An effective marketing plan is essential for the success of any food business. For most small catering businesses, the year 2021 brought a ray of hope. The journey is not so easy as suggested by Ellen Goddard who found that food purchases shifted to grocery spending. The good news is, the lockdown has also increased the interest in food services with many households opting to order online. With the state of emergency lifted, restaurants and catering businesses owners are hopeful of better sales.
To gain perspective on how to market your catering business in 2021, you must first understand the challenges that you will meet. Here are some of the regulatory and manufacturing regulations you need to address:
1. New safety standards
Living with the Coronavirus in the past year puts greater emphasis on health and food safety standards. Committing to adhere to industry standards is crucial to nurture a trusting relationship with consumers. These days, aside from keeping ingredients fresh, the food containers, plates, and cutleries clean, and the servers hygienic, you may also have to include COVID testing as part of the standard.
2. Prioritizing sustainability
Several issues in the food industry have been overshadowed by the pandemic. Understandably, customers will be keen on how their caterers will carry on with their service while a virus is posing a threat to people. However, as the clamor is expected to subside in the coming months with the vaccines already available, you may want to consider other issues like food waste management.
3. Dealing with shutdowns
Catering businesses had to adapt to constant shutdowns and canceled gatherings. You would want to hire all of your people for every event but you need to adapt a localised response to the pandemic, making sure you deliver excellent service despite the stop-and-go operations.
Optimization Tips for Your Catering Business
As Goddard’s study has pointed out, online transactions played a huge part in keeping food businesses afloat in the year 2020. In 2021, with more businesses likely to open again, the competition will be tough so you must be proactive. Focusing efforts on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the first step to win over your competitors.
1. SEO and Your Catering Business
SEO is a process of getting greater website visibility by hitting the first page of search engine results. Visible websites get better traffic, more conversions, and more earnings. For the catering business, SEO is not just a trend but a necessity as customers are perceived to be more critical of advertisements. Caterers are encouraged to focus on organic SEO since it is more reliable and there are less chances of putting the website in jeopardy. Here are some tips to get you started with your organic SEO:
2. Study your audience and potential clients
Your clients are people who want the best celebration of life events, meaning, they want caterers who can satisfy hungry guests and make them remember the occasion for a long time. The initial part of your SEO efforts should be on studying your audience and potential clients. Who are the people in your area who are booking caterers? What are the usual occasions when such services are needed? What kind of food do they mostly prefer? Studying your audience can be done through online profiling tools. You can also check with your competitors and study the audience profile that they are serving to better understand your market behaviour and preference.
3. Defining your content and strategies
Content is dubbed king of SEO for years and rightfully so. This encompasses all things in your website from the blog posts, Frequently Asked Questions, testimonials or reviews, to the images, and videos you upload.
Your content goal is to provide information to your prospective clients - seeking to answer their questions - so yours become their favourite site to visit. Is the bulk of your clientele couples who are tying the knot? You can create contents that talk about the set-up, food, and reception tips. By establishing authority in this niche, Google will give rewards to your website for its reputable contents. Detecting the authority of your website, the search engine will give it a higher rank.
4. Prioritize local
You can create content for a global audience and optimize at that level but, remember that your target audience is the people living in your area. You need to target your content so it attracts visitors within your locality - the people who are going to book your services.
Local SEO is a strategy that helps businesses become more visible in Google’s local search results. This is a strategy that is especially helpful for businesses with physical location. Aside from leading visitors to your site, this also shows a map with listings underneath showing your basic information.
5. Invest in visuals
Can sharing your recipes make you lose clients? This is an innovative move done by sites like Delish and Tasty and, instead of affecting caterers, their recip videos added interest to the food industry. Instead of worrying about losing clients, the recipes can stir interest in what you do, the menu items you can provide, and the services that you can offer.
Aside from recipes, you can also share videos tackling reception etiquette, menu choosing tips for different occasions, and other aspects to showcase your business. Again, you can check some competitors on how they are using visual resources to encourage clients to come to the site and eventually book their services.
6. Sign up for Google My Business
Your ultimate goal is to be more visible to your target market and be part of the business listing in Google My Business (GMB). Your Business Profile gives you management over it so it is easier to edit the details and information to lead potential clients to your site.
You may create and manage your own GMB profile or hire an SEO agency in Toronto to help you with it. Apart from managing your profile for updates and answering questions, these professionals can also write SEO-friendly descriptions to help with your ranking.
7. Sign up for other local listings
Aside from GMB, you also have other local listings to help you reach more clients. Facebook Marketplace, Yelp,Bing, LinkedIn, and Yellow Pages are just a few of these directories that you can sign up for.
Managing local listings may seem a tedious task but these are important in improving your local rankings and getting people to book your service. Accurate listings can provide clients with ways to find you. It becomes easier to call your office or visit personally to talk about what you can offer them for big and small celebrations.
8. Give updates on your business
Do not forget to post updates about your business on your website and social media channels. In the middle of the pandemic, people are more concerned about how their food is prepared and the safety standards and protocols followed by personnel. You may also include stories about your staff and other interesting bits that will make clients more comfortable booking your services.
Catering businesses are gaining traction with the suspension of a few pandemic restrictions. Gain followers and clients by becoming visible online. Use the right marketing and optimization strategies to get to the top of search engine results.