Restaurant Marketing: Why Mastering One Platform at a Time is Key #restaurantmarketing

You don’t need to be making TikToks if you can’t even figure out Facebook. Chasing the latest trends won’t help your restaurant succeed. Master one platform at a time to truly grow your business.

Do your fans need to see you on every social media platform? NO. Focus on becoming a master of one before moving to the next.

Subscribe to the Restaurant Marketing Secrets podcast to learn more about social media strategies.

#restaurantowner #restaurantmarketing #shorts

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Day 53 – The Puzzle – What If You Had A Marketing Platform For Your Restaurant That Did THIS!

As I sit in downtown Cincinnati enjoying a cup of coffee as I work for 3 hours with jazz music in my ears, away from the hustle and bustle of our office, I can’t help but ponder, ponder WHAT IF ?!

Now, really fast on that “hustle and bustle” comment above.  The office I avoid 3 mornings per week, so I can get some DEEP work done, was Me, Doug and Austin this time 3 years ago and now typically 30 people work out of that office daily.  When I’m there is really tough to dig deep into work due to my teams needs, my own distractions and of course ping pong 🙂 WOW, just WOW how things have changed.  When I bought that building in January 2021 It was to create a place I would love to be at every day (which I do), but also to challenge myself to build the company I knew I was capable of.

Ok, now back to the WHAT IF!

As we prepare to launch our new restaurant marketing platform this summer that will be a MASSIVE sales dryver, I constantly ask myself “WHAT IF” it did THIS!

And those “what if’s” are powered by the frustrations I’ve heard over the past 16 years of dealing with restaurant owners, from frustrations I’ve had with seeing how they use their marketing tools incorrectly and most importantly by the HUGE GAPS in every marketing softwar/ service that exists.

The UI, or user interface as you may know it will be so damn intuitive and easy to understand it will make you want to cry tears of joy:)  That’s what I’m sketching out daily on this notepad, ideas and flows of how it will look and function when you as a restaurant owner log into create or analyze a marketing campaign.  I want you to imagine this, 4 main funnels at the top of the screen: New Customers, Frequent Customers, Lost Customers & Loyalty Customers.  Now each of those funnels is telling you how many customers entered that funnel the past month, how many spent money that month and what your ROI is.  But more importantly, based on the sales goals you’ve input into the platform, how many customers SHORT that funnel is.  Meaning, if you want to hit that #, how many people we have to acquire into each funnel through your marketing.  And behind these 4 main funnels will be other funnels that customers are in, like your Birthday and Catering marketing funnels. 

Ok, now back to my ACTUAL what if conversation I had planned for this blog…

WHAT IF you could log into a marketing platform and create a campaign for a VERY specific segment of your database and NOT bother people who are already in a funnel?  Meaning if Matt Plapp is a loyalty customer who’s going to get a Smart Offer promotion that week, he does not need to be in your new “one-off” campaign you’re creating today. 

Let’s examine where this idea comes from for me and hopefully you’ll share my excitement for this restaurant marketing WHAT IF!

Every week I get emails that don’t relate to me.  And in many instances I get multiple emails and texts from the same restaurant.  Now I’m all for marketing to your list, but you MUST protect your list (insert Under Armor Commercial… WE MUST PROTECT THIS HOUSE).

You must treat it with care and not abuse it.  Let’s be honest with each other, as much as we each love sending our stuff, customers don’t give a shit often.  So when you over market to people they go away, and you lose their attention.  

On top of that, everyone doesn’t need to know everything about your restaurant and they really only need to hear from you about 20-30 times per year.  So if we have these funnels created to cover our core 4 main customers (new, lost, frequent and loyalty) and our other lower level funnels, that means that aprox half of your list should already be in a marketing funnel every other week. In fact my personal goal for our new platform is for 3.5% of the database to be in a marketing funnel EVERY DAY. That means that as a customer in a restaurants database I’d get a pre-determined marketing campaign 100% based off of my journey with your restaurant.  If a restaurant has a 10,000 customer database (which is the MINIMUM you all should have after 2 years in business), then 350 customers are getting a message each day and you’re touching the entire database monthly.  

