Marketing Strategy

Capability Audit & SWOT Analysis

A Brief Introductory Overview


Chosen Organisation: Inception Group Limited

When the company were set up: 2009 (Craft, 2020)

Main products/services: Inception Group is an entrepreneurial company that owns and runs 6 unique brands and 12 different locations of bars, restaurants and clubs all over in London. (LinkedIn, 2020)

Restaurants, clubs and bars: Cahoots, Barts, Mr Fogg’s, Maggie’s Club, Bunga Bunga

Locations: 1 office in London and several other bars and restaurants around London. (Craft, 2020)

Size of workforce: 201-500 employees (LinkedIn, 2020)

Customer base: Millennials, both locals and tourists who are seeking unique experience, Instagrammable places and new drinks, often alcohol free or low alcohol. (Russon, M-A. & Gelbart, H., 2018)

Competitors: Other themed cocktail bars in London, for example, The Cauldron and ABQ London (Russon, M-A. & Gelbart, H., 2018)

Annual revenue: £20.8m (Craft, 2020)

Unique Selling Point: Unique interior design, experiential activities, immersive experiences, unique drink menu (Stone, S., 2020)


Capability Audit

1= non-existent, 2= weak, 3= mid, 4= strong, 5= very strong

Area of Digital Marketing



Management team support digital marketing


Digital media platforms are vital for the business, according to management.

They invest a lot particularly in social media and have a strong in-house team.

(Arsenaualt, B., 2019)

Organisation has digital marketing team in place


Competence in digital marketing planning


Digital marketing team is appropriately skilled


Websites are effective and support digital marketing strategies


Easy to use, interactive, fast and responsive
Websites are SEO optimised and rank well


 There is no optimal keyword density. Keywords are not distributed well across the important HTML tags. (Based on Woorank, SEOptimiser and SEO Site Checkup)
Content marketing is used well


Engaging video contents and “explore” buttons provided to discover the different venues virtually.
Websites have responsive design to improve UX (User Experience)


Website is easy to navigate and helps achieving digital marketing objectives


Website attracts high volume of leads (Lead generation)


Average website traffic is 4K/month (Craft, 2020)
Use inbound marketing best practices


Well-crafted engaging content but SEO needs improvement.
Leads are effectively converted to sales


Venues are usually fully booked in advance.
Social media is used to engage audience effectively


Organisation actively uses the core social media channels: Facebook, Instagram &Twitter
Effectively generating leads using social media content calendar


Have large follower base. On average, more than 1,000 likes or views on each post. Post regularly.
Social media best practices are used


Award winning campaigns in 2019 and best social media presence award 2020. (Inception Group, 2020) (Restaurant Innovator, 2020)
Use trending topics, hashtags etc. to boost engagement



Email marketing is used to communicate with audience



Only 3 of the 6 websites have newsletter subscriptions.
Mobile marketing is used effectively. E.g. mobile app



Data is effectively captured, processed and accessible


Use of different analytic tools, including Google Analytics, Google Adverts Tracking, Google Conversion Tracking, Google Search Console, LinkedIn Insight. (Woorank, 2020)
Analytics: decision/actions are driven by data and insight


Data is considered to be the most important way to make strategic decisions, according to Emine Mehmet, Senior Group Digital Marketing Manager. (Stone, S., 2020)
 COST CONTROL               
Costs are controlled and generate strong ROI (Return On Investment)



(Craft, 2020)
Organisation works close with agencies to achieve digital marketing goals


Organisation relies on different agencies and freelancers to create animation, motion, Instagram stickers, maps and menus for their bars and restaurants. For example,




Arsenault, B. (2019) “Charlie Gilkes Explains How To Run A Successful Bar In London” [Online] Available at: [Accessed 20 May 2020]

Craft (2020) Inception Group [Online] Available at: [Accessed 19 May 2020]

Inception Group (2020) “News” [Online] Available at: [Accessed 19 May 2020]

LinkedIn (2020) Inception Group, London [Online] Available at: [Accessed 19 May 2020]

