The ​Restaurant Marketing Plan​ That Has Generated $334,174,807+ 

We discover Shake Shack’s concrete secret to turning traditional restaurant marketing upside down, generating $334,174,807+ in revenue ​this​ ​year​ ​alone​,

Let’s drill down into Shake Shack’s ​restaurant marketing plan​ to see what they did to get a 89,600 percent return on investment. Best of all, each strategy can be used by your restaurant to massively increase your own revenue.

How exactly does a massive burger chain’s marketing plan apply to you? Well, what’s so special about Shake Shack’s ​restaurant marketing plan​ is that according to, their marketing budget for 2017 was only ​$400,000,​ with revenue of ​$358,800,000​. That’s a 89,600% return on investment. Not bad!

It all comes down to their big marketing secret. Reported by Fast Company, Edwin Bragg, who was Shake Shack’s VP of Marketing and Communications, said that their motto is ​“The bigger we get, the smaller we need to act.”​ This means a continued focus on being local, personal, and getting involved in the community. All things that you can do too.

We can’t promise you hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue, but by applying the following six tips from Shake Shack’s ​restaurant marketing strategy​, you can massively increase the revenue return on your marketing spend, upwards of 10,000 percent. If it worked for Shake Shack, it may work for you.

1. Give the Dogs a Bone

Yes, we mean food for dogs, and yes, this is an odd one. But there is method to the madness. Shake Shack have cleverly taken advantage of the fact that people are crazy about their dogs, which allows them to connect with customers on an emotional level no other fast food franchise has done.

Shake Shack has a special menu just for dogs, right alongside their human food menu. The “Pooch-ini” is ice cream and dog biscuits, and the “Bag O’ Bones” is a bag of those dog biscuits.

All of this is to connect with customers emotionally, and make them loyal, returning customers. By catering for customers’ dogs, there is a real “they get me, they are just like me” connection between Shake Shack and their customers. According to Big Hospitality, ​good food is only the second most important thing​ when customers pick a restaurant. The number one thing was service, so it’s little touches like this in their ​restaurant marketing plan​ that make a huge difference in keeping customers coming back for more.

RJ Metrics reports that returning customers spend ​300%​ more, so this is a great idea to create loyal customers. Offer your customers a doggie bag or special doggie treats, and follow Shake Shack’s lead.

2. Drop Local Newspapers and Magazines/Traditional Advertising

This goes against the grain of traditional marketing, but just like Shake Shack, we’re all about new solutions for better return on investment. The bottom line is, newspapers, radio, TV, and magazines are the most expensive form of advertising you can do. And finding out whether they actually work or not can be hard to do.

The main reason Shake Shack’s marketing budget is so low is that they don’t do any of that traditional, expensive advertising and marketing. They instead focus on digital strategies that are a fraction of the cost, and you can directly measure their effectiveness.

This keeps overheads low, and it makes sure their return on their marketing dollar is maximized. All things that will benefit your bottom line. We talk about two digital strategies you can do below.

3. Make Customers Famous on Your Instagram

We talked above about the doggie menu. This is a great example of Shake Shack engaging with customers without having to rely on expensive traditional media for their ​restaurant marketing plan​. It really demonstrates the power of simple pictures, and talking to customers on their level.

People who have dogs love taking photos of their dogs. They like it even more if other people look at photos of their dogs. When people give their Shake Shack treats to their lucky pups, they can’t contain the cuteness and just have to post it on Instagram.

Shake Shack’s Instagram often posts ​customers’ dogs​ chowing down on their doggie treats, usually getting more likes than their other pictures. They link to the owner’s Instagram page (or even the dog’s Instagram page!) to make them Shake Shack celebrities. This is free advertising and reinforces that emotional connection we talked about before.

The other thing people like taking photos of is food. Encourage your customers to post pictures of your delicious looking meals and pick a winner once a week/month for a free meal.

As Edwin Bragg told the ANA Masters of Marketers conference in Orlando, ​“A central part of our marketing success is an active dialogue with our community. Our fans help tell our story.”

This costs you nothing but your time, and it’s a great way to engage customers and keep them coming through your doors night after night. Consultancy Bain and Company found that retaining just five percent of your customer base will increase you profitability by ​75 percent​. That’s smart marketing.

4. Bring New Customers in with Email Marketing

What’s a hip, millennial-focused fast food chain using boring old email? Well, because it’s effective – very effective. states for every $1 spent, it generates ​$38​ in revenue. That’s a 3,700-percent return.

Let’s look at how Shake Shack lays out their emails to get maximum engagement and return on investment.

  1. The first thing you see is a delicious looking image. This triggers all sorts of excitement in the brain, but more importantly, it gets their attention better than any words can.

  2. The green headline is simple, but keeps interest.

  3. The text below is also simple, but more importantly it’s in the language that appeals to their target market. It’s personal.

  4. There is a big tappable button to take the survey about their new burger. It’s easy to tap on a mobile device and is a clear call to action for the reader.

  5. There’s also a link to their app to turn engagement into revenue. You can link to your menu or website here to achieve the same result.

Again, this strategy only costs your time, so you don’t need to spend big bucks. You can see some email templates ​here​ that will get you started on the way to making a 3,7000 percent return on your email marketing spend.

5. Be Proudly Local

No matter if Shake Shack is in Dallas, Texas, or Istanbul, Turkey, each restaurant has unique touches for the city they are in. Chicago has life-size sliding puzzles and West Hollywood has an art installation. In Detroit, they have local beers and a location specific dessert, in this case frozen custard concretes.

Yet again, this is about creating emotional engagement with their customers. No slick corporate design, but rather slightly quirky things that reflect the community they are in.

You can do the same with some local memorabilia such as old sports photos or big news stories from the past in your community. You could even dig out that first photo you took of you outside your restaurant.

This fits Shake Shack’s central theme of connecting with your customers on an emotional level, and creating conversation. Social Media Today tells us that brands that connect on an emotional level receive ​200 percent​ more word of mouth marketing from their customers.

This is a really easy way to get massive amounts of valuable word of mouth marketing all while make your restaurant a more interesting place to be.

6. Get Involved in Your Community

Shake Shack puts a lot of effort into being, as they put it, “good neighbors”. From the Shake Shack website: “We strive to be the best employers and citizens of each neighborhood we call home. Every Shack donates five percent of sales of a specific concrete to a local charity partner.”

They also run their Shack Track and Field free community fitness programme, which you guessed it, engages their customers at a local and emotional level. They are actively participating in their community.

Why? They are not just being nice for the sake of it. Brand experts SDL found that ​58 percent​ of customers will share positive experiences of a company on social media. Easy, effective marketing, all while doing good in their communities.

To be like Shake Shack, reach out to your community; you could sponsor local sports teams or support school fundraisers with meal vouchers.

Talk to your customers, find out about local opportunities and help where you can. It costs basically nothing compared to traditional media. Invest your time in your community and they will repay you with full tables.


Six simple ​restaurant marketing ideas​. A focus on being local, personal, and getting involved in the community. It all led to $334,174,807+ in revenue this year for Shake Shack, and it’s still climbing. All from a tiny, tiny marketing budget.

By using these simple, low cost marketing strategies Shack Shack makes an 89,600 percent return on their marketing investment.

Get started right now with just one of these ideas, follow it through, and you will be copying the exact marketing strategy of America’s rockstar of restaurant marketing.

What are you waiting for, there is no time like the present – go out and see if you can beat Shake Shack’s 89,600 percent return, to shoot your restaurant revenue through the roof.