Back in the day, before we all carried smartphones and social media became King, small food companies were mostly dependent on footfall, printed media reviews and word-of-mouth. However, things have changed, and as a food entrepreneur in the digital age, you have the opportunity to really get your business out there online.
This is an exciting development for small, local food businesses. Prior to the digital age, even a low-quality vendor would do well, so long as they had a prime location. These days, though there is even an opportunity for the ambitious, small business operating out of a home kitchen to find success.
With the right branding and marketing strategy, there is a fantastic opportunity to celebrate your food with a much larger audience than ever before. And with more and more of us enjoying and celebrating the power of food, there’s never been a better time to be apart of the food industry.
#1: Social Media
Recent statistics from the National Restaurant Association, lay bare the importance that food establishments are placing in social media.
90% of restaurant owners attribute their success to their increasing dependence on social media marketing, and 95% are either already using Facebook or plan to use it as part of their strategy in the future. The fact is, 28% of consumers choose where to eat using social media – something that small food businesses can’t ignore.
#2: Content Marketing[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z2VLIPVPeTo]
Content marketing is all about creating authority by sharing in-depth knowledge and expertise. The more comprehensive and exciting content you can contribute to your niche, the higher your chances are of ranking for your relevant keywords.
If your content proves to be genuinely insightful and dynamic, then your audience will realise its value, because it answers their questions and addresses their interests.
Getting a blog up and running is becoming increasingly important, as it gives Google’s spiders a reason to come back to index the site because you’re creating more and more unique content.
While you can focus some content specifically on your niche, it’s also a good idea to broaden your criteria slightly sometimes and create things that people are searching for, such as ‘How to Cut an Onion Without Crying’, which at the time of writing is searched for 480 times a month in the UK alone.
This gives you a chance to tap into a broader market that might not be aware of you.
#3: Photo Sharing Sites
When it comes to exposing a small food brand online via photo-sharing platforms, sites like Instagram and Pinterest are just the tip of the iceberg.
More targeted food communities exist on Chowhound, dishPal, and Flickr. Some of them may only have a small reach, but the audience they do have is more receptive to you, given that your interest is the same.
#4: Enable Online Ordering
Depending on the kind of food you work with, you may already be using a website for ecommerce purposes to package and ship your product.
But even if you’re serving something that needs to be dished up within minutes, the potential for branching out into online ordering is vast.
Research tells us that delivery options are projected to grow more three times the rate of on-premises sales between now and 2023.
Still not convinced the demand is out there?
- In 2018, Just Eat had 26.3 million active users worldwide.
- Deliveroo now works with over 80,000 restaurants, employs 60,000 riders and has more than 2,500 other employees in Australia, Belgium, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Ireland, Netherlands, Singapore, Spain, Taiwan, UAE, Kuwait and the UK.
Whether you’re run an upscale restaurant, a bakery or a small food start-up, there’s plenty of scope to expand your business through online ordering. Whether that be delivering food or even using an app like Yelp’s NoWait, which gives hungry diners a list of available tables at restaurants without the wait.
Food apps have captured huge market share, more so than ever in 2019, and these trends look sure to continue into this year too.
#5: Concentrate on Local Search
The importance of optimising for local search has become more and more prominent, particularly when you consider the following stats, as per HubSpot:
- 46% of all Google searches are looking for local information.
- 72% of consumers that perform a local search visit a physical store within five miles of their location.
- 97% of people learn more about a local company online than through any other outlet.
These statistics make a whole lot of sense when you think that the internet is the perfect research method for people on the go who are looking to solve a query quickly.
It’s vital to ensure that these people are able to find you by creating and updating your Google My Business listing. Here you can specify your location, business information and even showcase essential products and your latest blog posts.
Also list your business on as many local directories as possible, if you haven’t done so already. Not only does this increase your exposure, but it also improves authority in that your company information is consistent across numerous sources. This provides a trust factor for potential customers and Google, as it helps to verify who you are and what you do.
#6: Going Mobile
It’s happened to all of us, you get home, and there’s nothing in the fridge, or you’re simply too beat to cook, so you’ll order food from one of your favourite take out places.
But when you’re out and about in an area that isn’t familiar to you, your reaction is to reach for your smartphone for help.
Another stat from the HubSpot research we mentioned earlier, that really stood out was the fact that 61% of mobile searchers are more likely to make contact with a local business if the company’s website is mobile-friendly.
In short, this means your website needs to look good and function properly on a mobile device – you’d be surprised by the number of sites that don’t. In fact, a 2018 study of the top 1 million websites in the world found that nearly 24% of them are not responsive.
This increases bounce rates and will do nothing more than send traffic away from your business to another food outlet.
The digital age, combined with a greater understanding of where our food comes from, means that there’s never been a better time to be a small food business owner.
Before we relied on smartphones and social media, there was very little way to tell customers that, although your business is relatively small, the quality is absolutely second to none. Now though, the potential for your food business online is boundless.