This article has been updated and was originally published in October 2021.
These marketing strategies can help your F&B brand power through industry ups and downs.
Here, you’ll find:
- How to gauge the status of your F&B marketing
- Tips for using content to grow your reach
- Creative ways to partner for growth
- Expert advice for marketing your food and beverage brand
Let’s be real: the last couple of years have been a doozy for the food and beverage (F&B) industry.
Some beloved eateries pivoted to curbside pickup and online ordering. Others didn’t survive, despite working to accommodate ever-changing rules and precaution measures.
Those that did know it’s going to take creativity and outside-the-box thinking to keep succeeding. That’s where a strategic marketing plan comes in.
Pull up a chair. Let’s get down to business when it comes to keeping your F&B business afloat in 2022 and beyond.
1. Audit your online presence
Before you can optimize your F&B marketing, you need to know where you stand. For that, it helps to conduct an audit.
An SEM audit can give you a bird’s eye view of your current online presence, including:
- How you look on the search engine results page (SERP)
- What keywords you’re ranking for
- Any outdated information floating around online
- How you’re stacking up against competitors
This is also a great opportunity to check that your Google Business Profile is claimed, thoroughly completed, and accurate when it comes to things like your location and hours.
2. Build out your website
For the food and beverage industry, you can’t underestimate the importance of a well-designed website that keeps your target audience top of mind.
That means not getting too in the weeds when it comes to the aesthetics of the site or sacrificing content. You don’t want to dive into a ‘brand image’ that overpowers the actual offering or service.
An overly styled site that doesn’t include the main core informational pieces people go to your site for — such as menus or contact info — is doing your company a disservice.
Remember, search engine optimization (SEO) is what’s going to help drive people to your site. Without the proper parameters in place, your stylish site won’t be doing its job.
Among other elements, an effective F&B website should have:
- Menus (if you’re a restaurant or bar)
- Recipes (if you’re a food or beverage company)
- Contact information
- Visuals that illustrate the products or services
One of Google’s main goals is to serve up pages that provide the information people are searching for. As a result, this gives preference to SEO strategy and creating this type of valued content.
For example, Google has figured out that people searching for “apple” are looking for Apple-brand products most of the time, not the fruit.
In the same way, the search engine tries to show people what they want from food and beverage brands, such as menus, hours of operation, reservations, and nutritional facts, as opposed to a “clean” webpage lacking information.
3. Focus on visuals
Speaking of visuals, the food and beverage industry heavily benefits from the use of eye-catching imagery online.
Approximately 46% of people in the U.S. either browse pictures of food or watch food videos on social media each month, according to audience targeting company GWI.
As such, this industry generally isn’t as focused on things like pillar page content. Rather, it’s more about capturing people and traffic, creating sales-based content, and trying to show up for searches.
4. Tackle local SEO
When you’re looking to increase conversion rates and traffic, as most F&B brands are, factoring in local SEO is key.
Local SEO uses regional factors to rank higher in search results to better target local audiences. Not only does this help when searchers are using location-based queries, but it also targets more bottom-funnel consumers.
Make sure your local SEO is optimized by:
- Regularly checking your Google Business Profile for accuracy
- Creating content with local search results in mind
- Targeting rich or featured snippet placement
- Having location and keywords metadata and geotagging local images
Pro tip: While regional targeting is important, don’t make the mistake of overly narrowing your audience. Just because you think only millennials are interested in your products doesn’t mean you shouldn’t at least try to appeal to Boomers and Gen Z as well.
5. Pay attention to reviews
The data is clear: Online reviews matter — a lot. In a recent survey, 76% of polled consumers said online reviews are ‘important’ or ‘very important’ when deciding whether to try a local F&B business.
You obviously want to know what people are saying about your business online. Whether the feedback is positive or negative, do what you can to respond to people who take the time to review your company.
Thanking someone for a positive review makes them feel heard, while responding professionally to a negative review (and explaining or offering to discuss and resolve the issue offline) shows others that you’re paying attention and prioritizing customer experience.
Need more help with your F&B marketing? We’d love to chat.
6. Explore a variety of ad placements
Your budget, audience, and goals are often the main factors for your marketing decisions. With that in mind, it’s a good idea to see if there’s room to experiment with new areas of ad placement you may not currently be using.
From paid search and display ads to social media and sites like YouTube, a broad audience means you have a wealth of options when it comes to your digital marketing.
Instead of putting all of your proverbial eggs in one basket, try a few different channels, monitor performance, then modify from there.
7. Get creative with content
Blogs aren’t the only content game in town. One of the benefits of working with food and beverage brands is the opportunity to have fun with your branding and marketing. After all, the mission of most of these companies is to bring people together at the table (or the bar), right?
Along with blogging, you can explore other options like collaborating and influencer marketing. Leveraging industry influencers on social media might be just what you need to get the word out about what you offer without blowing your budget.
You can also consider partnering up with a similar, non-competing brand in your space for a limited-edition item or a fun event.
8. Keep sustainability in mind
Statistics show consumers are increasingly hungry for change.
They’re beginning to understand the consequences that human activity is having on the environment — especially when it comes to food.
People’s passion for eating more organic, locally and ethically sourced, less processed, and more sustainable foods isn’t likely to go anywhere, and they want brands to step up and take responsibility for their environmental impact.
These days, customers are looking to support brands that take that message to heart and share their values.
Food transparency is a growing trend, with 81% of consumers saying it’s important to them in 2020 — an 11% spike from only two years earlier. Plant-based foods saw a 29% two-year increase in the year prior.
This is a huge opportunity for brands, stores, and restaurants selling plant-based food. Almost a third (30%) of consumers reportedly want to make their diets more plant-based, and more people are growing accustomed to the idea of plant-based meats.
Review your offerings to see how you can incorporate local farms or vendors and plant-based items — we predict you’ll see positive results.
Food and beverage marketers have had to be extra agile and flexible over the past few years.
Now, as the industry slowly returns to some degree of what it was pre-pandemic, those creative strategies can still serve you well for years to come.
Keep the above strategies in mind for 2022 and beyond to keep your business surviving and thriving, no matter what the future holds. Cheers to that!