It can be difficult to make your brand stand out in an ever-growing pool of food and drink businesses. The success of your brand depends upon effective marketing strategies: with the right approach, your business will flourish.
We’ve created this support tool to guide business owners and marketing teams through key strategies to elevate their brand and outpace competitors.
Harness the power of digital marketing with stunning social media, personalised email marketing and savvy digital advertising to drive traffic to a flawless e-commerce website. More traditional marketing strategies – like PR campaigns, product sampling and striking photography – are also essential for fuelling business growth by reaching new audiences and enhancing your brand validity.
Read this 10-step marketing guide to help you take your food and drink business to the next level
- Have a killer e-commerce website
- Personalised email marketing
- Digital advertising, the smart way
- Stunning social media
- Flawless Google My Business
- Gain recognition with PR and awards
- Offer product sampling
- Build an army of brand ambassadors
- Invest in professional photography
- Get wholesale ready
1 - Have a killer e-commerce website
With online fast becoming the preferred way to shop, a flawless e-commerce site is essential for the growth of your business.
Manage the direct-to-consumer relationship
Your e-commerce site is the central hub for consumer engagement with your brand. Manage the direct-to-consumer relationship with a sleek, fast and professional site to build trust for your brand with potential customers. Consider the user journey: guide customers seamlessly from the landing page, around your site and through to the checkout with a clear, brand-focused design to ensure each visit is a positive engagement with your business.
Easy navigation and building brand-consumer trust are essential for achieving a high conversion rate. Embed brand icons to highlight the best of your business and its most appealing traits – sustainability, local suppliers and free delivery, for example, are attributes that can encourage visitors to make a purchase.
Inspiring and functional
The success of your e-commerce site depends upon its ease-of-use. Design your site so that it is easy to navigate, with strong signposting and clear call-to-actions with embedded links like ‘add to cart’ and ‘go to checkout’.
Polished e-commerce sites have excellent visual branding, high-quality product images and clear, inspiring product descriptions. Make sure the site’s copy reflects the tone of your brand and highlights key features of your products whilst being engaging, easy to read, and enhancing the Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) of the website. Optimize your e-commerce site for mobile use, too – after all, around half of internet traffic today comes from mobiles.
Seamless cart experience
A seamless cart experience encourages customers to follow through with making a purchase. Ensure that everything about your site’s checkout is easy – easy to enter, to navigate and to complete.
Top tip - Offer a range of payment options to make the purchase as easy as possible. These can include credit and debit cards to PayPal, Apple Pay and Google Pay - guarantee that your checkout is secure, too.
2 - Personalised email marketing
Email remains the most-used channel of communication, so building a successful email marketing strategy is vital for nurturing relationships with existing customers and converting prospective clients into buyers.
Beautiful and timely email newsletters
Having a newsletter is a great way to build your mailing list by encouraging people to subscribe with the promise of regular business updates and exclusive discounts. Decide how often to send your newsletter – weekly and monthly are typical timeframes. Be consistent: schedule newsletters in advance to allow for content planning and consideration of timings – time of day, day of the week and other events will all have an impact on your open and click-through rates.
In your newsletters, offer incentives to buy your products such as discount codes and free samples, or something customers will deem of value like informative guides and the exclusive on new product releases. Utilise strong call-to-actions to encourage customers to follow embedded links to your website.
Beautiful design and well-written copy are key to the success of your newsletters. Ensure that emails are visually engaging for readers with a template that blends consistent branding with stunning, professional aesthetics.
Build segments based on user demographics and product interests
Divide up your mailing list into more targeted segments based on user demographics and product interests. Optimize your emails by sending targeted ones to different segments to improve your open rates and click-through rates whilst decreasing unsubscribe rates. For example, segment demographically by identifying new subscribers and inactive subscribers, or utilise product interest segmentation determined by previous purchases or product views.
Welcome new subscribers
An invaluable drip-feed marketing campaign, welcome flows aim to initiate a consumer into your mailing list with a series of emails introducing your brand. Send the first email immediately after the consumer signs up to your mailing list, whether that be manually or during a transaction, to welcome them to your brand’s online community and provide engaging information about the origins and aims of your business. Further emails should be sent a few days later to encourage further engagement from the consumer – for example, use action-led language to urge subscribers to follow your social media channels and visit your website.
