Every great brand starts with a story. Your brand story as a chef, restaurateur or food entrepreneur is no different. Just as people love great food, they love a great story to match. The word of good food travels and you want to expose your business to the right people.
Of course, life as an entrepreneur is not easy, and there are many challenges to face. According to “The 2017 Entrepreneurship Report” by Drip, the biggest challenges entrepreneurs face is access to capital, time, marketing and branding. It’s important to remember that if it only took desire, ambition, and hard work, there would be a lot of businesses still standing.
All brands are made better by a great story, so starting with your story is a key ingredient.
- What made you go into the food business?
- Are your recipes passed down from your grandmother?
- How about the menu?
- How did you name the dishes?
- Are the ingredients from local farmers?
These stories connect you to your customers and will assist you in building relationships with your target market. Relationship-building is the key ingredient to a booming brand.
I have a great affinity for my clients in the food industry. Mostly because I love everything about great food and it makes my job more interesting. Food is often at the center of great gatherings and building relationships. However, working with clients in the food industry comes with a different set of challenges.
Most food entrepreneurs not only wear the chef hat but must take account of the business operations as well, such as communications, bookkeeping, and marketing. In today’s market, the adage of “if you build it, they will come” should not be the launching pad for your business. Every great brand must have a strategy and an execution plan on paper.
When it comes to marketing, a great strategy is reaching out to food bloggers and influencers. Social media is your friend because food makes for great content. Brands should be active with social media to stay relevant and engaged with the public, which will help shape their target market. Also, be sure to include your brand’s hashtag, so your customers can share their experiences with each other. By doing this, you will capture new customers. Another strategy is to build relationships with businesses in your area because their employees will spread their word amongst their peers.
Use Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest to connect with your market by providing fresh and interesting content. This may be in the form of images, videos, or chats. Once you get the hang of social media, you will figure out which platform is best suited for your target. For instance, Instagram may provide a better platform for your business than LinkedIn or Facebook.
Remember, just as good news travels, so does bad news. As a food entrepreneur, quality of service is extremely important. If the customer service is bad, or the food doesn’t taste good, you’re going to hear about it from your customer. Use social media as a tool to manage relationships. See a negative review? Offer the customer an apology and ask for a second chance.
I’ve suggested that clients prepare a response that can be used for unsatisfied customers. At the end of the day, customers want to feel like they’ve been heard. As a business owner, you don’t want to respond to a customer as though they are agitating you. Not only will you lose the customer, they will tell their friends and family. This you cannot afford, so you need to be effective in protecting your brand. Asking your customers for feedback and implementing their feedback is extremely valuable to you.
Entrepreneurship is certainly on the rise. A strong brand often is the key to keeping a business operating successfully. To recap, these are the top five ways to brand your food business:
- Tell your brand story – what’s so important about your business?
- Connect with Influencers and Bloggers – they have the power to reach the masses and spread the news that you are in business.
- Make sure your food and presentation are good – sight, smell, and taste – especially in the age of digital. People are taking pictures of everything and sharing it with the world.
- Connect with your customers (be present and engaged) and be open to feedback. Consider your customers your focal group.
- Network where and when you’re able. There is power in connections, and you are a walking and talking brand.
Remember finding your balance, and sweet spot in business takes time, especially when it comes to branding. By implementing the above tactics to your food business early, you will be on your way to a successful brand, one that your customers will emotionally connect to and feel part of. Enjoy the journey, remember why you started and be sure to tell your awesome brand story.
About the Author
Anna Foster is the founder and CEO of A Maven’s World, a leading female empowerment organization that strives to provide resources for women to achieve their goals. The company recently launched its Annual Women’s Conference in Tampa, FL.
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