Guide on how to grow your catering business online

March 9, 2021 in Grow your business online

A platter full of food representing a catering service

We all enjoy the outcome of a good catering service and appreciate the pains taken to deliver nothing short of perfection. Behind the scenes of a conventional catering service, there are ever-existing stresses of time management, client satisfaction, market analysis and more. As an owner or operator of a catering service, how often has one thought to make a digital presence? If so, how effective and how efficient has the endeavour been? With the onset of Covid-19, it has become of at most importance to establish a strong digital presence.

Get started with a digital presence for a catering service

The standard avenues to create an online presence to broden your catering services presence are,

  • Social Media
  • Website
  • Google Business Solutions.
  • Website Listings

Social Media

A phone displaying social media icons.

The usage of social media has boomed in the past decade and its patronage is steadily rising. According to BACKLINKO, 63% of eligible people above age 13 are on at least an average of 8.6 social media platforms. As a catering service making the digital switch and tapping into this market is a huge potential. This will give your business a much-needed push. Nearly all influential businesses in the food industry have a big social media presence. To begin with, pick three platforms that are most suitable as it would be ample to create a strong digital presence.

Without second thoughts the top three digital platforms for a catering service to target would be the giants,

Facebook

  • Create a brand page.
  • Add an attractive profile picture and cover picture.
  • Follow other prominent businesses and pages that impact the local food industry.
  • Create relevant posts and videos to advertise the innovations in your menu.
  • Invite friends and family initially.

As a catering service, Facebook would ideally be the best place to start marketing. You can create a brand page that showcases the business. Start a campaign with ad sets and ads with their performance monitored. The ads can range from announcing your digital presence to highlighting unique cuisines offered.

The best part is you can set the ad up such that, it targets only a certain regional area and a certain age group. We recommend setting the age filter above 24 to target those who are financially capable of hiring your catering service. Many other filters can be applied, to reach the niche target audience. This level of precision maximizes your reach to high potential customers which make Facebook cost-efficient.

The ads can revolve around the foods provided, new trends that captivate foodies, quick at-home recipes, foodie memes. There is a higher chance to catch the customers attention if the posts are funny and witty. check out Mini Punjab’s Facebook page to get insights into how a page is created. They are one of the best catering services in Mumbai featured by Vogue magazine in 2019.

Instagram

  • Optimize your bio
  • Use hashtag
  • User-generated content (UGC)
  • Video ads
  • Constant new updates (use calendar)

Instagram is another app with many users and would be a good place to market a catering company. Make a catchy bio, tell them about your best dishes and your journey to make it this far into the food industry, as this is what viewers would see first. Add links to your website of other places where you want to drive traffic towards. Generate a hashtag that defines your brand and ensure to have it in the bio. Use other trending food, foodie, food photography hashtags that are trending. Some good hashtags are:

  • #cateringservice
  • #weddingplanners
  • #weddingcatering
  • #gourmetcatering
  • #foodoftheday
  • #(business name)caterers

User-generated content is where the user creates videos, text, images and reviews about a brand rather than the brand. If you can make an impression on your customers and ask them to talk about the food, service, hospitality, and cleanliness of your business it will have a wider reach.

Videos ads are very popular with Instagram. The three formats are single video ads, carousel ads and Instagram stories. Don’t dismiss it just yet, making videos is very easy as many tools are provided by the app. Furthermore, a few short tutorials online will get you going. To begin with, just basic clips displaying the variety of cuisines shot on a phone will do the trick. The videos can be a quick 60s recipe roll, helpful hacks in the kitchen, how to be creative with leftovers, nutrition balanced dishes and more.

In the case of a long video, use IGTV. Here you can post longer videos without a time limit. Your followers will have access to your content without it getting it lost in the sea of content.

Snapchat

  • Snapchat predominantly uses Videos and pictures
  • Collaborate with friends and influencers
  • Increase following for a larger reach 

Snapchat is one of the easiest platforms to create ads. The ability to target a niche audience is phenomenal. Snapchat takes targeting audiences to the next level by providing the option to apply location filters, such as a set radius around particular restaurants at a selected time.