That means when you log in weekly to do something “one off” you can talk to the others.  This is my BIG WHAT IF.  I want our platform to have a filter set up that excludes anyone in the database that’s already in a funnel campaign inside of a 7 day window.  Meaning if Matt Plapp is getting a WIN BACK email in 4 days because I’ve went MIA the past 2 weeks, then I won’t get your Father’s Day Campaign.  

This will PROTECT YOUR LIST!  WATCH THIS is you don’t know the UA reference

The great part is, a lot of this work is already done!  You see, my good friends Kamron Karington and Joe Gratz had these same thoughts MANY years ago while creating Repeat Returns.  This is what made it so easy to acquire Repeat Returns, it had many of my wish list items in it.  

As an example, below is the current version of the daily marketing calendar that’s FED by the existing marketing funnels.  In this example about 5% of the restaurants database of 2,500 are getting a message today BASED 100% on their journey.


The next part of the journey for this Marketing Calendar is to tie in a few new funnels, tweak a few of their funnels and then build a more robust filtering system.  

As you can see below, we can filter based off of MANY customer tags now.  My goal is to for restaurant owners to have more choices here and then to be able to choose a few of these tags to create a very specific audience for a marketing campaign while NOT interrupting the customers who will get a message already.  

As an example, National Dog Day .  Let’s say a restaurant is doing a contest where customers comment on a Facebook Post with picture of their dog in the comment LIKE THIS ONE CLICK HERE.

So on top of making that Facebook post you want to email or text some customers.  But of course I don’t want to send it to everyone (and the system won’t let me either), but I want to drive some solid traffic to it.  So I could log into the platform, choose create a marketing campaign.  Choose my mediums, email, text and messenger.  Then choose my audience, say customers who’ve visited in the past month who are also in my top 25% of spenders lifetime.  This gives me a very good audience and that’s who’s likely to interact with such a targeted post. Then it’s as simple as taking my image I created for Facebook and popping it into the template, adding 1 line of text like ” Do you have a dog?  If so, we’re having a contest, click below to go to Facebook and comment for a chance to win.”

My goal of this audience would be to give you 300-500 customers to choose from every time.  That way you have a large enough audience to choose from, while not bugging your entire potential audience every time you do a 1-off promo like this. 

That my friends is ONE of my many WHAT IFs

Stay tuned, an announcement and CONTEST is coming soon for our new restaurant marketing platform that’s going to become your #1 dryver of sales!

Day 52 – The Puzzle – Do You Want To Be The Songs Or The Commercial Break?

The irony of situations in life makes you smile.

This morning it took me changing the station 3 times to land on my 4th pick, 103.5 WGRR to find a song.  Why’s this ironic?  WGRR is where I started my career in marketing back in 1999.

Here’s why I’m telling you this.

While driving to the office today my blue tooth was off, so I reverted to good ole fashioned radio vs messing with hooking it up while driving. When I it the “band” button it started me off on 700 WLW.  That station was on commercial break, so I hit 550 WRKC, again commercial break.  Next I thought, let’s listen to some sports radio, maybe they’ll be talking about the Celtics game last night….COMMERCIAL.  Ok, maybe, just maybe WGRR is playing music.  

BINGO!  They’re playing Prince, turn it up and keep driving. 


This is the problem with restaurants and how they use Social Media.  They are the commercial EVERY POST!

Let me ask you a question, how many likes, comments and shares do your Facebook posts get, basically NONE right?  Most restaurants get under 1% engagement on all of their Facebook posts.  WHY IS THAT?  

First, it’s because your customers tuned you out a while ago

Second, it’s because the algorithm saw that your customers tuned you out and did the same.

Meaning, by you treating every social media post like a radio commercial EVERY POST, you’ve effectively ruined the your Facebook following.

BUT there’s hope!!!!

You can easily reverse this, you just need to start using Social Media correctly and we teach exactly that in the ABR U RGA Guide.  This is a paid DIY course and 400 page guide that will help you learn how to take your social media, email and text marketing to a whole new level.

CLICK HERE to buy your guide today.

