hire someone new; they make training a priority and a constant process. The fastest way to grow your sales is to grow your people.

Developing a training plan for your team not only ensures your guest are happy, but also ensures your team stays happy. Most restaurants today struggle with attracting and retaining staff. One way to stand out in your recruiting efforts is to offer a comprehensive, multi-level training program that offers increased compensation with increased knowledge and skills development.

A phrase you hear a lot in the corporate environment is “employee engagement.” Basically, it’s the relationship between an organization and its employee. An employee who is “engaged” is enthusiastic, positive, and takes action to enhance the restaurant’s brand.

Highly engaged employees impact performance metrics in a number of key areas including:

  • Reduced absenteeism

  • Reduced turnover

  • Reduced theft

  • Reduced safety incidents

  • Increase quality

  • Score higher customer service

  • Have higher productivity

As you can see, having a solid training program in place pays for itself many times over. There is the classic story of two businessmen discussing the implementation of a training program for their business:

“What if I spend all this time and money to train them and they leave?”

 The reply, “What if you don’t train them and they stay?”

Look at the Yelp reviews in any major market and you can quickly pick out the trend of poorly trained staff. Lack of training is an epidemic in the restaurant industry. And it’s a problem that can be solved — by you.

Learn more about the 4 P’s of marketing and how to apply it to your 2019 plan by watching the video below.