By Megan Prevost, marketing content writer for MustHaveMenus (www.musthavemenus.com)
The catering industry can be cutthroat, filled with many different businesses both large and small vying for the customer’s attention. To make a name for yourself, you have to stand out from the crowd. To do so, you’ll need to brand your company in a way that’s attractive to others. Ask yourself “why?” Why would people choose your business over another? Make a list of your answers, and then run with it.
After you’ve discovered your “why”, also known as your brand, it’s time to start thinking about marketing strategy and ways to get your name out there to potential event organizers and individuals.
Whether you’re looking to try out some new strategies, or you’re just starting out, here are five creative ways to boost sales and increase your marketing outreach.
1. Get Placed on “Preferred Vendor” Lists at Venues
Many venues offer a list of “preferred vendors” that they like to work with. Getting on one of these lists means that everyone who holds an event at that venue will see your company as an option. The increase in brand visibility will increase your booked events and sales directly. However, it can be challenging to get onto one of these lists, depending on the venue.
To start, make a list of the most popular venues in your area. Choose ones with good reviews that get a lot of business. A venue that’s booked out far in advance can prove valuable for your company.
After you’ve made your list, start contacting people. Check out their website to see if they have any forms or direct contact for partnership. Some venues may require specific things, so make sure to check that out as well before applying or sending over an email. Building a personal relationship with venues can also help get you on these lists, so don’t be afraid to spark conversation at a show or exhibition.
2. Upgrade Your Social Media Efforts
Did you know that 55% of consumers learn about new brands on social media channels like Facebook and Instagram? Over the past few years, more and more people have used social media to follow businesses alongside friends and celebrities. In fact, approximately 90% of Instagram users follow at least one brand.
With these statistics in mind, passing up social media isn’t the right move. Using social media as a platform to promote your business can help potential customers find you more easily. If you’re already on social media but you aren’t getting the results you want, you might need to step up your game.
To find success on social media, you need to post content that is informative, relevant to your brand, and helpful for your audience. There are many ways to do this, such as posting sales, availability, and general information about you and your business. You should use all channels available, such as stories, reels, posts, and more depending on the platform.
The more consistent you are, the more likely you are to show up in someone’s feed. Even if they aren’t planning on hosting an event now, they may remember your name in the future. On top of consistency, you should also promote a cohesive brand image across social media. Define your color scheme, logos, and voice to ensure that everything matches up. This will make your brand look more well put together and professional.
3. Create a Stand Out Menu
When choosing a catering company, many people rely on their menus, websites, and reviews in order to decide if it’s the right company to work with. In order to engage customers and prove that you’re professional and experienced, you’ll need to have a succinct, well-designed catering menu.
There are two types of catering menus you’ll want to consider. First, is your general offerings. This menu should showcase the types of food you can provide for different events. This menu, like your social media posts, should align with your brand image. Not only that, but it should feature smart food names and evocative descriptions.
Another menu you may want to consider is a prix fixe menu. These menus could be made for specific types of events or if you offer preset multi-course meals. Having a few preset menus makes it easier for customers to make a decision, and they’ll be able to showcase this prix fixe menu at their event. Having menus on display that showcase your brand will provide your business with greater visibility and brand recognition.
4. Encourage Positive Reviews
As is true with all consumer-facing businesses, reviews are everything, especially in the event industry. If your company has too many bad reviews, your business might be dead in the water. However, it’s possible to revive your company and receive those sweet, sweet five-star reviews. You should always respond to negative reviews to show that you’re putting in the effort and attempting to better your business. This will leave a better impression than leaving them without a response.
To increase your positive reviews, you can reach out to the people who left negative ones and attempt to solve the issue. Offer a coupon for their next booking, or a partial refund for any errors that occurred. Oftentimes, people who have had a bad experience simply want to be heard and acknowledged. Reaching out and hearing them through can often resolve the issue and convince them to remove the poor review. If you feel that a customer left an unwarranted bad review, you can reach out to Google, Yelp, or whatever service they used to have it removed.
You should also offer incentives for new customers to leave reviews after your service has been performed. This could be any number of things from a discount on their bill or their next booking to a complimentary number of desserts. Because people only tend to leave reviews when their experience is bad, it’s important to incentivize your customers to leave positive reviews.
You can make it easier to leave a positive review by placing a QR code linked to your Google My Business listing on their receipt or any other materials that you give them.
5. Make Sure Your Website is Perfect
Your website is often the first thing that potential customers see, so it’s important to make a good first impression. If your website is poorly designed or runs too slow, you’ll want to make updating it a priority. A poor website will cause potential customers to click away immediately, but a great one may inspire them to book you for their next event.
For your website to be effective, you should have a simple layout that features all of the information that people need to know before they contact you. You should include sample menus from previous events, potential menus for future events, booking information, prices, and availability.
To create a good website for your business, you can either use a website design tool or hire a professional. It’s possible to make a good website on your own, but hiring a professional will ensure that you’re left with a fantastic product that nails the first impression.
It’s Time to Take Your Catering Business to the Next Level
With these five tips in mind, it’s time to start working on improving your catering business. With hard work and dedication, you can get your name out there.
Analyze your business model and figure out what isn’t working. Do you need a new website? Are you posting on social media enough? Is your menu exciting? Put these tips into action and continue to work hard to achieve your goals for this year.