In episode 618 of my podcast, Restaurant Marketing Secrets, I talk about the journey in my car from my house to the office, HAVE A LISTEN, CLICK HERE!

Why Small Restaurants Outperform McDonald’s in Social Media #restaurantindustry #restaurantmarketing

McDonald’s is setting up a fund for their social media marketing, but their strategy moves like a cruise ship—slow to start and slow to pivot.

Imagine McDonald’s trying to quickly shift their social media strategy—it’s not happening overnight… But an independent restaurant can see what’s not working today and change things up by tomorrow!

Learn more about how your restaurant can stay agile with social media strategies. Subscribe to the Restaurant Marketing Secrets podcast.

#restaurantowner #mcdonalds #shorts

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Day 51 – The Puzzle – I Was Wrong About Building Your Brand…Kind Of

The fact is BRAND drives sales.  

Brand makes customer acquisition 1,000,000 times easier, but most of us never make it to the level of brand that we need for that. Especially local restaurants. 

Think about it this way.  When Apple announces a new iPhone there’s ZERO sales pitch and in many case no info, yet their customers FLOCK to buy it.  When Nike rolls out a new Air Jordan shoe, same thing.  People line-up to buy the shoes sight unseen.  When Tesla showcased an insane cybertruck to it’s fans, they had 1 million pre-orders in year one and 2 million by year two!  NONE of that happens without a BRAND that people love and support, and building a brand takes a LOT of marketing.

And I know what you’ll say along with that “Matt we are not Apple, Nike or Tesla”, we’re a small independent restaurant. I get that, but honestly you have it much easier.  You don’t need to sell people worldwide, you just need to dominate a few miles around your restaurant.  Y

S0 why aren’t customers rushing to try your new dish, your new trivia night, etc?  It’s because your brand is not big enough and you don’t command the level of respect you need to get those lines.   You’ve never consistently done the leg work on the streets, through digital marketing and in your store.  Yes, you’ve had spurts of hustle, but it can’t happen occasionally, it has to happen ALL THE TIME and when you see traction you go HARDER!  You never stop!

For years I’ve been preaching the reasons you need to build a brand and I’m here today with my tail between my legs to tell you I was wrong.  You don’t need to focus on building a brand, you need to focus on DRIVING SALES and then allow the marketing that drives sales to slowly build your brand.  What I know is possible for all of you, simply isn’t on your priority list and it took me 9 years to realize that. 

I’ve been wasting my time with so many restaurant owners, trying to get them to do what I want with regards to social media.  Every 10th client will listen and see massive results and that’s what I would always lean into.  But then one day I thought “Matt, that means 9 are not listening, or don’t give a shit.”

So that forced me to sit back and re-evaluate our company goals. It made me ask myself a deep question, WHY don’t restaurant owners care about building a brand.

The answer, you need sales now.  They need relief from the pressure of not having money to pay themselves and their bills.  The restaurants that have taken my advice to heart are in a much different financial position.  They have the room to breathe, and that gives them the patience to focus on building the brand.  

David Scott Peters always says in his seminars when asked what owners should focus on first, marketing or operations “BOTH.  It’s the chicken and the egg.  You have to do both.”  And as I sat in Las Vegas at his most recent Restaurant Transformation Seminar I thought about what he said and realized that when owners ask that question they are talking about marketing that drives sales NOW, not in 3-5 years like branding will do.  

So with that we changed our company tag line to “Drive Sales & Build Brand.”  We decided to go all in on creating a restaurant marketing platform that is focused 100% on driving sales. 

But the good news is, that when done right (how we’ll show you), you’ll also be slowly building your brand.  And my hope is that after a few years of consistent sales growth and a renewed belief in marketing that you’ll say “I get it, I have the time and breathing room and NOW I’m going on all in on my brand.”

See you tomorrow,


Day 50 – The Puzzle – Building A Platform That Drives Predictable Restaurant Sales

This was a note I made in my journal:

“We need your help to build a product that helps you drive predictable sales on demand while you accidently build a brand” … at least that’s what I meant to write 🙂

I made this note as the headline of the video I want to make for a survey to send to our restaurant clients.  The goal is to find out what they love, like, don’t like and hate about our services.  But it was to also give them a vision for the changes we want to make.  We are taking Repeat Returns Software and Restaurant Marketing That Works, my restaurant agency, and combining them into the Ultimate Restaurant Marketing Platform.

