A confluence of channels plus hidden terrain makes it critical to properly map out your race for brand relevance in the long run.
Scale of reach for foodservice brands is broader than ever. At the same time, the ability to narrowly target with digital tactics is so much more accessible.
Converging for more complication is the sheer mass of channels through which we can – or, more accurately, try to – communicate through to reach our targeted foodservice buyers. Industry journals, social media, culinary inspiration centers, trade publications, sales reps … and so on.
Preparing an insightful experience plan that prioritizes the right mix of channel communications can feel impossible because the foodservice buyer journey can be so convoluted. And as much as we’d like it to be, it’s not a linear journey.
It’s like lining up at the beginning of a marathon and being handed a blank map, with only the finish line marked and no other direction provided. You’re faced with creating a build-your-own experience right on the spot – one that must precisely fit the 26.2-mile stretch with its unique twists and turns. No marathoner wants to face unknown obstacles or lengthen the course unnecessarily … yet that’s the risk of racing for foodservice brand relevance on uncharted terrain. Much better to know what you’re getting into and exactly how you’ll navigate.
Client conversation after client conversation, we hear the same sources of anxiety: How do I connect directly to my buyer? How do I know which channels to focus on? How do I fight for brand relevance in a saturated market? How do I know if any of this is working?
Well, first things first. With the blank map in-hand, it helps to start with a diagnostic.
Of course it’s best practice to start with your objective. What are you trying to achieve? Case sales? Volume growth? Higher awareness levels in an under-indexed market?
From there, you might assess your brand system. How are you showing up? Are your brands valuable and meaningful to an operator? Do they have scalable design systems? Are they structured to support business growth for your customer or are they just playing an errant role in your portfolio?
Next is fully unpacking buyer insights – or asking yourself if you even have useful insights – so you can understand how to communicate and craft highly targeted messaging.
Now you’re getting somewhere. Here you explore the high-level paid, earned, shared, and owned opportunities, be it a lead-gen advertising campaign or content strategy or otherwise.
Now onto assessing your abilities to activate. Are you avoiding the pitfalls of the set-and-forget? Foodservice buyer journeys don’t start and stop with one campaign. Again, they’re non-linear. They’re lasting. So how are you making sure your efforts don’t find dead ends before they’ve even gotten you somewhere?
With activation underway, how are you attributing success? Are you considering your CRM platform and all the data points that can help tell you the right story? Do you even have a CRM platform you can use to collect meaningful data?
How will you continue learning and optimizing? What resources do you need to ensure lasting relevance for your foodservice brand?