The current situation with Covid-19 has created unprecedented challenges for all businesses, in particular those in the food and drink industry. Many businesses have been forced to change their business model entirely in an attempt to adapt to the ‘new normal’, but are at a loss about how to effectively market this new venture.
While we may not have control over the situation, we do have control over our response to the situation. We have put together a series of articles to help food producers and food businesses – including restaurants and cafés – to navigate their marketing during this time and find the opportunity in this crisis.
We cover the key elements for getting started – including developing a strong online presence and strategy, generating leads and driving online sales, and developing an effective communications strategy in a time of Coronavirus.
The first is A Brief Overview To Developing an Online Strategy for Product Sales:
A Brief Overview To Developing an Online Strategy for Product Sales
This is a difficult time for all businesses with the uncertainty of the current climate. However, watching businesses innovate and grow in order to adapt is inspiring and showcases the importance of resilience in business. It also highlights the fact that consumers want to support Irish businesses and see them thrive, now more so than ever. Marketing your business and promoting your products online can help your business continue to flourish even in these difficult times.
First things first, the most important thing you can do for your business at the moment is to keep followers up-to-date on what products your business has on offer and what is available for delivery or collection. Loyal customers want to support their favourite businesses, but they can’t do this unless they know how to help. Think about your consumers and how they shop. Do they use social media? If so, what platforms do they use? Promoting your products across your social media channels regularly and providing information on how to order (whether through direct messages on social media or from the website) will inform customers and help give sales a boost.
Use imagery to inspire
When it comes to social media, strong imagery is crucial to engage consumers; the right picture can do the hard selling for you. This is particularly relevant when we are talking about the food industry considering the visual element is so vital to the overall experience of the product.
Aim for a mix of professional product photography, tagged photos that customers have taken of your products, and images of your products being used or enjoyed.
The aim is to inspire your followers by showing the various ways that they can use your products at home. Displaying multiple photos of each product on your website and across social media is a great way to showcase your items and entice shoppers to make a purchase.
Content is key
As we know, content is king and it is important to consider the type of content you are creating for your website. Think about what your consumers want and how you can give that to them. For example informative content such as recipes using your products would be a smart way to engage with them.
Video is a great way to connect and communicate efficiently with potential customers. If you don’t have the equipment necessary for videos, blog posts are also an engaging format where you can share your expertise. The more relevant and valuable content you offer, the more people will visit your website and the more likely you are to increase your sales.
Having the option to subscribe to a newsletter is a great way to build an engaged audience – subscribers can choose to be updated on new posts on the website and general news updates. Email marketing is also a worthwhile tool – it costs almost nothing to produce and is an effective way to encourage traffic to your site.
Connect with your followers
It is important to remember that the customers we have now will still be our customers after this current situation is over. Treating everyone with kindness and care whilst taking the highest precautions must be a priority. Implementing an engaging customer experience and encouraging new customers to become repeat customers is key to drive businesses forward. Update your social media with the strategies you are using to keep safe, and maintain an overall tone of positivity in your posts. Customer service is just as important online as it is in real life. Replying to comments or queries on social media channels, having a contact number that people can use, and ensuring that any problems are addressed promptly helps to reassure customers that they can relax and engage safely with your business.
Identify your goals
Pinpointing the goals you want to set for your business and what you want from your online strategy is key. Do you want to drive brand awareness, or is the goal to increase sales? Monitor your current approach and identify which strategies work best for your business to suit your goals. This is the most important element of building an online strategy as it means that you learn from what’s not working, as well as finding out more about your consumers and their preferences.
What do your customers interact with and respond well to? If your audience on Instagram loves to see the ‘behind the scenes’ of running the business, make sure to post that. If your product offering changes daily, stories are a great feature to use as they inform consumers what products are currently available and avoid potential customer disappointment. Stories also allow you to stay in touch with consumers more frequently without annoying them by posting too often.
A final word
Social media is a free tool which should be utilised to maintain your hard-earned relationships with consumers during these unprecedented times. It allows you to keep that connection with your online community and keep them updated on all new business developments.
We are all craving a bit of normality and the smallest thing, like a blog post with your favourite recipe, can make all the difference.