Restaurant Innovator (2020) Award Winners [Online] Available at: [Accessed 20 May 2020]

Russon, M-A. & Gelbart, H. (2018) BBC News “Are themed bars and pubs the future?” [Online] Available at: [Accessed 19 May 2020]

Stone, S. (2020) Morning Advertiser “A-Z of on-trade marketing” [Online] Available at: [Accessed 20 May 2020]

Stone, S. (2020) Morning Advertiser “’Time capsule’ concepts can help bring the pub into the 21st century” [Online] Available at: [Accessed 19 May 2020]

Woorank (2020) Website Review – Inception Group [Online] Available at: [Accessed 21 May 2020]


SWOT Analysis




Established company with good reputation


Inception Group was established in 2009 and has constantly expanding since then. Their venues gained reputation due to their Unique Selling Proposition: unique atmosphere (for example, 1940s themed underground bar, Around the World in Eighty Days novel inspired bars), immersive experiences and wide selection of food and drink.

Cahoots bar has won the “Best New Pub/Bar Site’ in the Casual Dining Awards 2020” (Sumeray, L., 2020)

“I think our unique selling points have helped us stand out and develop strong original brands. People now trust that they are going to have a good time when they book in to an Inception venue.” – co-founder Charlie Gilkes said in an interview to Forbes magazine in 2019. (Arsenault, B., 2019)


Excellent locations within the city of London

Most of their bars, restaurants and clubs are in frequented spots in London, such as Mayfair, Covent Garden or Soho. Others, despite of their less frequented locations are likewise popular because they are so called “hidden gems”.


Skilled staff

Marketing staff are highly skilled. The proof of this are the award-winning digital marketing campaigns in the recent years. For example, they won “The Best Social Media Presence of the Year in 2020” (Sumeray, L., 2020).

All of Inception Group restaurant, bars and clubs have large active follower base being nurtured with quality contents, many of which went viral. “Creating new content is key to keep follower engaged…we increasingly use more video content.” – said Emine Mehmet, Senior Group Digital Marketing Manager at Inception Group in a recent interview to Morning Advertiser. (Stone, S., 2020) They are following  the latest trends, for example, all of their websites now have video content to engage site visitors from the very first click.


Large social media follower base

All of their bars, restaurants and clubs have large follower base on social media. For example, Mr Fogg’s have more than 79K followers on Instagram and Cahoots has more than 37K followers on Facebook. This is an active relevant and engaged follower base who share, comment and like posts regularly.


Powerful digital marketing

Inception Group’s marketing team has created a good number of powerful award-winning digital marketing campaigns, such as “The Best Social Media Presence of the Year in 2020” (Sumeray, L., 2020), “Best Digital Campaign’ and ‘Best Use of Video’ at Restaurant Marketer & Innovator Awards 2020” (Sumeray, L., 2020), “The Best Launch Campaign of the Year” in 2019 when they advertised the “best job in the world”. This campaign received over 10,000 applicants, appeared in Sky News and even led the famous actor Ryan Reynolds wanting to apply for the job (Christofi, E., 2019) In 2017 Mr Fogg’s bar had a viral campaign: they sent a cocktail to the space and back to Earth (Ellis, D., 2017). The cocktail is now exhibited in Mr Fogg’s Society of Exploration.


Leveraging professional agencies

Inception Group is working with professional agencies such as SevenRooms. SevenRooms renewed the reservation and guest management system of Inception Group’s individual restaurants and bars. As a result, online bookings increased by 20%. (SevenRooms, n/a)

Propeller is an agency, specialised for digital marketing strategies for restaurants and bars. They have created a multi-level booking flow on Inception Group’s websites. (Propeller, 2020)

Patchpo is a freelancer graphic motion designer and illustrator that have created animations, videos, stickers and other visuals for Inception Group’s several bars and restaurants, such as Mr Fogg’s, Cahoots and Bunga Bunga. (Patchpo, 2020)




Lack of mobile marketing

Inception Group is not leveraging mobile marketing at the moment. They are not running SMS campaigns, neither they have mobile app to be downloaded by their customers or in-app adverts to increase brand awareness.

