By: First Union
10 Effective Marketing Tips for Catering Business
Do you have a new catering business? There’s a lot more to know about marketing than you might expect. Effective marketing could mean the difference between your catering business surviving or not.
That’s why we’ve created this guide to marketing 101 for caterers.
#1 – Optimize Your Website
Your website should be so much more than just a digital billboard of your services. You should regularly add SEO-optimized blog posts to help generate traffic to your site. At a minimum, you should use “catering in (your city/)” as a keyword in every blog post.
What should you write about? You can write about catering industry trends, share your favorite recipes, or highlight a recent event that you catered. A variety of food- or catering-based content will help bring different people to your website.
#2 – Maximize Your Social Media Presence
Every business should use social media to promote themselves. However, catering companies are especially well-suited to using social media to promote their brand.
Regularly post high-quality pictures of food you’ve prepared. Instagram and Pinterest may be the most photo-friendly platforms, but don’t ignore Facebook or Twitter.
#3 – Network
Use every opportunity to meet as many people as possible and talk to them about your catering business. There is likely at least one networking group in your area, where people go specifically to make contacts with others. Offer discounts to people in your networking group and customers that they refer to you.
#4 – Become a Guest Blogger
Many food websites allow guest bloggers. Look into opportunities to contribute to a food blog. You can include one of your favorite recipes and a link to your website.
In addition to food blogs, you should try to get on wedding planning blogs. Offer a useful catering tip and provide a link for people to book you to cater their wedding.
The more exposure you can get on blogs around the web, the better. Constantly be on the lookout for more blogs you can contribute to. The more places that link back to your website, the better.
#5 – Do Tastings or Open Houses
One of the best ways to get people to book your catering is to get them to taste your food first. Tastings and open houses are two great ways to get people who might hire you to try your food.
With a small tasting, you invite no more than 10 people who are likely to hire you. The small setting allows everybody to get comfortable and can lead to several bookings.
With an open house, you invite up to 100 community members to taste your food at an event. There is a higher cost to you for an event like this, and a lower percentage of people might book you. However, 10% of 100 people is triple the amount of business you will get from 30% of 10 people.
#6 – Invest in a Professional Photographer and a Graphic Designer
You need to have an attractive logo and marketing materials. This is not negotiable. Boring marketing materials will turn away a lot of potential business. It's worth it to hire a graphic designer to help you create an eye-catching logo and appealing marketing materials.
Likewise, unless you have studied photography, you should hire a professional photographer for food photos. It doesn’t matter how tasty your food is if you can’t make it look good in promotional material. Spend the money for mouth-watering photos taken by a professional photographer.
#7 – Reserve Booths at Bridal Fairs
Weddings are big business for catering companies. A great way to book wedding gigs is to have a booth at several bridal fairs throughout the year. Offer tastes of your food along with your marketing materials to attract brides and others who are getting married.
People go to bridal fairs to get as much information as possible all in one place. A bridal fair is a chance to get in front of people before they talk to any other caterers.
#8 – Bring Your Business Cards Everywhere
Everywhere you go, ask if you can leave your business cards. You can offer a discount to companies who refer business to you.
Especially make it a point to bring business cards to complementary companies. That could be bakers who specialize in wedding cakes, party supply stores, or even bridal gown or tux rental stores.
#9 – Bring Samples to Farmer’s Markets and Local Businesses
Farmer’s markets are becoming increasingly popular, and people get hungry while picking up their favorite produce. Have a booth at your local market, bring samples, and have plenty of business cards and brochures available.
Local businesses are another great source of potential clients. Some businesses often work long hours and cater in lunches or dinners. Be sure to target the following businesses:
- Law offices
- Accounting firms (especially February through April/)
- Ad agencies
- Banks and financial offices
When you bring samples to these companies, make sure you talk to the receptionist. That’s the person who orders catering for the company, not the CEO.
#10 – Create a Loyalty Program
Some of your best business will come from referrals. Come up with a way to reward people who refer clients to you. You should also offer discounts to repeat clients to reward their loyalty.
A discount on their next catering service may work. However, you may get referrals from people who don’t need catering (especially if it’s somebody you met while networking/). Consider giving these people gift cards to something like Starbucks instead.
Financing Your Marketing
Do you need help financing some of these marketing ideas? First Union Lending can help. They have 9 different loan types, so you can find the best loan for your needs.
Lending specialists are available to help you with the process. Simply call 863-825-5626 or click here to get started.
Applying for a loan won’t affect your credit, and your loan could be approved as soon as today. Contact First Union Lending today to finance the marketing for your catering business.