 By doing so you have the power to target the right audience at the right time creating much more impactful ads. Not to mention, a mouth-watering ad when a person is hungry would make the biggest impact in creating a long-lasting memory. The next time that person is in search of a catering service chances are you will be remembered because of smart marketing.

Personally, we feel this is a powerful platform to target foodies. This is because the whole app revolves around pictures, a well-presented dish will reel in foodies and food photographers. With their reviews and posts, the word of a good catering service will spread in no time as Snapchat has a high social circle interaction. Collaborate with regional food influencers and trendsetters to promote the business.

Other Avenues

Additionally, YouTube would add a lot of value if you can make innovative and catchy short videos. Use these videos that pertain to the catering service to promote on other digital platforms as well. 

If you need help with social media marketing or have questions to be clarified, we at Workik are happy to help. We assist with social media marketing and are happy to be of service.

While creating campaigns or extending the awareness of your service keeps in mind the buyers’ persona. That is who your ideal target audience is, what are their behavioural patterns, what do they respond best to, which aspect of them are you willing to appeal towards. By answering these questions you can create a foolproof reach and increase your client conversion rate.

Website

A Website displayed on a laptop

Have you thought of creating a personalized website as a digital presence for your catering service? Most of us dismiss this thought because the perception of it being expensive and luxury still exists. This is where we go wrong! Websites create a unique brand identity and provide value to your business. It creates a strong impression by building trust and authenticity. Therefore, making it one of the very few places where detailed information about your catering service exists.

To increase traffic to your website, consider hosting live cooking classes, quick-cooking hacks and tips, best combinations of multiple course meals and event such as fundraisers, and exclusive food coupons that are only available on the website.

Workik is a service where you get to build your website with ample technical assistance and support without the requirement of coding. If you are not comfortable building on your own, don’t you worry Workik does it all for you, just sit back and relax! The team also provides other essential services such as SEO, SEM, digital marketing, site maintenance, expert advice and much more. Contact us today to know more and watch your catering service go digital in no time.

The website should include 

  1. Testimonials by customers to build trust
  2. Detailed information on the service options provided
  3. Image gallery to highlight events and delicacy
  4. Menu portraying the cuisines
  5. An attractive landing page
  6. A contact and about us page
  7. Breadcrumbs for easy navigation (if necessary)
  8. A few blogs that genuinely helps the visitors

With Workik you could hire a website, yes you read it right! You can hire a website for as little as $10/ Rs 700 a month which includes all basic features such as security, custom build UI and UX, technical assistance and more. Additionally, compatible templates and an easy building interface is provided. Check out our pricing page or contact us to know more.

Google

A device displaying Google home page

Google besides being a search engine is much more. There are five key services (Google Business solutions) you must utilize at the very least to further the catering services reach.

Google Business Solutions

Google Business Solutions is one of the best and easy ways to enhance your SEO and SEM by utilizing the tools provided within its services. Multiple tools are provided that prove very helpful in creating a strong digital presence. let’s look at these tools in depth.

Google My Business
Google My Business for a good catering service displayed digitally

Google My Business is free, it’s where you can engage with your customers on Google with the help of reviews, ratings,  bookings and providing other important details about your business because it creates a brand front. Ensure to have attractive food images, and cuisine centric reviews to capture the viewer’s attention.

If anyone looks for catering services in or around your geographic area, your business would pop up. The interactive result that shows reviews, images of your food uploaded and, a brief description of your service is due to Google My Business.

Google Forms
Google Forms landing page

Google Forms is a potent online surveying tool. If you want to expand your business or get more customers and are not sure what needs to be done this is your lifeline. With the help of Google Forms obtain answers to “which cuisine do you prefer”, “how much are you willing to spend on catering services”, “other factors that influence your decision while selecting a suitable catering company”. With the help of a well-tailored questionnaire, you can target the right audience. This will help you steer your business in the right direction by adapting to the crowd’s needs.

Google Maps
Google Maps for a digital catering service.

By listing on Google Maps your business can be located and viewed in a certain geographic area. Imagine a voice search asking for “catering services near me” and your service popping up.