All of their websites have responsive design, allowing easy booking for their customers. Inception Group is currently missing mobile marketing opportunities.


Weak email marketing

Only two of Inception Group’s six websites offer newsletter subscription for customers. Inception Group is missing the benefit of collecting relevant information about their customers, for example, email addresses, phone numbers (could be used for SMS marketing, for example sending out exclusive SMS vouchers), full names and other relevant data to expand their database and use it for further advertising their venues, increasing brand awareness and returning customer base.


Weak website SEO

Having checked Inception Group’s different websites for relevant keywords (I used Woorank, SEOptimiser and SEO Site Checkup) I found that the was no optimal keyword density on any of their websites. Main keywords are not distributed well across the important HTML tags.

As a result, websites did not appear on the first page of Google unless exact keywords used, for example, “mr fogg” for Mr Fogg’s bar website or “underground bar” for Cahoots bar which is an 1940s inspired bar operating in a refurbished underground station.

Inception Group should improve their website SEO to have a good ranking on Google and other search engines and perform better than their competitors. Content should be focused around particular keywords and ideally these keywords should be used in titles and header tags.


Not leveraging emerging social media platforms

Inception Group’s bars, restaurants and clubs are present and active on the three core social platforms: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Based on their follower base and post responses: likes, comment and shares, their performance on Instagram is outstanding. Instagram is followed by Facebook and Twitter.

However, Inception Group are not or barely leveraging emerging social media platforms. For example, TikTok is currently the trendiest new social media platform, not being recognised by companies yet. This could give exceptional opportunity for Inception Group to take advantage of the new field, but they are not present on TikTok yet.

According to Emine Mehmet, Inception Group’s Senior Group Digital Marketing Manager, this is because “TikTok hasn’t really reached the pub or bar sector yet. The app is overwhelming favoured by young people, the majority being Generation Z (born between mid-to-late 1990s and early 2010s)…but if the average age continuous to creep up, we can imagine it becoming a key marketing platform for us in the near future.” (Stone, S., 2020)




Leveraging emerging social media platforms

As we can see it above, emerging social media platforms like TikTok include huge opportunity for Inception Group. It is also true, however, that businesses should find and use the most relevant platforms where their target audience is. The majority of TikTok users, for example, are from Generation Z, which means they are in their early 20s. The minimum age of entry to most bars and restaurant owned by Inception Group is 21. However, at Mr Fogg’s, for example, young guests are welcomed by 5pm.

To sum up, Inception Group could start leveraging new social media platforms with younger users like TikTok and be in the frontline to turn them to one of their key digital marketing platforms. Inception Group is aware of this opportunity, however, not taking advantage of it yet.


Start mobile marketing

Inception Group is currently missing benefiting from mobile marketing. Their websites have responsive design making them easy to use and easy to book a table. They are not leveraging, however, any other type of mobile marketing that could be beneficial for the business. For example, SMS marketing using What’s Up or a downloadable mobile app.


Improve email marketing

Email marketing is currently weak: only two out of six the websites give the opportunity for user to subscribe for newsletter. This narrows the opportunity for customers to receive news and exclusive offers from their favourite restaurant or bar via email.

Starting using email marketing on all websites could significantly improve booking rate, brand awareness and loyalty.


Improve website SEO

It is vital for a business to be easily found on the Internet. Inception Group’s bars, restaurants and clubs should SEO optimise their websites by using more SEO-friendly content and relevant keywords.


Press/media coverage of the company

Positive media review can help optimise customer experience and leave a positive online footprint. This can be achieved by encouraging customers to leave review on online platforms, such as social media, Trip Advisor etc., giving interviews to prestigious magazines, supporting local events or charity and so on.