For the best results, your welcome flow should last for roughly a week and include content that showcases the best of your brand – after all, it can be a consumer’s first interaction with your business.
Automated and personalised emails
Schedule automated emails, or autoresponders, that send to a segment of your mailing list in response to a particular customer activity. This can include subscribing to your mailing list, adding products to their cart, browsing behaviours and purchases made. Automated emails enable you to nurture leads and turn prospective customers into buyers.
Personalise emails based on factors such as:
- Page visits
- Abandoned carts
- Level of spend
- Product interest
Top tip - ensure you connect your email marketing platform to your e-commerce store so that you can easily track revenue performance from campaigns and see what is driving the best ROI.
Need a new email marketing template designed or a customer journey mapping, get in touch today for a free consultation
3 - Digital advertising, the smart way
Launch digital advertising campaigns to reap the benefits of an online world, from retargeting interested customers to reaching a wider breadth of your target audience.
Social media advertising
Social media advertising is a highly effective way for your business to reach new audiences. Make use of the targeting options different platforms offer to narrow down your prospective audience. For example, Facebook and Instagram can target audiences via:
- Demographics (age and gender)
- Behaviours (purchase behaviours, device usage)
- Connections (connected to your business’ page or their friends).
Social media platforms can also target lookalike audiences – people who are similar to your existing customers. You can upload existing customer or contact information for example from your ecommerce website or from your Mailchimp account
Choose from the ever-growing range of placements social media advertising can take. Most commonly used are adverts that appear in social media feeds, but your ads can also take the form of stories, videos, carousels and collections. Consider the placement of your adverts and utilise scheduling tools to plan your campaign and yield better results. Set the budget for your social media campaign and ensure it has a clear, achievable objective.
Investing in Google advertising is a sure-fire way to grow your online sales. Google ads take a variety of forms, from appearing in search results on Google and Google Maps through to shopping ads and display campaigns. Boost your online sales and mailing list sign-ups with carefully curated ads that drive customers to your website. Use Google’s range of marketing tools to reach your target audience, boost brand awareness in your locality and extend your business’s reach further afield. Analyse the reports and insights Google provides on your campaign’s success to review, adjust and improve your ads; analytics are crucial to enhancing the effectiveness of your business’s future campaigns.
Google Shopping ads are one of the most successful advertising options the search engine offers. Invest in product listing ads that appear on search results pages, ensuring that they feature the price and a high-quality image of your product to boost click-through rates to your online shop. It is becoming increasingly more important for food and drink brands to feature in Google Shopping results to ensure that they are visible against their fiercest competitors.
One of the greatest benefits of digital advertising is retargeting, a marketing technique that reaches consumers who have already visited your website or engaged with your business online. Retargeting can prove highly successful as the people targeted have already shown an interest in your products.
Invest in retargeting to have your business’s digital ads appear for interested consumers on social media and search engines. Decide what form your ads should take – they can be for products previously viewed or added to their cart, ads to drive consumers back to your website or other digital campaigns that remind the consumer about your business.
Top tip - to get the best results ensure you run a series of tests to understand what works. Common things to test are audience, creative and copy. Be sure to only test one variation at a time.
4 - Stunning social media
In a world increasingly driven by social media, a strong online social presence for your business can be one of the best marketing tools in your arsenal.
Share beautiful imagery of your products
Create social media accounts for your business across multiple platforms (Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are standard) and use these to share beautiful images of your products with consumers – after all, people eat with their eyes. Hire a professional photographer to provide you with high-quality images showing your food or drink in its best light. It is a good investment: stunning, professionally curated images and videos will give you striking content to post for months to come (see below for more on photography).
Build and nurture your own community
Use social media to engage with consumers. Make it personal by talking about the origins of your company, the latest ventures in your business, the provenance of your brand and the locality of its products. Use carefully crafted copy to describe the experience of consuming your food or drink by detailing the tastes and smells for the user, and employ action-led language to drive traffic to your website via signposted links.
Grow your following organically by posting regular, engaging content with relevant tags, or, for greater exposure, pay social media platforms to advertise your brand’s content.