I want a platform that allows restaurants to plug in their current sales and their sales goal in 24-36 months and have numbers spit back at them of what it will take to get there.  As in “you need 3,546 more loyalty members to hit that number.” 

I want a platform where a restaurant can go in and create a campaign that will drive a predictable result every day, you know “I need $1,000 more in dinner sales today…CLICK.”

I want a platform that automatically creates a marketing plan every day for 50% of your database, so they are on a specific path based on their use of your restaurant.

I want a platform that is easy for you to see your ROI in every funnel.

I want. a platform that you trust, one that creates massive belief in your eyes for the power of marketing.

I want a platform that when the clock strikes MIDNIGHT your marketing dashboard creates a plan for the next day where 7% the customers in your database are in a funnel for that day.  That would leave 51% to be marketed to that week with a unique one off program and you’d have your bases covered 52 weeks per year FOR YOU!

I could go on and on about what I want, but at the end of the day I’ll need to merge that with what YOU WANT!  What restaurant owners want in order to get what they need, SALES!

Day 49 – The Puzzle – An Exciting Restaurant Promotion, The Money Bucket

Today I was reminded of a time 8 years ago when I was at a clients restaurant running what I call the MONEY BUCKET promo! 

I’ve been doing this promotion with clients and my own business for over 20 years and I can remember EXACTLY where I learned it from.

The year was 2000 and I was working two jobs.  One for WGRR as an advertising “account executive” AKA salesman and the other was my side hustle of building our boat dealership through online marketing.  Yes ONLINE MARKETING in 2000 🙂

The money bucket came from WGRR and our sales manager Kim Wiest.  We would have a sales event once per year called the One Day Sale where we would do our best to liquidate our first quarter inventory in November since radio sales was relatively soft after the holidays.  We’d spend a few weeks prepping our clients for this one day sale and then the day of DIAL FOR DOLLARS!  

In November of 2000 Kim broke out a paper bag and loaded it with CASH.  She would walk around the office and let you reach in when you closed a deal.  That was my first big one day sale and I dominated, I was #1 out of our 4 stations by a big margin and I got to reach into the money bag A LOT!  And that memory stuck with me.

So a few years later when I was looking for a way to spark the sales team at our boat dealership I turned to the money bucket. And then around 2010 when I was looking for a way to help some retail clients of my marketing agency, I did it again.

Since 2010 the Money Bucket promo has been a staple with my clients.

In episode 173 of my podcast, Restaurant Marketing Secrets, I did a deep dive into how we did the Money Bucket at Backyard Grill in Houston Texas, CLICK HERE to listen and get a tad more insight.

So WHAT IS THE MONEY BUCKET and how can it be used to increase my restaurants sales, because that’s what we all aim for.


– You create a promotion

– You get some cash

– You get a bucket, bag or box

– You let customers or employees reach into the “money bucket” as your CTA, call to action.


– Drive traffic from your marketing

– Create excitement in the restaurant

– Incentivize and reward customers and employees.

Here are two examples of how you can do this.

First example, this is for your customers to drive enrollments in your VIP or loyalty program.  You create a marketing campaign and let your customers and following know that on a particular day and time when they visit and sign-up or PROVE they are a member they get to reach into the money bucket.  Ideally you create a video of you with the bucket and some cash and then use that on Facebook to get their attention.

A few notes:

– Pick a time and day when you’ll be busy, it’s a HUGE in-store excitement promo

– Don’t use big bills, I found that a $5 and $50 create the same amount of excitement at the table

– Have one person dedicated to this, no other job at that time

Ok, then you’re going to walk around to every table in the restaurant and let them know “we are letting current members or new signups reach into the money bucket for some free cash, are you game?”

Second example, this is for your employees.  Create an intenal contest like whoever sells a dessert today gets to reach into the money bucket every time one sells.  This is a great way to build excitement with your team and around the money bucket.  

