The world of foodservice is dramatically different than it was at the beginning of 2020. Operators have done an incredible job of pivoting and meeting each new challenge, but what lies ahead next year is anyone’s guess. So, how should foodservice marketers continue to adjust to this new normal? And what’s in store for 2021? Surprisingly, a firm footing in the familiar may be the best approach.
Here are some tips and tricks to consider as you prepare for next year:
1. Keep getting the word out—because the pandemic won’t last forever
Advertising is often cut by brands when times are tough. But many believe that those who advertise during economic downturns actually come out stronger. Why? Not only are certain ad spaces cheaper, but maintaining a presence when times are tough can help maintain your image and instill more confidence in your target audience.
2. A channel approach will be more important than ever
The pandemic has highlighted the unique challenges that each channel is facing, and recovery will likely look different for each one. Understanding and marketing to those nuances will be critical. Operator-first messaging is a must as well. Many have had to call it quits, and there are plenty on the brink of doing the same. They’re in need of specific solutions and efficiencies that speak to their realities. So, try to speak directly about how your product or service is of immediate benefit to your operator audience.
3. Not everything has to be on a screen
For good reason, our lives have revolved around digital communication for the better part of 2020. But most people are craving connections that don’t require a screen—which could build a renewed desire for tangible, tactile marketing tools. Try balancing digital communication with high-touch marketing tools, such as sales materials and direct mail.
4. Be prepared for this “new normal” to continue post-COVID
Some of the changes that restaurants have adopted may stick around for a long while. Takeout, of course, has been foodservice’s most valuable asset, and will continue to be the crucial source of revenue for so many operations. Similarly, ghost kitchens created all kinds of efficiencies and opportunities pre-pandemic and are currently breathing new life into restaurants. Keep these in mind when you’re talking to operators in 2021— and remember to stay agile and adjust to any left field developments.
5. Meaningful connections will be more important than ever
Of course, there’s plenty to look forward to as well. When large gatherings are safe again, people in this industry and beyond will be eager to make in-person connections. Expect a pent up demand for experiences like tradeshows and other industry events. At the same time, virtual events are likely to stick around, with convenience and cost savings making sense for many. When we’re out of the woods, look to cover all your bases by adopting a healthy mix of both face-to-face and digital gatherings.
Looking for more ways to connect with operators as you navigate this ever-changing landscape? Let’s connect on your plans for 2021.