User generated content
User generated content (UGC) is any content about a brand that has been created, published or submitted by users of the products. The most common forms of UGC – images, videos, reviews and testimonials – are perfectly suited for social media posts. UGC is becoming an increasingly popular form of digital marketing for tech-savvy food and drink brands. Encouraging and sharing UGC on social media yields impressive results as it increases the authenticity of your brand; consumers trust testimonials by real people who have truly experienced the product – hence the popularity of review platforms like TripAdvisor. It can also be cost-effective as, most often, users generate the content for free.
UGC allows your brand to connect with consumers on a personal level, enhancing the sense of community social media is so adapt at creating. Encourage consumers of your brand to create UGC at different stages of the purchasing process, like immediately after purchase and during the consumption of your product. Beautiful packaging and physical spaces (such as shops or eateries) will also motivate your consumers to share their experience with your brand. Offering incentives – discounts or competitions, for example - prove especially successful.
Top tip - Focus on educating and nurturing your audience with content that they can’t find elsewhere. When they come back for more, react and respond to every comment or message and turn them into advocates.
We’re Sprout Social Agency Partners and offer social media management packages from just £450 per month - learn more here
5 - Flawless Google My Business
Get the most out of free-to-use Google My Business to boost off-site SEO and drive customer engagement.
Boost off-site SEO
Google My Business is great for boosting your brand’s off-site SEO. The free-to-use tool strengthens local SEO and drives both web and foot traffic to your business sites. Ensure all essential information on your GMB account is accurate and up to date, like business hours, contact information, delivery area and business address – it’s also important to add updates like limited time offers and temporary business closures.
Enhance your website’s SEO via backlinks by adding all products to your profile with high-quality, professional photographs, and ensure to link back to your site to support domain authority.
Position your brand on Google Search and Google Maps
Use GMB to engage with customers on Google Search and Google Maps. When a consumer searches for your business, GMB positions it as the top search result whilst displaying information like your business location and how to visit your online and physical addresses.
Make use of GMB analytics to see how consumers engage with your business’s profile – for example, you can analyse the number of searches, click-through rates, bookings, calls photos viewed and engagement with directions to your business. Use this information to determine successful parts of your profile and adapt aspects that earn less customer engagement to improve the effectiveness of your Google presence.
Encourage reviews from customers
Encourage all customers to leave Google Business reviews after engaging with your brand – by making a purchase, for example. Reviews boost your business’s credibility and build trust with potential consumers who value the experiences of real customers. The more reviews, and the better they are, the higher you’ll rank in Google’s local algorithm which can dramatically boost your position in search results.
Create a Google review link shortcut for your Business Profile and display this on your website to encourage customers to review your brand. Embedding reviews into your web pages can also prove highly successful, both in increasing purchases and enhancing your SEO.
Top tip - Encourage reviews in your post-purchase automated email flow, on social media and with POS marketing materials for sales made in person.
Make sure to respond to reviews made, whether positive or negative. This demonstrates to new consumers that your brand is engaged with customers and listens to feedback, whilst showing previous customers that leaving a review is worth their time. Use action-led copy that highlights the ease and speed of leaving a Google review to encourage positive endorsements.
6 - Gain recognition with PR & awards
Entering food and drink awards, gaining press coverage and featuring in gift guides are sure-fire ways to expose your business to new audiences, generate buzz about your products and enhance your brand credibility.
Sustained PR campaign
Ensure your business maintains a strong PR presence, keeping it front of mind for local and regional publications – and even national press. Send updates to publications in the form of press releases. These may include stories about new product releases, your latest business ventures or special events. Build your press list from the bottom up, starting with local publications.
Craft press releases carefully so that they are quick and easy to read, ensuring you’ve made the angle and essence of your story clear in the first few lines. Offer interviews, images and quotes with relevant contact details to make your business’s story more appealing for journalists to publish. Sending seasonal roundups can also prove beneficial for your business – publications are kept up-to-date with news from the latest quarter, and you can also publish these roundups as blog posts on your website or send as email newsletters to your subscribers.
Top tip - Wow journalists and stay front-of-mind with delicious samples of your products. If you don’t already have sampling available then create miniature versions that can be sent to prospective publications. This will help you stand out and also help the journalists really get a sense of what your product is like.
