FINDING CATERING CLIENTS
Marketing Designed Around Thorough Market Research
By Stu Leventhal
We find our first catering client leads while we are doing our market research. We have already discussed how by first doing keen, thorough market analysis we decide on our catering menu selections and what catering services we wish to offer to provide our surrounding communities. Market research also guides us with designing our competitive pricing structure and for preparing highly effective promotional strategies. By gathering then studying our market data we uncover which catering niches are easiest to target then design our new or revised catering services to capitalize on those easy opportunities.
At this stage, you should have already gathered a lot of data about your neighborhood including population demographics and business lists of some potential catering clients with contact info. This research was an important part of narrowing down and defining your catering services, products and menus. So, you should already have a good idea of some catering clients in your neighborhood that you wish to go after. Best of all, you would have already compiled all your competitor’s catering menus and marketing and promotional pieces. This data would have aided you in picking an easy catering niche to sell to. Hopefully you decided on a catering niche based on the service being in high demand in your neighborhood and there being no competition, few competitors or inferior competition to contend with. If you have not done all this research already, you need to catch up.
Now, here is where the real data research comes into play. You need to disguise your voice and call all you competitors under the guise that you are planning a catered party that you would like them to bid on. Tell them it is important that they give you referrals from their happy past clients or they won’t be considered. You need to next look over all your competitor’s menus because a lot of times testimonials and referrals are printed right on the menus. Also look up each of your competitors’ websites because they post referrals and testimonials from happy clients there too. All these referrals and testimonial givers are going to become your beginning priority list of clients because these are people and companies who you know for sure are buying catering already.
When you get your competitors’ bids on your fictitious catering event, you will have in front of you, all the information you need to come up with a plan to win over your competitions best customers. Study their offers to you, especially their pricing. You should now easily be able to come up with a special deal to blow each of your competitions’ services away! Now simply design a custom special offer for each client your competitors gave you as their referrals. Design your specially crafted offers to at a glance be instantly recognizable as a much better deal than the bid your competitors sent in to you for your fictitious gig. If you do not win the account over the first time, keep upping the ante, even if you have to send them an offer they cannot refuse! Your goal is to get your foot in the door.
Gaining More Catering Leads and Clients
Call all; convention centers, hotels, country clubs, museums, theaters, religious places of worship and banquet halls in your area, again under the guise of you are planning a celebration and ask for their referral lists for corporate event planners. Again you also want to request referrals from past clients of the above organizations and look over all their publicity and promotional info looking for leads and names and contact info for their past clients. It is standard practice in the hospitality industry to post testimonials and supply referrals from people, companies and organizations that have happily used ones establishments and services to throw events. You will want to contact and send promotional info to all of their happy customers in an attempt to offer them your services too.
Go on your computer and do a search for any type of company that services parties and is not a direct catering competitor of yours; florist shops, photographers, Bands, DJs, Tuxedo rental stores, wedding dress shops, hairdressers… again, request information with referrals and testimonials. There is your instant starting priority list of customers to contact and you haven’t spent a dime in advertising your services yet! Now all you have to do is start marketing to them all. Remember each type of target client requires separate marketing pieces and methods design to address their specific situations and needs! To market to them you need to know as much about them as possible. Then you customize your marketing to gain each targets attention.
For all non-competitors you want to send all of them your info announcing your services and a few menus and business cards. With non-competitors you are trying to partner with them where they will recommend you as the caterer of choice and you will recommend them as a photographer or florist of choice.
Make a habit of browsing the local newspapers society pages keeping an eye out for any functions or announcements of upcoming events that you might want to try to get involved with. Even if you cannot supply them with catering services you may still wish to show up for networking purposes of making new contacts and acquiring potential leads.
Sending out a well written press release describing and announcing your new catering services is another good free method of promoting. Your Press release should include your contact info, website address, your company history and personal bio as well as information about any key employee if it is flattering to the company image like your Chef’s name and where he studied or worked before joining your company. Tell why your catering service is unique, special and the best choice in the area. Send your news release to the event section of local newspapers, community bulletins,
Wedding Catering Client Leads
Check the local newspapers for the wedding registry page. Most engaged couples announce their wedding dates via the newspaper.
*Catering Sales Tips would be happy to mentor you or your organization on how to find more and more catering clients, setting up a marketing strategy and utilizing innovative low cost catering business promotional methods. Contact us for a free consultation: firstname.lastname@example.org