The most successful catering companies aren’t just known for their complex flavor profiles and exquisite presentation; they’ve also got marketing chops that have earned them a formidable industry reputation. Even the best tasting dishes won’t bring in the revenue if nobody knows about them, so your marketing game needs to be just as strong as your skills in the kitchen.
While you can certainly outsource your marketing efforts, it’s not as difficult as you think it is to effectively manage it in-house.
Start with an assessment
You always want to evaluate where you currently stand before starting any new strategy. Get a feel for what efforts you’ve made thus far (if any), how well they’ve worked in reaching new people, and how they affected your bottom line. Review your website, social media platforms, earned press, and any other presence you have online. Ensure that everything is cohesive and aligns with your brand values.
There’s no way to define whether a strategy is successful if you don’t start out with goals, so you need to consider the benchmarks that you expect to achieve. What do you hope to gain from your marketing push? What will you consider a victory for your business? Be specific and outline who you want to reach and what you expect to happen. Use quantitative numbers, whether you’re seeking 10 new bookings per quarter, $50k in additional revenue, or a 25% segment of your client base from an expansion to a new regional market.
Map out a media plan
Advertisements are great, but earned media is king. When you earn a press feature, it speaks more as third-party validation than a page you paid for in a magazine. The value of earned media means that it is harder to attain, but has more of an impact on your brand reach.
Create a list of the publications that you’d love to be featured in, with special consideration given to your target audience. Where is your dream client hanging out online? What magazines or podcasts do they subscribe to? Once you have a shortlist of media outlets, research their submission guidelines and start crafting your pitch. Offer yourself as an expert resource or share a cool story idea that you came up with recently. Real wedding submissions are also an excellent way to showcase your work in front of the people that matter.
Refine your social media presence
If you’re killing it on social media already, you can probably skip this section. But, if you’re like most business owners, there’s probably room for improvement when it comes to your online presence. Put yourself in your ideal client’s shoes and take a hard look at your profiles. Is your content compelling? Are your visuals striking? Do you use the right hashtags to increase visibility? Are you reaching your target audience in a way that resonates with them? Consider that video content reigns supreme, now more than ever, and bulk up on video production if needed. Behind-the-scenes peeks are great ways to build in more video content, while also providing the authentic look at your brand that consumers want.
Jumpstarting your marketing efforts will take some upfront time as you get your systems in place and make tweaks to ensure its efficacy. However, once you’ve got your strategy locked down, it will take far less time as it will be more maintenance than active planning. Plus, the end result is far worth the effort it will take in the beginning!
Clint Elkins is the V.P. of Sales for SB Value, a Group Purchasing Organization that helps culinary professionals save an average of 16% on every food order. Membership is 100% free. No hidden fees. No extra work. Just extra profits. See how much you can save on your next food order when you become an SB Value member. Request a quote today.