The 80/20 Rule of Restaurant Marketing That Five Guys Uses to Crush the Competition

Is your restaurant primarily known for Burgers? How about any other signature food item or a theme like sports? If so, you’re probably going about all your marketing wrong.

That might be a little extreme. I’m willing to bet your closest competitors are also focusing on talking about their pizza or Monday Night Football. That’s because they don’t understand the 80/20 rule of restaurant marketing.


80% of your marketing should not focus on your signature menu item or theme.

If you are a sports bar, people are going to assume that you’ll be showing the “Big Game” or the play-offs. That’s not a message worth pouring all your efforts into.

If you are a pizzeria, an endless steam of of great looking photos of your pies is only kind of helping you market the business. Your family restaurant that is primarily known for children’s birthday parties, doesn’t really need to have its marketing message focus as birthday parties. The point is, if you are an established business, especially multi-unit, people know that these are your core offerings. Instead you should be focusing your marketing efforts on is what sets you apart or areas of your business that need help.

As an example, if you’re a sports bar, people probably assume that you’ll be showing March Madness games. There’s no need to shove it down their throats.  How’s your business look on a Tuesday? How about weekday lunches? Focus your marketing to your weak spots and once customers come through the door, then you can remind them about baseball play-offs or the Kentucky Derby.


What is the first thing that pops into your head when you hear someone say “Five Guys?” You probably think “Burgers.” Five Guys knows that, but they get it, they practice the rule.

Take a look at their Instagram account as proof. What do you not really see a lot of? Burgers. Instead they focus on kids dining, shakes, new store openings, customer appreciation quotes, etc.


People are already walking into their local Five Guys with a Cheeseburger on their mind. Once they get you in a store, Five Guys knows they need to maximize the visit so why not encourage you to bring your kids or add a vanilla shake to your order? That’s how you drive incremental revenue.

The Ainsworth is a multi-unit, high-end sports pub owned by Paige Hospitality, that’s known for their absolutely over-top and amazing Burgers. Their Mac and Cheeseburger, most notably, is well worth it’s weight in likes on social media.

They know that their customers already come there to drink nice cocktails and eat great food while watching their favorite team. It’s their bread and butter. Focusing on driving more attention to what people already know is not going to fill their dining room on Monday nights.

So instead of pushing Monday Night Football, they are marketing 1/2 off steaks. That’s smart! Get people to think The Ainsworth is not just a bar, it’s also a restaurant and good for dinner. That also gets customers in the door earlier, which leads to a bigger check average.




If your bar or restaurant has an established brand, use the 80/20 rule of restaurant marketing:

  • Focus 80% of your marketing efforts on a strategy to bring attention to the things you are NOT most commonly known for.
  • Spend 20% of your marketing efforts on your signature menu item or core theme.

Now go eat a Five Guys Burger and don’t forget the vanilla shake.


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