Online Marketing is the best way for catering companies to grow
It’s no secret that online marketing is the most effective way for small businesses to get their names out there. However, if you own a catering company, the nature of what you do makes online marketing an even more effective method to promote your business.
Between the ways that having a website can smooth out the sales process and the way online marketing is the perfect way to showcase your talents, promoting a catering business online is basically a no brainer. It’s almost as if the web and social media were designed specifically to help businesses like yours succeed.
1. A website is the best salesperson you could have
When it comes to catering, most people already have an idea of what they want when they begin shopping around. If you have a website, potential customers can see what you have to offer right away. The ones who like what they see will save you time by educating themselves on your services.
You can put your entire menu online
The one thing consumers are most concerned with when looking for a caterer is the menu. After all, if someone is planning a southern BBQ meal for their wedding, they’re going to want to know if you can cook ribs. Do you have a fixed menu you don’t deviate from? Put it on the site. Are you super flexible and willing to prepare any dishes your customers want? Put it on the site. Do you have gluten free and vegetarian options available? Put it on the site.
Add prices. Tell potential customers how much you charge to cook for 10 people and for 100 people. Tell them how much it costs to make substitutions. Tell them if you decorate and serve in addition to just providing the food, and how much those services cost.
In short, put everything your potential customers might want to know about what you serve and what you charge on your website. This lets people determine whether you’re right for them before they ever contact you, and it can put you on someone’s shortlist of caterers where a simple ad in the Yellow Pages wouldn’t.
2. Show off your stuff
I don’t know about you, but seeing photos of expertly prepared food gets my mouth watering. And I’m not alone – people love looking at photos of food. Your website is the perfect place to showcase the kind of food you prepare.
When it comes to sharing photos of your meals, the most important thing is photo quality. You might want to hire a professional photographer to take photos at a few events, but you will likely want to regularly add your own photos as well. It will pay off big time if you know how to take your own photos. You don’t need a lot of fancy equipment - if you own a DSLR, you’re all set, but even iPhones and other smart phones can take great photos.
Don’t forget about social media
Your website isn’t the only place to share your photos. If you’ve been to a restaurant in the last 10 years, you’ve seen people taking pictures of their meals and posting them to social media. “Food porn” is one of the most popular subjects for social media with literally millions of people clicking on photos of tasty dishes every day.
Here at LinkNow Media, we advise all of our clients to invest time in social media, and the two standard sites that people use are Facebook and Twitter. But for a visually oriented business like yours, you should probably also spend some time with Instagram and Pinterest. These are both social media networks that are focused primarily on sharing images, and food photos do extremely well.
3. Build a following with a catering blog
Here at LinkNow Media, we’ve written over and over again about how important producing content is to helping websites rank well in search results. The unfortunate thing is that for the owners of many small businesses, their industries don’t naturally lend themselves to blogging.
But this is definitely not the case for caterers. The very nature of your business means that you would have a huge amount to write about that potential customers might find interesting. You can share new and exciting recipes, tips for event planning, and stories from your business. Combine these topics with photo posts, and you’ll have a nearly limitless supply of blog posts up your sleeve.
This is great for two reasons – first, as I said above, producing content related to your industry helps boost your site’s search rankings, which is important if you want potential customers to find you. The second reason is that good blog content can earn a following in its own right. It can help you establish a name for yourself as an expert in the industry, and boost your company’s name recognition
Don’t waste time – get started online today
Despite the fact that catering companies can reap the benefits of online marketing so easily, there are still many companies in the industry that haven’t even taken their first steps onto the web. There’s no time like the present! It will take time for your website to gain search ranking and for your social media and blog to attract an audience, so the sooner you start the better.
If you’ve already started building your online presence, do you have any tips for other caterers who are just starting out? Have you hit any snags along the way? Let us know in the comments or drop us a line on Twitter: @linknowmedia