It wasn’t that long ago that a robust foodservice marketing campaign consisted of trade ads, sales materials and an operator rebate or incentive. And, while many of these tactics are still viable, today’s operators are busier than ever and it takes a more thoughtful approach to engage (and convert) them. Here are the biggest trends we’re seeing in foodservice marketing campaigns:
1) Data-driven planning
With the amount of data available to manufacturers today, it’s not surprising that savvy marketers are leveraging it in their planning process. For example, if you’re seeing seasonal search trends for a particular product or recipe, why not capitalize on it by proactively building an entire campaign around those key search terms? Leverage the wide variety of tracking metrics available, including website analytics, click-through rates and A/B tests to name just a few.
2) An authentic, emotional approach
For years, most foodservice marketing messages focused either on generating profits or reducing labor. While these are important benefits, meeting operators on an authentic, emotional level takes your message to a completely different level. Social media is a great place to test this by sharing behind-the-scenes photos and showcasing the stories of the people behind your products. For example, what is your culinary team working on? Where do they get their inspiration? Those are the kinds of stories that connect operators to your brand on a more meaningful level.
3) Solution-oriented promotions
Gone are the days when promotions were limited to cash back rebates or trips. Manufacturers today understand the challenges that operators face and are creative with prizes that bring long-lasting value to the operation, such as free publicity, culinary training or items that can help drive profits or increase efficiency, such as new equipment.
4) Content-first campaigns
Building long-term relationships with foodservice operators takes more than a product-centric, sales-focused approach. By nurturing the relationship through valuable trend or recipe-focused content, you’re demonstrating you want to offer solutions, as opposed to just moving cases. Each channel has its own unique challenges, so develop content that addresses those. For example, sharing creative participation-building ideas for K-12 operators, or dessert ideas that could build delivery revenue for a pizzeria operator.
5) Sampling made easy
We all know the power of trying a new product in the grocery store and immediately deciding to purchase it. Foodservice operators are no different, and they’re passionate about what they serve. By making it easy for them to sample your products, there’s a good chance you’ll earn their business. We talked to one operator who sampled a bottled sauce years ago, and it’s now a staple ingredient on their menu – so much so that they switched distributors in order to get it!
Looking to grow your foodservice business? With nearly 25 years in B2B food marketing, we bring expertise and experience to heat up your sales. Contact Anita Nelson directly at 612-353-3410.