Update Your Strategy for COVID in 4 Easy Steps
With the increase in demand for delivery, disruptions in supply chains, and all food
& beverage events cancelled for an undetermined amount of time, your brand has most likely had quite few changes since March.
E-commerce shares of groceries pre-COVID were only 3-4% but post-COVID E-Commerce shares are now at 10-15%.1 This is an increase of 3-4 times and we are now surpassing the industry’s forecasts for 2025. Online purchasing has taken a huge boost and so there needs to be a shift in strategy if you want to bank into it.
Using what my most successful clients have in common and some research I have developed these marketing tips for the food & beverage industry to help keep your brand relevant and stimulate your customers' appetites.
Driving customers to your website and building a community.
So, what's the secret recipe to building a community for the food industry? I have found that the most recurring strategies are:
Build word-of mouth with an engaging recipe blog
Create outrageously mouth-watering images for your products
Leverage your content and images through a strong digital and social media strategy
Use social influencers to promote your product
This guide will walk you through how to engage with your customers, build your brand, and give pertinent information to your audience, incentivizing them to buy.
1. Build word-of mouth with an engaging recipe blog.
In my experience, the most successful strategy in the food & beverage industry has been to create a recipe blog featuring their own products. Stunning and mouth-watering images that titillate your customers appetites are key. Get your customers excited about your product with the array of succulent applications for it! That recipe that you've created will be used for social gatherings, and when guests are amazed, hosts will share your recipes and therefore extending your reach. Now that's how you build word-of-mouth!
But what if you don't have a product that you can create a recipe blog with?
For example, an oatmeal company made a blog with different applications, for their products. Large, flamboyant, and decadent toppings made their product fun and engaging. What was once a very boring breakfast option was now something healthy, delicious and decadent. What if you have something that is made to eat on the go or pre-made? Energy and health bar companies needed to be a little more creative in their strategy. Larabar for example made their pictures fun and designed works of art with their simple yet wholesome bar ingredients.
2. Create outrageously mouth-watering images for your products.
Pictures taken with your cell phone in poor lighting and composition are just not good enough anymore. To inspire your customers, you need to make stunning works of art with your food! Build a lifestyle with your brand and inspire them to join your lifestyle. It's about telling a story of about your brand and getting people to buy into it.
3. Leverage your content and images through a strong social media strategy.
The food industry has a unique edge in creating a buzz on social media. Instagram and Pinterest should be at the center of your strategy. Posting shocking yet mouth-watering plates that are "Instagrammable" is one of the best social media strategies to create a buzz. The status quo is no longer enough to just post. Big, Bold, Decadent and Different are the new norms.
Build a routine of posting every day.
Building your Instagram following is no easy feat. It requires a lot of organisation, an infectious passion about food and consistency. Try using a social media calendar to have a variety of posts that to keep your following motivated and inspired. Later is a great platform to use.
Get involved with your following.
It's not enough to just post. If you give a little love, you'll receive a lot of it back. The community is built around interactions and they want to know that there is a person that is tied to your account and not just a cold business. People relate to you more if you like, share and comment on their social media platforms.
Don't forget to hashtag your shots.
If you mix in a variety of popular hashtags with less popular ones to get a mix of short lived yet high volume with longer term yet lower volume exposure.
Don't shy away from paid digital advertising.
Paid advertising can be quite beneficial if done right. In my experience, the most successful paid ads on Instagram and Facebook were always the most authentic ones. Use your most indulgent pics and do an A/B testing. Put in an initial amount of 25$ per ad and give it 1-2 days to decide which one is performing the best for your goals. Then have that winning ad run for at least a week and see your following grow.
4. Use social influencers to promote your product.
This is the most important part of your strategy. Building relationships with key influencers of the industry should be central to your strategy. Contact as many social media influencers as you can and inquire about how willing they would be to feature or review your product through their recipes if you send them samples. Make sure they include the box and tag you in that featured recipes. Some of them will probably charge but a lot of the smaller ones are quite willing to do it for free.
These tips are really just a starting point for your digital strategy but they will give you a jump start on building your community. I hope this helps and all the best of luck in building your strategy.
1 As coronavirus pandemic pushes more grocery shoppers online, stores struggle to keep up with demand, Melissa Repko, May 1, 2020, CNBC