Pieces of the Marketing Puzzle: Choosing the Best Ways to Advertise Your Catering Company
The good news: There are so many great ways to advertise your catering company these days! (Thanks, Internet!) Bad news: There are so many ways to advertise your catering company these days – how do you choose?
Here’s an easy guide to help you sort through the pieces of the marketing puzzle so you can choose the best ways of marketing for your catering company.
Thanks to social media and Google AdWords, even the smallest company can put together a pretty sophisticated-looking marketing campaign. And it doesn’t even have to take that much effort. You just need to make sure you:
1. Make a plan. (Don’t just put stuff out there willy-nilly. Do you want to go with paid advertising, unpaid, partnerships? So many choices!)
2. Go where your audience is. (How do they find you and where do they talk to you?)
3. Engage with your audience! (Make it a conversation!)
Here are some of the tools you can use to help with marketing for your catering company.
Social Media Content Management
Communicating with your audience on a regular basis keeps you at the top of their mind. When posting things on social media, think about what’s going to keep your audience engaged and what they’d like to share with others. (Friends sharing with friends is the real trick to growing your audience, because that’s one of the big ways to get more new people to see you.) Try sharing behind-the-scenes photos, posting your new seasonal catering menu on Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram, or sharing community news on your Facebook wall.
Use each social platform based on the audience you’re looking for. Twitter and Facebook are great for article sharing, although Twitter tends to be faster paced. There’s also Twitter etiquette to follow. Make sure you respond when people mention you in a tweet, thank people for retweets, and really engage with the people who are following you. People like Twitter users who interact, so use a program like Hootsuite or Sprout Social to track mentions and retweets of your own tweets. LinkedIn is a great way to connect with business owners and event planners. Pinterest and Instagram are great ways to reach individuals interested in visuals of your business. Instagram is huge for weddings and shopping right now.
Contacting past customers can remind them how much they enjoyed your services, which can lead to them consider you again for an upcoming event. Sending out a monthly newsletter can keep guests informed of your abilities, your work, and the enthusiasm you have for catering. People love to work with businesses that love what they do.
Newsletters are great for prospective clients, too, because you’re sending information instead of just blatantly marketing to them. It helps prospects get to know you without feeling the pressure of a hard sell. Newsletters are a great addition to a drip marketing campaign, where you slowly feed information that not only helps your readers but also makes you look knowledgeable.
Working with business and community partners is a great way to build recognition with audiences you want to reach. Partner with companies and not-for-profit organizations with whom you share a target audience. Then, build those relationships. For example, introduce each other in monthly newsletters or through your social media channels. Sponsor events with each other. Send each other referrals. Consumers are more likely to follow and use products and services that a company or friend they know suggests to them. Forming these partnerships should help you make connections, increase your visibility and your audience, and ultimately bring in more business.
Public Relations and Community Relations
One of the best forms of PR is helping with and sponsoring pro bono events. Business owners who are involved in their communities are more recognizable and are greatly appreciated by the public. Working with not-for-profit orgs during fundraising events is a great way to gain positive PR and recognition.
When you start your business, celebrate a milestone, or are doing something awesome for the community (such as pro bono work), it’s important to let people know. Send a press release to local radio stations, newspapers, and news stations about what your catering company is doing. If the event or news is significant, it is likely to be covered by the media.
For press releases, you want to think less like a marketing pro or business owner and more like a journalist. Focusing strictly on the facts of your event without adding a lot of marketing fluff, as well as using the proper PR format, will make your story more likely to be picked up. Make sure to front load your press release with all the facts, so if your release has to be edited for space, all the critical info will make it in – and it makes it easier for people on the other end to edit. Wikihow.com has a great article about how to write a press release. Blogger and journalist Nash Riggins also offers up some great tips for writing a snappy press release.
Any one of these marketing tools can help build your business and attract customers. The best thing to do is to put several of these tools together to create a cohesive marketing plan.
Ready to be inspired and informed? For the latest in catering industry news and trends and small business marketing, join the conversation on social media. Follow TPPSoftware on Twitter, like Total Party Planner on Facebook, and explore our boards on Pinterest.
Want to get advice from other caterers and find out how they do things? Join the conversation with #CaterQuest on Twitter!