Written by Sam Yadegar on Aug 15 , 2022

Avoid these missteps to keep your food & beverage brand’s marketing on track.

Here you’ll learn:

  • F&B marketing tactics you shouldn’t ignore
  • Tips for spending your marketing budget wisely
  • Expert advice for creating organic social posts
  • Ways to leverage user-generated content (UGC)

In some ways, food and beverage (F&B) brands have it made when it comes to advertising.

These businesses often have eye-catching products, a fun brand voice, and a large target audience to boot. (After all, pretty much everyone eats and drinks, right?)

But, of course, with great power comes great responsibility.

We’ve seen plenty of brands in this industry make a misstep, go too far, or simply hit the wrong note with their ads. The result: backlash, a bruised reputation, and the added challenge of building trust back up.

Luckily, if you know about the most common pitfalls, you can work to actively avoid them. We’ve laid out the top missteps we see below.

Red curry for F&B marketing

When it comes to F&B marketing, user-generated content (UGC) is gold. (Image: Rawpixel)

1. Underestimating local SEO

More than 90% of consumers simply won’t visit a restaurant that’s more than an hour away (unsurprising, since no one likes getting “hangry”).

Since your target audience is mostly locals (if you have a brick-and-mortar operation), using local SEO is non-negotiable. While local SEO includes a variety of tactics, the main one is listing your restaurant in relevant directories.

To start, it’s wise to review or create your Google Business Profile. A thorough, optimized profile should have:

  • A link to your menu
  • Accurate NAP info (name, address, phone number)
  • High-quality photos
  • Bonus points for an FAQ section and posts (such as announcements or other company-related updates)

Local SEO doesn’t steal a big chunk of your marketing budget, but it does take time to implement properly, especially at the beginning. The earlier you start putting these practices into action, the better you can target your local audience.

Pro tip: Other directories to consider listing your restaurant include Yelp, TripAdvisor, Yellow pages, Zomato, and Allmenus.

2. Ignoring the benefits of UGC

When it comes to F&B marketing, user-generated content (UGC) is gold. 

Today, 90% of consumers reportedly trust UGC more than promotional emails or search results. Of course, soliciting this type of content can be tough, especially for smaller businesses. But with a few strategic moves, it’s certainly possible.

Implementing UGC is an effective marketing tactic because it falls under the persuasive concept of social proof. Here are a few ways to source this type of content:

  • Simply request customers tag you in their content
  • Search for existing content by hashtags and location on social platforms
  • Offer something in exchange such as entry to win a gift card or freebie

Another way to garner UGC is to leverage influencer marketing. Partnering with an industry influencer can be a cost-effective way to quickly (and successfully) grow your reach.

Pro tip: Though they have smaller followings, micro-influencers are often more affordable. Not only that, but most have higher overall engagement than those with followers in the millions.

3. Ignoring audience segments

It can be difficult when you want to target a large audience but also seek out those who are most likely to buy your product or visit your location, particularly for F&B brands.

If your marketing campaign focuses on a too-narrow segment of your target audience, you could be losing revenue.

For example, if you run a romantic, candlelit Italian spot and your main audience is couples, your content and ads understandably revolve around them. However, you could be losing out on attracting families or office workers who are also looking for what you offer.

Reviewing the needs of your target audience and creating new segments is key to successful F&B marketing.

restaurant interior

Lean into the visual elements to help your brand and offerings really shine. (Image: Unsplash)

4. Overlooking user intent

When it comes to paid search advertising, straightforward keywords are no longer the pillar of the entire strategy. You need to pay attention to user intent as well.

Google algorithms analyze the searcher’s intent to come up with a list of relevant websites. You can conduct keyword research and arrange your content to make your website more appealing to these algorithms.

It may not be as useful to implement keywords like “best seafood restaurant near me” into your content, for example. To cater to the user’s intent, you would need to create a blog or article about seafood restaurants and mention location information on the same page.

With time, Google algorithms are likely to become more complex, making it much harder to achieve results with keyword integration alone. That’s why it’s important to implement intent-oriented tactics into your strategy today.

We know it can be tough to grow your brand recognition, especially in the competitive, saturated F&B market. We’ve helped brands like Mighty Leaf Tea and Midwest Sea Salt do this through identifying unique selling points and restructuring paid search accounts to capitalize on peak searches, resulting in improved conversion rates, visitors spending more time on site, and higher ROI.

5. Making visuals an afterthought

Food & beverage brands are visual by nature. Think about some of the biggest names and how they use elements like a sweating beer can that looks ice cold, or a warm, steaming plate of delicious dinner fare. 

(In fact, I challenge you to see a slow-mo video of someone cutting into a chocolate lava cake and not immediately crave the sweet treat.)

You can hire a professional photographer or opt to take your own high-quality smartphone photos of your interior, dishes, and drinks, or create a fun video featuring your team for social media. Whichever option you choose, lean into the visual elements to help your brand and offerings really shine.

6. Not staying on top of your offsite digital footprint

One way to annoy potential customers right off the bat? Have outdated or false information swirling around on the web with your business name attached.

Whether it’s an old address, outdated menu, or a broken website link, make it a habit to regularly check the accuracy of your online presence both on and off your company’s actual website. This can include places like:

The takeaway

Just like in any other industry, F&B has its fair share of both benefits and potential drawbacks when it comes to marketing strategies.

The good news: by focusing on local SEO tactics, high-quality visuals, UGC, and a smart approach to paid advertising, it’s possible to stay ahead of the competition.

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar is the co-founder and CEO of HawkSEM. Starting out as a software engineer, his penchant for solving problems quickly led him to the digital marketing world, where he has been helping clients for over 12 years. He loves doing everything he can to help brands "crush it" through ROI-driven digital marketing programs. He's also a fan of basketball and spending time with his family.

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