by Stuart Leventhal
There’s no such thing anymore as ‘spare no expense’! Today, even corporate giants, staples of business and industry icons are counting their pennies. Certainly caterers need to be able to put together respectable meal packages that fit into their clients’ budgets. But, planning your catering marketing strategy around having the lowest prices is a grave mistake. You are in an industry that thrives on prestige. You want your company name and brand to be known for playing an important role in throwing the best parties and events in town!
Becoming known as the go to budget caterer will limit your customer base extremely. There will be tons and tons of potential customers who will never want their events, parties and reputations sullied because they are associated with the cheapest catering service in town. Remember, as a caterer, you service celebrations. Celebrations usually honor someone or something; a person worthy of praise, a happening of distinction or an over and above accomplishment. If you were the party thrower, would you want everyone talking for years about how you hired a low budget catering company to cater your boss’s prestigious award banquet? Or worse, never being able to live down how bad the food and service was for your favorite Aunt and Uncle’s 50th anniversary bash that you planned!
No matter how inexpensive you make your catering service, you cannot afford to advertise, promote and market low price as the selling point. Catering is an industry where reputation means everything. The more you advertise how cheap you are, the more you tarnish your reputation! Instead, shout about how good your food is and how ideal your services are. Cultivating a classy, professional and reliable image then take that message to the streets! I’m assuming, of course that you already serve great food, have great menu choices and most importantly deliver great service.
Yes, everyone today is faced with a discretionary budget. Celebrations, events and parties, which you service, are considered frills. Today’s small and medium business owners have cut down considerably on the number of meetings events and parties they throw out of necessity to maintain their bottom line. This means you have to work harder to establish yourself as the premier caterer in the land. No longer can you sit back and rely on repeat business from your long time loyal customers. During these economically challenging times it is more important than ever to wage war with your competitors in order to draw in as many customers as you can.
We already talked about how lowering prices will soil your reputation and be the long term death of your business. And, increasing advertising is too costly during slow times. Besides, traditional advertising methods are no longer working. People are no longer responding to commercials like they did in the past. Today’s caterers need new methods for reaching their customer base and innovative techniques of persuasion if they are going to grow their profit margins and succeed in today’s market place. When your owner or upper management is asking you to cut the advertising budget and ordering you to scale down traditional commercials on a large scale, what can you do? You are being pestered to raise profits and grow customer counts. Your back is against the wall! The question is, are you going to fold and throw in the cards or rise up to the challenge? Yes, you can do everything your bosses are asking of you and more! How?
Every marketing plan today, catering included, must prioritize leveraging the most modern networking tool in man’s history, the internet. The technological information super highway is loaded with plenty of efficient marketing methods. Many are low cost and a lot are even free. The number one internet promotional method based on effectiveness and cost is social media. Now is the time to grow your presence on the web. Leveraging the proper social marketing avenues will expand your reach quicker and more effectively than any other form of advertising or promotion paid for or otherwise. Your catering business will grow and you’ll save money as you cut out the old, much more costly, traditional advertising; TV, radio, newspaper ads and the yellow pages that are not working anyway.
Evidence shows that today, people go online to search for goods and services rather than pick up a phone book. People want to know where they’re going and as many detail they can get prior to heading out the door. That is why catering businesses need to create an online presence if they are going to attract new customers and retain their regular customers. People are getting used to the convenience of having instant, available information, online customer service, plus the ease of phoneless order placing.
You don’t need to hire someone with a degree in internet marketing, you don’t need to sign up for night courses in internet marketing and best of all you don’t need a large budget. But, you do need to get started now before your competition passes you by!
The secret to growing profits in a catering business is developing your ability to find clients then convince them to hire you. Promoting online is not difficult or expensive. But, getting good consistent results can be confusing and even mysterious. If approached properly, internet marketing can be learned quickly and accomplished with a minimal amount of time and money invested.
Yes, I realize that most caterers do not have the knowledge or the time to invest in mastering online marketing. Some of you may choose to hire someone to implement your online promotions for you. Of course, like anything else, that option will cost you money that really isn’t necessary to spend. All that is needed is a little determination to learn something new; a new skill that I promise will earn you dividends for years to come. The internet is not going anywhere. It just keeps getting bigger and more efficient.
So, what do we have to do?
Local internet marketing means getting your catering business on the web and in as many places as possible, to create a positive professional online presence. You first need a website and then some marketing tools which will help people find your website. First we create a website then we rank your website well in the search engines like; Google, yahoo and Bing. What is important to note here is that the closer we move your website to the top of the search engines list of results, the more people will click on your link and visit your catering information on your website. A basic course on this can be purchased for $5 at:
There are also numerous businesses you can pay to handle all your internet marketing needs. How you choose to set up, grow and maintain your internet presence is up to you just know that neglecting or putting off your internet marketing campaign can be deadly to any local business, especially a catering business. Besides your website, you will need to create a customer engaging blog with which you communicate with your customers on a regular basis. Free advice on blogging can be found here:
It’s easy and free; if you write the blog post yourself, which I highly recommend. Although you can also contract out your blogging which won’t cost much if you hire a computer savvy student.
A social media course as well as free tips and other tools to help you increase the traffic to your website can be found here: http://anewtale.com/tweeting.html
The real trick to internet marketing is to structure your website, blog and social media accounts to all help build your email campaign. As a local catering operation it is much more effective to email your catering list a coupon, for example, than to post the same coupon on your website or blog. Your blog course, website building course and social media course will teach you tricks for capturing your visitors’ email addresses. Once you build a large email list you can contact your catering customers at your own convenience. A good email building course can be found here:
*re-cap – The three components to a successful internet campaign are; setting up a website, maintaining a blog and engaging in social media. The mission of these three tactics is to gain prospects contact information, especially their email address so we can contact them at our convenience. The easiest, most effective and cheapest way to maintain contact with our customers is through a properly launched and maintained email campaign.
*More tips and advice about each of these important online marketing methods as well as other online promotion and advertising ideas and tricks of the trade will be coming soon since we need more room to do each of these important subjects justice.