Google Ads
Google Ads landing page

Google Ads helps you target your niche audience based on the filters you apply with the help of a buyers persona. Target your ads on blog, websites and other services that revolve around food, this will increase the chances of the ad being clicked. By doing so, the investment is channelized and targets only potential clients giving the most returns for your money. It also has a higher return on investment in comparison to conventional marketing means. This ensures the digital presence of the catering service has maximum reach. Moreover, by using the right keywords you are sure to get the right customer.

Keywords such as the ones listed below can be used

  • Top catering services
  • Caterers near me
  • Hire a catering company
  • Best catering service in (location)
  • Budget catering business
Google Analytics
Google Analytics

With the help of Google Analytics, a lot of data can be unravelled. Visitor information such as age, gender, location, interests, devices used, and more. With the help of bounce rate, session duration and website activity data content can be tailored to optimize the page and grab visitor’s attention simultaneously. This will help better your social media posts by providing impactful content and if advertised targeting the right audience is easy.

Google Workspace
Google Workspace landing page

Google Workspace is nearly entirely free. Make use of it to handle and communicate with leads, clients and the internal workforce in a professional manner. Additionally, you can set up a digital reminder and assist you with your daily tasks. Ensuring you are never late or never miss a deadline again.

If you need assistance with setting up or executing with Google business solution, we at Workik can always be of assistance.

Other Search Engines

Although Google is accountable for about 70% of the searches online, do consider search engines such as Bing to target another group audience. other search engines have their own tools to assist in making a digital impact with them.

Website listings for digital accountability

Website listings are powerful tools to create brand awareness, attract more targeted business, and a quick way to boost your online presence. It also enhances your brand reputation and engagement. The more website listing you have the higher is the backlink to your website created. Backlinks are nothing but places where your website’s existence is authenticated. This helps the search engine verify your service and give it a higher ranking. All this translates to your service and its information popping up at the top search eventually.

Business.com provides a list of 48 legitimate websites where free listings are possible, most of the listings are not location-specific. Some listings are useful for USA based companies. If you are based in India, services like Justdial and Indiamart will prove helpful.

Analysis of the elements in a catering business.

Tools representing catering business elements

let’s analyse the cogs that make the business run before we get into making a strong, full-fledged digital presence. In the catering business, the must-haves are 

  1. a handy planning tool to organize
    • Workforce
    • Client requests
    • Event dates
    • Transport
    • Invoice tracking
    •  Pending payments
  1. A marketing team
  2. Adequate flexible workforce
  3. Private transport or logistics hire
  4. Inventory management
  5. Perishable material handling and storage
  6. Inflammable material handling and storage
  7. Foodservice and clean up 
  8. Customer review and comments 

Digital Transition

A lot of the functions of a catering service can be switched online creating a digital presence. By doing so, time, energy, and costs can be optimized.

Planning Tool

Google Planner is a good planning tool as it tracks and reminds important dates, events, meetings, and deadlines across multiple devices. Therefore, data can be shared with the working staff and bridge existing communication issues. You can also plan stocktake, food supply, and manage your inventory.

Invoice Generator

Zoho is a good invoice generator that can help automate invoices and remind clients of pending payments. This relieves you of the most common financial stress of keeping track of payments.

Marketing going digital (Social Media Marketing)

Social Media Marketing

Conventionally marketing is a cumbersome task involving hiring multiple personnel going door to door, or newspaper/ radio ads so on. Now, with the help of digitization, most of these needs are satisfied with minimum effort. Additionally, with the help of digital marketing, you can track where and how the budget is spent that tailors the return on investment (ROI) up to five times if done right! Check this link out to read a few real-life stories.

There are two main types of digital marketing to help grow the catering service, one is to bring a new follower and the other is to engage with the existing followers. Remember to strike a good balance between the two.

Digital marketing also helps broaden your catering reach. You could make ties with other catering services that have other products. For example, if someone is known for their pastries and you haven’t ventured out into pastries, collaborate with them and add pastries to your menu. 

By creating strong B2B tie-ups you can enhance your chances of getting a larger client base. Social media can be a good place to find potential candidates for creating the perfect deals.

Other Effective Digital Marketing For Your Catering Service

The other ways to market your service is by incorporating the previously mentioned strategies. Those are creating a catering website, utilizing Google Business Solutions, social media marketing and website listings. We at Workik have the expertise to assist you with any of these strategies. Visit our contact us page.

