How To Formulate A Foolproof Catering Marketing Plan

Michael Attias Sep 21, 2016

As a lefty, I have always done things backwards. As a kid, I read magazines from back cover to the front reading the ads and skipping the articles.

Since the directions didn’t forbid it, I worked maze games from the end backwards to the beginning. You should try it. You’ll be done a lot quicker.

Whenever I pack a bag for a trip, I picture myself fully dressed and take inventory of what I need; shirt, pants, socks, underwear, etc. I take a mental inventory of everything I need to get ready before getting dressed (not a great visual); deodorant, cologne, shaver, toothbrush, toothpaste, etc.

So it should come as no surprise that I build my to-do lists and marketing plans the same way. Let’s walk through how you can build a simple catering marketing plan.

What are your main goals? I am guessing to increase catering sales and build repeat business.

I like to create a simple bulleted checklist. Start with each month of the year as a heading. You will then put your strategies and tactics for each month as a sub head in your marketing plan outline.

The first place to start is with the “definitely” list. What do you know you will be doing in the next twelve months to promote catering?

Email marketing should be one of the first strategies to hit your list. So under each month of the year, you will have a bullet called “Monthly Email”. If you know your theme, go ahead and add it.

Our catering software comes with an email marketing feature with prewritten email templates. This will save you time coming up with ideas and writing your emails.

Are there any other ongoing marketing programs? One of the most overlooked and valuable is a catering customer reactivation campaign. Though you can mail letters to inactive catering clients, I prefer to pull up a list of all clients who haven’t ordered catering in the last 60 days and call the ones who you think should have ordered.

Are you running or planning on running a catering loyalty program?

What about sending thank you letters? This is a very low cost way to bond with your catering clients.

One of my favorite ongoing marketing programs is a catering client birthday program. Send all of your best catering clients a card or letter wishing them a happy birthday along with a gift certificate to your restaurant.

All of the above can be put on auto-pilot in our catering software. Of course thanks to spreadsheets, you can also manage them yourself instead.

I then like to make a list of all the catering niches I plan on targeting and plugging those in the right month. For instance: sports banquets in the fall and spring, Black Friday in November, holiday party catering in November/December and Hospital Week in May.

Once you have completed all of your niched catering initiatives, start to brainstorm other marketing strategies you’d like to test. It may be to proactively go after new corporate catering clients. Whether via a system you design or using our catering Sales Tempo, this is a worthwhile tactic to pursue throughout the year.

Once you have your master marketing plan, you’ll want to go back and pick dates for each project. If you are a major planner, you can then take each tactic and create a bulleted list underneath, listing out each step/component and the due dates.

For me, I find myself taking my marketing plan and listing out my current projects in my Moleskin notebook. My girlfriend gave me the notebook along with a Moleskin rollerball pen. I can’t work without it. There is something comforting about using a pen and paper.

As you know, I am always on the lookout for great ideas to make our catering software and marketing systems better for our clients. One of my more successful clients, Mark Rogers, asked me last week about creating a marketing reminder system.

At first I dismissed it, but then the lightbulb went off.

What if we could provide a preloaded catering marketing calendar for our clients with reminders that show up in our software and in our clients’ inboxes?

So as we speak, and hopefully to be completed before my catering seminar this Monday in Atlanta, my lead developer is hard at work creating this tool.

Our clients will have a database of preloaded catering marketing ideas delivered throughout the year. They will have the option of turning off the notification for a strategy or modifying the reminder date. Our clients can also add their own catering marketing tactics to the reminder system and set their own reminders for them.

Why is this important?

Unless you are disciplined enough to create a catering marketing plan and implementing a system to keep up with it, a system like ours will make your life easier. You won’t have to remember at the beginning of each month to call inactive catering clients. This system will prompt you to do it…and much more.

To “plus” the system, for each promotion we will be including links to sales letter templates found on our members only website,

Jillian, our Marketing Director, will be taking each marketing strategy and creating an entire playbook for each one. Our clients will get an A, B, C, 1, 2, 3 plan to follow from how to find/build a targeted list to when/how to send out the sales letter to how best and when to follow up.

I am super excited to see this foolproof catering marketing plan take off!

Whether you choose to work with us or go it yourself, now is a great time to be working on your 2017 catering marketing plan. 2017 is just around the corner. Plan now to make it a record year for your catering sales!

NOTE: If you are interested in a full day of client nurturing strategies and other catering sales building strategies, please make plans to attend my full day catering seminar in Atlanta on Monday, September 26, 2016.

Complete details at:

Hope you can make it.

NOTE 2: I’ve had many people inquire about the DVD recordings from Caterpalooza. The 8 DVD set is available and a great tool for you and your team to sell more catering.

Please check it out at:


NOTE 3: Let me encourage you to a join our new Facebook group I created for our industry: Restaurants That Cater. It is open to clients and non-clients alike. Please post your successes and challenges and share your knowledge with our community. There are groups and associations for caterers and for restaurants, but none for restaurants that cater…a very important group that is grossly underrepresented. Click on the link below and request to join:

Please pass on this link to your colleagues and co-workers in the industry. The more of us, the better!

Well, that’s all for this issue.

To Your Restaurant's Marketing & Catering Success,

Michael Attias

Restaurant Catering Software

P.S. – If you need help growing catering sales, then please go to and download my free eBook: Cater or Die!

P.P.S. – I make a limited number of time slots available each week for a free Catering Strategy Session with me. (You also get a catering menu critique and free analysis of your website for “Catering Effectiveness”). For complete details and to grab one of the limited spots, please go to:

P.P.P.S. – Please check out my podcast at

P.P.P.P.S. - Anyone wishing to reprint my articles may do so. Please email me for the bi-line to use for proper author’s credits.

Topics: catering, catering sales, catering business, catering proposals, restaurant

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