It’s the dawn of a new decade, and, big surprise, marketing is changing again! For caterers and other leaders in the hospitality business, how you connect with customers across the noisy digital landscape matters.
As marketing professionals, we’re always paying attention to new technology, data-backed tools and approaches to marketing that are born out of real customer experiences in such a niche industry as catering.
We’re excited to present on the latest marketing trends at Catersource in our session, “45 Marketing Trends & Ideas in 45 Minutes.” Here are just a few of the trends we’ll be discussing this year:
Venue comparison tool
We’re especially excited about this tool, as it’s exclusive to the catering industry. After nine years of building catering websites, we realized that searching and comparing venues is a bit like buying a car – people like to be able to compare choices in one concise snapshot versus one-by-one.
We designed a venue comparison tool that does just that. This tool makes it easier for couples and corporate meeting planners looking to narrow down their perfect location on your website. This tool allows users to select filters like capacity, location, indoor or outdoor preference — even specific amenities! Once they make their selections, they can compare venues side-by-side to help them make an educated decision and determine which one they like best.
Photo courtesy of nuphoriq
Behind the scene videos
Think of shows like Top Chef that take viewers behind the scenes of a culinary experience. People eat that up, right? It only makes sense that this is a good online engagement strategy that’s also a brilliant brand awareness tool.
When potential followers see a video of a particularly passionate chef talking about a creation, these users are naturally more inclined to build their own perception and form a relationship with your brand.
Another exciting trend in this arena is start-to-finish presentations. People want to know about how that empty space became an incredible scene full of tables, lights and creative food stations.
The beauty of these videos is that they can be used in many different way—on social media, in blog posts, throughout the sales process. And video doesn’t have to be hard! We film our social media videos with an iPhone in our conference room.
Email automation is defined as a “set of processes and technologies used to send emails automatically to customers.” It utilizes software that allows catering businesses to regularly connect and significantly reduce the time and effort it takes for sales teams to send emails.
We hear it from caterers all the time: “Why am I drowning in a sea of unqualified leads?” “Why are people who aren’t even in my delivery range sending me emails? How do I weed out the low-ball inquiries?” You get the gist. Your sales team can probably recite your most commonly asked questions and your responses in their sleep. If they’re getting enough sleep, that is.
Automation allows you to tailor specific emails to various types of client responses without wasting precious time that can be spent on following up with actual leads. It forgoes the agony of creating manual responses and allows your sales team to respond with more personalized, direct responses to the more serious leads.
“Hey Google, where can I find affordable catering in my area?”
“Alexa, what are some unique wedding venues in Chicago?”
1 in 4 Americans own a smart speaker. And by the end of this year, 50% of all searches across the internet will be voice-based. Speakers are everywhere — on refrigerators, in bathrooms and in cars. It’s safe to say that voice search assistants like Google Home and Amazon Echo are only increasing in popularity, and consumers continue to formulate new ways to find what they want.
Voice search will change the complexity of the way people narrow down catering, so those keywords (i.e., “historic venues in Boston” or “lunch catering in Philadelphia”) remain as important as ever.
We still have 37 more trends to share with you! Be sure to attend our session, “45 Marketing Trends and Ideas in 45 Minutes.” Our very own Jamie Pritscher will be on hand to answer any questions about these trends and more.
Instagram is starting to prioritize business accounts that aren’t buying likes, and are dedicated to making REAL connections with people that allows for more organic growth.
Luckily, caterers are all too good at being real!
In a business that’s all about people, it’s pretty easy to “humanize” what it is you’re selling. Your social media content should show your employees behind your brand and provide fun, engaging content that is relevant to your followers.
It’s also important to look at social media as an extension of your customer service. Response time to people’s comments is becoming a more debated topic in social media marketing as a whole.
Photo courtesy of nuphoriq
Geofencing is “the practice of using global positioning (GPS) or radio frequency identification (RFID) to define a geographic boundary” (Geomarketing.com). Once the barrier is established, an administrator can receive a notification when a mobile device enters (or exits) the specified area.
Facebook is a pro at this. Think about when you’re searching for places to eat in your area, and an ad for a couple of places nearby conveniently appears on the side of your Facebook page. For caterers, this means that you can locate people with relevant demographics and target them with ads about timely events like a big bridal show.
Is your website ADA-compliant — meaning whether or not with disabilities affecting their “hearing, vision or physical capacities” can use it. It’s a legitimate question, but not one that is immediately considered. A lot of caterers come to us with these old, antiquated sites, and don’t always realize that their site is non-compliant.
Though there are no official standards for what makes a website accessible, when we build sites for caterers, we follow accessibility guidelines known as WCAG. These guidelines were created by W3C, the international community responsible for maintaining a healthy internet.
So, why should you care about ADA compliance standards? Because your catering business can technically be presented with a lawsuit if a person with a disability is unable to use your site.
Secondly, ADA compliance actually improves your search efforts. If your website meets guidelines, it means that not only can search engines crawl it, but it’s also more reader friendly. This goes a long way when it comes to SEO.
People who order food for their corporate event don’t just want a platter of food with saran wrap over the top. If the platter is for an important meeting or presentation, they want something that looks good on the table, too.
It’s important for branding and packaging to be beautiful and consistent. It can be simple, too. Think about iPhone packaging. This year, we’re expecting to see a lot of caterers make bigger investments in how food is presented.
Lead photo courtesy of nuphoriq