Positive reviews can increase sales, expand conversations about the business and make the company more trustworthy. (Willas, S., 2020)


Emerging needs for the company’s services

According to Alice Wilson, reservations and membership director of Inception Group, there is an emerging need for unique and tailored experience which is especially true for hospitality

industry. (Heath, S., 2019) Co-founder Charlie Gilkes also predicts personalisation as emerging trend within the industry. (Arsenault, B., 2019)


Leveraging AI & Augmented Reality (AR)

Co-founder Charlie Gilkes predicts that robotics and AI will see further growth in venues in general by either having an entertaining role – such as the Mechanical Mixologist machine at Mr Fogg’s Society of Exploration – or practical role – such as cashless paying.


Market research to better understand customer needs

Customer needs are ever-changing. Conducting market research regularly is vital for a business to better understand their customers and their needs. Regular market research allows the company to react quickly and efficiently for changing needs and circumstances and outrun their competitors.




Emerging competitors

Emerging needs for the company’s services carries in itself the threat of emerging competitors that might outperform Inception Group and its bars, restaurant and clubs.


Competitors take or upskill Inception Group’s skilled staff

Competitors might be able to take Inception Group’s skilled staff by offering better salary and benefit package. Competitors could also upskill Inception Group’s staff by investing heavily in trainings.


Negative press/media coverage

Negative press/media coverage as well as negative social media reviews can cause damage in the company’s reputation. Negative media can lead to dramatic backdrop in sales and booking and give the opportunity to competitors to outperform the company.


Changing customer needs/preferences

Dramatic changes in customer preferences could have negative effect on the business.






  • Established company with good reputation
  • Excellent locations within the city of London
  • Skilled staff
  • Large social media follower base
  • Powerful digital marketing
  • Leveraging professional agencies




  • Lack of mobile marketing
  • Weak email marketing
  • Weak website SEO
  • Not leveraging emerging social media platforms, e.g. TikTok





  • Leveraging emerging social media   platforms
  • Start mobile marketing
  • Improve email marketing
  • Improve website SEO
  • Press/media coverage of the company
  • Emerging need for the company’s services
  • Leveraging AI & Augmented Reality technology
  • Market research to understand customer needs in a more sophisticated way
  • Emerging competitors
  • Competitors take or upskill staff
  • Negative press/media coverage
  • Changing customer needs/preferences





Arsenault, B. (2019) “Charlie Gilkes Explains How To Run A Successful Bar In London” [Online] Available at: [Accessed 23 May 2020]

Christofi, E. (2019) Inception Group “Inception Group wins Launch Campaign of the Year in Restaurant Marketer & Innovator Awards” [Online] Available at: [Accessed 23 May 2020]

Ellis, D. (2017) Evening Standard “First cocktail in space coming to Mayfair bar Mr Fogg’s” [Online] Available at: [Accessed 23 May 2020]

Heath, S. (2019) Market Scale “Restaurant Industry” [Online] Available at: [Accessed 26 May 2020]

Patchpo (2020) Works [Online] Available at: [Accessed 25 May 2020]

Propeller (2020) “Digital Strategy for Restaurants” [Online] Available at: [Accessed 25 May 2020]

SevenRooms (n/a) “How Inception Group Increased Online Bookings By 20% Across 9 Venues” [Online] Available at: [Accessed 25 May 2020]

Stone, S. (2020) Morning Advertiser “A-Z of on-trade marketing” [Online] Available at: [Accessed 20 May 2020]

Sumeray, L. (2020) Inception Group “Cahoots Ticket Hall & Control Room WINS ‘Best New Pub/Bar Site’ in the Casual Dining Awards 2020!” [Online] Available at:  [Accessed 23 May 2020]

Sumeray, L. (2020) Inception Group “Inception Group WINS ‘Best Digital Campaign’ and ‘Best Use of Video’ at Restaurant Marketer & Innovator Awards 2020!” [Online] Available at: [Accessed 23 May 2020]

Sumeray, L. (2020) Inception Group “Inception Group WINS ‘Best Social Media Presence of the Year’ in the Class Bar Awards 2020!” [Online] Available at: [Accessed 23 May 2020]

Willas, S. (2020) Mention “7 Reasons Online Reviews are Essential for Your Brand” [Online] Available at: [Accessed 26 May 2020]


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