Lastly, when you do this for your customers, make sure to post some pics and videos on Facebook to PROVE that you did this and excite people for the next time you do it.  I have done this across many concepts and it’s NEVER not worked.  Customers and staff, LOVE IT!


OH, and the YouTube video below is a VLOG we did around one of our trips to see a client where YOURS TRULY did the money bucket for the client, so scroll down and watch. 

Day 48 – The Puzzle – Why Facebook Posts Should Not Be Short

to post or not to post, that’s not the question.

To make SHORT or LONG posts, that is THE REAL QUESTION!

A topic that comes up frequently is the fact that most restaurants are simply making a Facebook post every day, to simply MAKE A POST. There is very little effort or thought put into it and that’s why posts go unnoticed by most of your fans.  

Now I know what you’re going to say next, “Matt I don’t have time.”  

Well, I call bullshit on that.  We all have time to do what’s important to us.  Whether that’s working out, eating write, writing a daily blog post, recording a daily podcast, or guess what PUTTING TIME AND EFFORT into a social media post EVERY DAY!  

And marketing and sales for your restaurant should be a really important to you. 

In episode 615 of my daily podcast, Restaurant Marketing Secrets, I dig into the SEE MORE button and how it can help you dominate your marketing.

The idea behind the “see more” button is to give Facebook more data to work with to optimize your Facebook page and posts.  But it’s also your chance to engage with your customers at a deeper level. 

Think about it this way.  If you were walking through your dining room and a customer stopped you and asked about your dough.  Would you simply say “yeah, we make it daily” and keep walking?  Or would you welcome the conversation to explain what makes your AWESOME and different from the chain or gas station pizza spot down the street?

In the podcast I go deep into WHY this works for marketing, but in this blog I want to go deeper into WHY you need to learn how to tell your story and how this will help.

At Pizza Expo this year we asked over 50 restaurant owners and managers “what makes your restaurant different and unique” and 9 out of 10 gave me some lame ass reason. 

“We have great service, we have the best pizza, we are family owned” were what most people said. There was ZERO thought or effrot put into telling an actual story or knowing what it was.  Most stumbled when asked and were as convincing as most politicians. 

In fact, the 2 best responses came from a 16 year-old and 3 accounting office ladies.  

The 3 ladies from Marcos Pizza’s corporate office went right into what makes them different, how they make the dough every day and why it makes them better than other pizza joints.  It was GOLD!  It came off great and you could tell this was due to them saying it a thousand times.

Well, that’s exactly what using Facbook posts like I’m talking about here will do for your ability to tell your story. The more time you spend typing and speaking about what you do, the better you become at that.  It’s just like shooting foul shots.  So when you spend 15-30 minutes every day typing out an in-depth well thought out Facebook post about how your dough is made, how you interview employees, how you got in the pizza business, about your vision, etc, the better you become at telling your story in person. 

See you tomorrow,



Does “Hope & Pray” sound like your restaurants marketing plan?

Do you hope your customers enjoyed their food and pray that they come back in?
Take control of your restaurant’s marketing and boost your sales! Capturing customer data should be your top priority. But why?
With customer data, you can identify new customers, track those who stopped coming, and recognize your biggest fans. By creating targeted marketing for each segment, you ensure that all your customers return for the right reasons.
Subscribe to the Restaurant Marketing Secrets podcast to learn more about capturing customer data and the impact it can have.

#RestaurantMarketing #RestaurantOwner #shorts

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Day 47 – The Puzzle – Day Trading Attention

This week I started a new book, Day Trading Attention by Gary Vaynerchuk.  I’ve known about Gary V for many years.  I actually found him early on in my journey of creating this company, around 2011.  Back then we were both on the same path, but he was years ahead of me with his depth of knowledge on the platforms and thinking.  Then after following him for a year or so I stopped. 


Honestly, he was talking way over my head.  He was speaking a language that I couldn’t understand.  This was all due to the fact that I had not leveled up back then.  I was content with being 10 years ahead of my restaurant owner clients, and not worried about the industry as a whole. So I stopped following him, and I recall thinking “what’s this dude talking about?  Where’s he going with this?”

