How To Grow Your Catering Business
To help you develop your marketing strategy for your catering business, I'm going to present a real world case study featuring Cheron Burns, owner of Rx Catering.
The digital marketing strategies that Park Road Studios developed for Rx Catering are strategies that you can use to grow your catering business.
Make Time To Develop Marketing Ideas
It starts by recognizing that in order to grow your catering business, you have to do more than just cook.
You have to work on your business and not just in it, as Michael Gerber teaches in The E-Myth.
To facilitate working on her business, Cheron agreed to institute a weekly business development day.
We were then able to use that weekly business development day to adapt Rx Catering to be successful during the pandemic.
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This case study begins in 2020, during the throes of the pandemic when there was no vaccine and no timeline for one being created.
Using YouTube To Grow Your Catering Business
YouTube was a foundational component of the Rx Catering marketing strategy that Park Road Studios developed.
Cooking shows are always popular and Cheron had the talent and personality to be a fantastic cooking show host, so creating a cooking show for her as a digital marketing tool was an easy choice.
Creating a cooking show meant YouTube was the smart, easy choice. But it's a smart, easy choice that a lot of people somehow overlook.
Many people who have the talent and desire to have their own show (cooking show, talk show...whatever kind of show) make the mistake of thinking that having a show means being on network or cable TV.
To do that means getting into an infinitely long line of people who are auditioning for a precious few slots.
To create your own show on YouTube, all you have to do is start uploading.
YouTube has billions of users around the world. And many people spend more time watching YouTube shows from their favorite creators than they do watching regular TV shows.
So the notion that having your own show means going through the traditional television bureaucracy is false.
If you want to have your own show, you can get started today on YouTube, just like Issa Rae and Morgan Cooper (Bel Air) did...and Cheron.
[RELATED ARTICLE: Video Marketing Ideas For Your Business]
Developing Your Digital Marketing Strategy for Your Catering Business
Developing a successful digital marketing strategy is about more than just uploading videos to YouTube (or whatever social media platform you choose).
Many small business owners make the mistake of putting in the effort to build a social media following that they then struggle to monetize.
Building your list of email subscribers is a much more profitable activity than building a social media following because email marketing has a 40X return on investment compared to social media marketing.
There are a number of reasons for that, including:
- There's no algorithm in the way. You get to put yourself directly into your subscriber's inbox and they don't have to be logged in at a particular time in order to see your message.
- Email subscribers are more likely to buy from you than social media followers.
- It costs you essentially no time and effort to create one weekly email that you know your subscribers will see.
For those reasons and more, the digital marketing strategy we went with for Rx Catering was to use YouTube as the platform for hosting Cheron's cooking show, but using a blog published weekly via email to publish the show.
Cheron's call to action is not "subscribe to my YouTube channel," it's "subscribe to my email list" because with a blog and an email list, Cheron owns the relationship with her audience.
With social media, you do not own the relationship with your followers and the platform can change the rules on you at any time and there's nothing you can do about it.
So when developing your content marketing strategy for your catering company, don't overlook all the benefits of email marketing to make sure you get the maximum return on your marketing efforts..
Building Your Catering Business Website
After assessing the Rx Catering needs and surveying the market for turnkey website solutions, I determined that Rx Catering would need two websites:
The need for two websites came from following a couple of guidelines that it's generally a good idea to follow:
- Don't reinvent the wheel
- Use the right tool for the job
There are a variety of turnkey website solutions that are purpose-built for the catering industry.
Those platforms are very good at being the online "back of the house" for your catering company and it makes way more sense to pay for one of those platforms than it does to try to build all that functionality from scratch yourself.
The catering business platform we went with includes built-in support for leaving a tip, for example.
Just by virtue of there being an option to leave a tip, people started leaving tips without even being prompted to do so! That was a pleasantly unexpected increase in revenue generated by the new website platform.
But, depending on your needs, those catering website platforms may not be suitable as your "front of the house."
For Rx Catering and the extensive video marketing strategy we're implementing, the catering website platform was not the right tool for the job.
If you'd like to see an audit of Cheron's original website, you can check that out here:
How To Make Your Catering Business Profitable
There are only three ways to grow any business:
- Acquire new customers
- Increase your pricing
- Generate additional transactions with existing customers
With Rx Catering, we implemented the "acquire new customers" and "generate additional transactions" strategies.
We're heavily leveraging video marketing and email marketing to build awareness about Rx Catering to attract new clients.
We've also worked with Rx Catering to institute additional revenue streams (AKA additional transaction opportunities) including:
- Individual and family meal prep services.
- Self-service gift cards. Get paid today for services to be delivered in the future.
- Digital cookbook / membership community. Recurring revenue via the subscription model.
- Paid cooking demos. No more free live demos.
Adapt To Your Customers' Needs
The additional revenue streams we've implemented represent additional solutions to address customers' current needs.
Pre-pandemic, Rx Catering specialized in catering large events. Obviously, that all went away when the pandemic happened.
But a need for meal prep services was created because stressed-out heads of households needed help feeding their families.
And gift cards provide a way for friends and family to send some meal prep love to someone they care about.
Solve problems, make money.
Running a successful business is about staying in tune with the needs of your existing clients and developing solutions to meet those needs, even if that means adapting significantly...the way food businesses have had to do because of the pandemic.
Digital Cookbook / Membership Community
This is where Cheron has an opportunity to use her expertise to generate a significant additional income stream.
Online education is projected to be a $300 billion industry by 2025. And Cheron's digital cookbook / membership community is how she will get her piece of that pie.
You have the same opportunity.
If you know how to cook, you know how to teach people how to cook.
We live in a time where it's very easy to get paid to teach what you know and that's something you can incorporate into your revenue strategy for your catering company.
[RELATED ARTICLE: How To Create A Recurring Revenue Business]
Leverage Technology to Reduce Costs and Increase Sales
The image above is the refrigerator magnet that we developed for Rx Catering to provide to customers instead of the printed menus they currently provide.
The fridge magnets both reduce costs and increase the average order amount because the printed menu didn't have photos of most of the dishes available.
And when placed on a refrigerator in an office environment, they work much better than a standard business card as a way to reach a new potential client.
The Rx Catering website has photos of every dish, which gets customers ordering with their eyes and placing larger orders.
Additionally, the convenience of a refrigerator magnet (both in home and office environments) keeps the menu in a convenient place, which makes ordering easy.
To be successful with your catering business, you're going to have to incorporate a business development day into your business plan because you can't spend all your time standing in front of the oven, servicing your existing customers.
To grow your catering business, you have to commit time to the business development activities that will keep you on the radar of your target audience and bring you new customers.
You're going to have to develop your catering marketing strategy because no business grows without a solid marketing plan.
And you're going to have to do video marketing, in particular, because it's 2022 and video was 80% of internet traffic before the pandemic.
You have to get comfortable standing in front of a camera and speaking about your business. And if you're ready for your own cooking show, all you need is YouTube to get started.
How in the world are you going to do all this?
Not by yourself, that's for sure.
Get marketing support.
Build your team because you can't do all of this by yourself.
You can start get started today with my Cooking All The Way To The Bank course where you'll learn everything you need to start your cooking show.
And you don't need a commercial kitchen!
As you'll see in the video below, you can produce your cooking show from your home!
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