4/4/2016 11:36 AM
Looking for new, inexpensive ways to brand your foodservice? Branding doesn’t have to cost your facility millions of dollars. Learn about these 6 tips that are easy to implement. Change the way people view your market segment and foodservice:)
1. Food Photos
You’ve likely heard the phrase “food porn” and if you’re on social media, you’ll see these foodie photos everywhere! The best way to promote your healthcare foodservice brand digitally is by posting those drool-worthy, eye pleasing food photographs. Take photographs yourself, ensure that the plating looks nice and always remember that lighting is key. You can post these food photos anywhere-- from social media to your organization’s website. Remember we eat with our eyes, so get your photographs out there. Some examples include photographs of catering jobs, residential/patient food trays and retail plates. Also, make sure to include photographs of people enjoying your facility’s food options. Including people (with permission) is a great way to give a personable angle to your food photo.
2. Loyalty Programs
Consider using a loyalty program for your foodservice business. Partner up with online food apps, which encourage visitors to check out your venue through gamification and loyalty programs. These loyalty programs offer visitors a free purchase or discount for visiting a certain number of times or types of food items. Some popular loyalty programs include Belly, LevelUp and Loyal Bucks. If you’re looking for a less expensive loyalty program, your facility can set up one yourself. Check your day parts and see where you want to increase revenue and volumes. You can create a system like a punch card to encourage your patrons to purchase in areas or certain times where you’d like increase revenue. For instance, you can set up a “Breakfast Club” loyalty program if you’d like to increase revenue during the morning. Patrons will receive a punch for each time they purchase breakfast at your facility, and on their 10th visit they will receive a free breakfast or a discount.
Whether you’re a fan of Yelp or not, your customers are definitely using it. Contrary to popular belief, Yelp isn’t only about restaurants. Many reviews are out there about prisons, hospitals, senior living facilities, service businesses and more. Even if your foodservice facility hasn’t set up a Yelp account, customers can and will review you on this platform. Make sure you take ownership of your Yelp page and start adding as much information as possible (ex: operating hours, menus, price range, photographs, Wi-Fi, parking, location, etc.). You can also respond to people’s reviews of your foodservice facility. Use it do service recovery too. Another great tip is that you can partner up with Yelp to better market your foodservice business.
Yelp is also a key to money making. Your foodservice business can receive up to five stars on Yelp, and these stars are important! A study by Michael Luca, a professor at Harvard Business School, found that there was a correlation between a high Yelp ranking and revenues. Each star on a Yelp review leads to a 5-9% jump in revenues. This is why it’s important for your foodservice facility to take ownership of the Yelp page and respond to reviews.
4. Social Media
When used consistently, social media is the perfect tool for marketing and promoting your foodservice business online. According to the PewResearchCenter, as of January 2014, 74% of online adults use social networking sites (Source: http://www.pewinternet.org/fact-sheets/social-networking-fact-sheet/). Word of mouth referrals and traditional means of advertising are still important, but social media is becoming increasingly important. Plus, it’s free to sign up on most major outlets like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. This free access allows you to build a following, spread the word about your foodservice on a regular basis, interact with your customer base, engage with fellow foodservice peers and even keep tabs on competitors. Remember those food photos we talked about earlier? You’ll definitely want to use those across all social media outlets.
Using a blog to brand your foodservice facility is a smart thing to do. Another perk: it’s totally free! All you have to do is sign up for a blogging service and get started. Blogs do require a little bit of time, however, you can dedicate blogging to someone on your foodservice staff. Blogs are a great way for your foodservice facility to promote what’s going on at your dining operations, disseminate engaging news and more. Plus, you can share your blog posts on social media platforms, email services and more. Check out this list of 15 popular blogging publisher platforms that your foodservice facility can use.
6. Email Marketing
Smartphones allow us to have the world at our fingertips. With 45% of email opens occur on a mobile device, email marketing has become increasingly important (Source: Email Monday). It’s important to create meaningful and engaging emails, otherwise your patrons will view emails as extra “noise” in their inbox. Keep a database of email addresses and organize them into groups. Your lists can include sections like patrons, patient family members, employees, students and more. These email marketing services enable you to create specific marketing for each segment of your audience and spread news about your foodservice facility. For example, you can send out an email to patient family members reminding them about an upcoming holiday dinner that your foodservice facility is hosting. There are many popular email services that are often free or inexpensive to use. Some examples of popular services include MailChimp and Constant Contact.