Then in 2017 our paths crossed again.  In early 2017 I’d heard about my business coach, Billy Gene Shaw, being at a marketing convention and asking Gary V a question.  So I found the recording and watched it, eventually finding Billy in the video but more importantly finding out WHY I needed to start listening to Gary V again.  

CLICK HERE to watch that video. 

You see, at that point I was 6 months into taking my game to a new level and Billy Gene had helped me see the next level. And it wasn’t until I had seen that, that I was able to understand FINALLY what the heck Gary V was talking about. 

Now fast forward to 2024 and I pick up Gary V’s new book, Day Trading Attention.  As I get one chapter into it I can see that Gary and I have always been on the same page, just at different levels.  Back in 2009 I started doing a seminar every month on the power of email, social media and internet marketing.  I called the seminar “Create Your Own Radio Station” and I actually wrote a book on the topic in 2016 that I’ve never published (different blog coming soon).

The idea for “create your own radio station” was simple.  

Back then the majority of small businesses where relying on growing their sales through advertising on mass media.  It was really the only option, what we have today with FREE marketing through social media wasn’t understood or close to as big as it is today and almost NONE of them had embraced email marketing.

The reason they were buying advertising for their restaurants was to get the attention of that media outlets audience. Take a radio station as an example, the only way they can charge your for advertising is because they have an audience.  An audience that tunes in daily and “supposedly” will hear your radio commercial and come eat your food or buy your stuff.

Pretty simple right?


The graphic below is what I would draw on the white board.  This is our local area, commonly referred to as “the tri-state” area.  Radio stations signal reach that yellow circle creating a LOT OF WASTE for most businesses.  The example I would always use was to draw an orange dot on the map and point out “this is Barleycorns in Lakeside Park.  And this orange dot is the radius from where 99% of their customers will come from.  I think we all can see the massive amount of waste created here, but let’s go deeper. 

It wasn’t enough to simply show them the waste, I wanted to show them how EVERY small business actually had a larger audience that the radio stations in town in the area they really needed to, that orange circle.  

The biggest radio station in town is 700 WLW and they’ll typically tell you they reach 300,000 people in the region.  

WOW!  300,000 local people, all I need is a small fraction of them to come eat at my restaurant, this makes complete sense right?


Yes, they “may” reach a lof of people, but your customers don’t listen all day every day.  So in radio there is a term called AQH, meaning “average quarter hour.”  

You see, the average consumer will listen in 15 minute spurts, typcally while in their car.  So a station in Cincinnati will typically say we reach 15,000 people every 15 minutes and this is where MY THEORY comes into play.

Take that 15,000 and chop out 90% of it since that’s the yellow portion who are NEVER coming to your restaurant, now you’re down to 1,500 potential customers.  

Now take that 1,500 and ask yourself how many are paying attention when you commecial comes on, how many didn’t switch the channel, how many are thinking “that sounds good”, etc.  You get the point, the number is SMALL!  I think it’s close to 100 or so people around this example restaurant.  And this is where my create your own radio station concept comes into play.  

Your restaurant has a LARGER audience than that radio station does as it relates to your customer base.  And remember, this was back in 2010 that I was preaching this.

  I’d draw on the white board the following and say “on average…”

– You have 300 Facebook friends

– Your restaurant has 1,000 Facebook fans

– You have an email list of a few thousand

So if you have an audience between theses 3 chanels of a few thousand, you have 10X the power of any radio station when it comes to reaching customers who will do business with you. 

Now flash forward to 2024, HOLY CRAP!  Those numbers are tiny compared to what you have today, and you have YouTube, Twitter (X), Instagram, TikTok, SnapChat, Texting, Loyalty programs, paid social medai ads, your website traffic, etc.  

A restaurant in 2024 can easily get 100x the exposure on their own for penny’s vs buying mass media.  The opportunities are endless and the streets are lined with gold. 

So, when I saw his new book and the first chapter spoke on a very simple topic, ATTENTION, it got me thinking about how EASY it is today for your restaurant to get attention and it also made me realize how much the majority of your under value it. 

See ya tomorrow,


PS…the video of Gary V from 2016 is below and STILL 100% on point.