Customer review and comments 

The best means to create a brand is to have testimonials, genuine reviews and rating. This brings about trust in the brand and provides authenticity. A cumulative effect of social media presence, website, SEO, Google business solutions and offline marketing will make your catering service a brand to remember.

Always ask your customer about their experience and how to better your services. Do ask them to express these digitally where others can view them. This will gradually build a portfolio and make your catering service reputable and eventually a digital brand.

Digital Funnel

The digital funnel is much similar to conventional marketing funnel but has more layers. It’s advised to know the ins and outs of a digital funnel to be aware of a particular person’s situation and strategically assist them in becoming your customer.

Digital funnel infographics

Let’s look at it in more depth.

Viewers and visitors

The first step is it create awareness digitally. Create food relevant ads, use social media and branch out with your catering posts, memes and videos. Hold contests, fundraisers and charity events to enhance awareness. Viewers and visitors are obtained by creating the most number of impressions and reach in any given avenue. There are two means to generate traffic, organic or inorganic means.

 Undertake Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to organically create awareness. This can be with the help of social media, website, blog pages, and listings. The more views theses avenues have the closer will you be to viewing on the search engines first search page. SEO does not involve spending money to boost and promote your catering business.

Inorganic means (Search Engine marketing – SEM) are where you spend money on ads, promotions, and contests. A higher number of views are acquired much faster inorganically. This boosts your various avenues to show up on the first page of the search engines. We have noticed, recipe contests are a crowd favourite.

Followers and fans

It is best to select a few platforms that are most relevant to the business and work on them, rather than jumping into nearly all popular platforms. By doing so, you will save precious time, money and efforts. The more viewers and visitors generated, the higher the possibility to create followers and fans. As more and more food and cooking centric posts that add value are seen by people, they would want to see more of it. Hence, it creates a following. Most businesses opt for inorganic traffic because it is a quick way.

The ability to create followers lie in the marketing material. If the material can spark the interest of the viewer and the viewer is happy to receive similar material, he/she subscribes and will become a follower. This is the second section of the funnel where ideally about 20% of the viewers become followers. 

Interest

Now that you have received followers on one particular platform, they would want to explore more about the service provided and would research it on other platforms and avenues as well. The presence of a website and other alternate sources (platforms) of authentic information will prove useful. Make sure you create similar food-centric posts on other platforms as well. By doing so, the consistency of your product is maintained.

After exploring other avenues, if a positive impression is made, and the service provided satisfies the follower’s needs, a lead is generated. To generate a lead the service offered should have competitive pricing, attractive offers, perks and good customer service. 

Lead

The lead then contacts you to get further information about your catering service, such as, who you are, and what do you do best. When all the queries are successfully satisfied they become a prospect and ultimately a customer when the service is availed. (keywords, pricing per plate)

Customer

We have almost reached the end of the funnel. The customer if satisfied, will become a repeat customer. This can be achieved by providing delicious food, maintaining hygiene and courtesy, and delivering set dishes on time.

They would also be happy to be your testimonial and spread the word about the quality of the catering service. Ask for online rating and reviews on appropriate platforms to help build your business portfolio.

On the flip side, we humans tend to forget things as time goes on. To ensure you create a lasting impression on the customer, sign them up for newsletters, and other services were a constant reminder of your catering services is provided subtly. Another good non-invasive way to remind them of your service is to wish on special occasions such as birthdays and anniversary and notify any special offers and events.

Summing it up

Taking notes to make the digital switch

 As a catering service in 2021, it is of at most importance to create a digital presence for multiple reasons. Having a digital presence creates branding, service awareness, targeted marketing and most of all instils trust.

To do so, the best means are social media marketing, a dedicated website for your catering service, utilization of Google Business Solutions, Google Surveys, SEO, SEM and website listings.

Moreover, we explored the digitization of catering processes to enhance productivity and improve convenience. In conclusion, The knowledge of a digital funnel is very important to understand the cycle of customer conversion and to help potential customers through it.

We understand that there has been a lot of information that is provided. When taken in at once, all the information provided may seem overwhelming. You can take one step at a time and implement each strategy individually at your convenience. It is the ability to expand and go beyond comfort zones that pay off in the long run.