Entering awards can bring a huge boost to your business: even if your brand doesn’t win, you’ll benefit from wider recognition, new audiences and greater brand credibility. Awards are trusted by consumers – and retailers – so entering can be a simple way to enhance brand validation. Enter as many awards related to your business as possible.
How you write your applications is crucial to their success. They should focus on the story of your brand with emphasis on its locality and unique selling points. If featured in competitions, your business will benefit from free exposure, wider press coverage and a buzz about your products.
Get in gift guides
Having your products featured in gift guides introduces your brand to a wider audience whilst positioning it as a go-to business for quality, expert-recommended gifts. You will benefit from increased brand awareness and credibility with a large boost in online traffic and sales. Make sure that you have high-quality, professional photographs suited to gift guides – often the same white background images used on your e-commerce site.
Research relevant publications that have food and drink sections in their guides, and send them tailored pitches that showcase your products in their best light. Check that the publications you pitch to are the right price point and fit your target consumer profile, ensuring you include as many of your products as possible to maximise your outreach. Keep in mind that seasonal gift guides are curated months in advance – Christmas gift guides, for example, expect pitches to be sent in the summer months.
7 - Offer product sampling
Offering sample sized products is a great strategy to entice potential customers into your brand without the commitment of a substantial purchase.
Showcase your products at events
Events are some of the best places to introduce your products to new audiences (in a post-COVID world, of course!). Showcase your brand at local food festivals, county shows and Christmas markets, for example, where you can offer samples of your produce for consumers to try. Not only will this result in sales on the spot, but consumers that engage with your brand are more likely to make purchases online in the future.
Top tip - Run a competition on the day to encourage consumers to subscribe to your mailing list and follow your social media channels to keep your brand front of mind after the event has ended.
Offer checkout sampling
Checkout sampling offers customers a small sample of another of your products when making a purchase. Decide whether your samples will be free or paid. Checkout sampling is easiest to offer, but online sampling can also be carried out successfully. Some samples may be offered in exchange for something – subscription to your mailing list, for example – or you could send free samples with online orders.
Encourage product trials
Paid samples are smaller products that consumers can buy without committing to the larger price of a full-sized product. Potential customers often lack trust with new food and drink businesses due to brand unfamiliarity and lack of longevity, so a small introductory product with a less hefty price tag can entice people into your brand. This allows for a consideration phase, where the consumer decides if they want to invest in the full-size product.
Smaller samples are perfect for sending to press, too. Send samples of new products for press to review to make coverage of your brand more likely – journalists can experience the product for themselves and may repay the favour with free press coverage.
8 - Build an army of brand ambassadors
Working with ambassadors can reap huge rewards for little expense – they introduce your brand to new target audiences, drive traffic to your website and create invaluable user-generated content to share across your channels.
Work with people in your community to promote the brand
Begin by finding your ambassadors: they can be loyal customers, members of your local community, individuals prominent in your business’s field or influencers with considerable social media followings. Select potential ambassadors with your brand in mind: they should have a following that largely reflects your target audience, likely fitting into this category themselves, and be willing to share their love for your brand with a wider audience.
Share content on social media
Encourage brand ambassadors to help you by giving away products and samples. They will be more inclined to share content on their channels in return for freebies. This content commonly takes the form of stories, videos or main feed posts which your brand’s channels can then share, providing you with user-generated content that potential customers will trust.
Benefit from affiliate style marketing by giving ambassadors a unique discount code to share with their audiences. Exclusive discounts for online communities prove successful incentives to encourage new customers to visit your e-commerce site and make a purchase.
You can ask ambassadors to create content directly for your channels, too. Positive testimonies generated on social media can also feature on your website or be used in future digital ad campaigns.
Top tip - Message individuals directly on their preferred platform and offer them free products to get their attention quickly.
Get in touch to find out how we grew our clients social following using an ambassador first strategy
9 - Invest in professional photography
Everything begins with good photography: hire a professional photographer to capture your products in their best light, providing you with high-quality images that are key to the success of all digital marketing projects.
Make a good first impression
A picture is worth a thousand words – high-quality photographs can communicate more about your brand than any amount of description. In our increasingly fast-paced, digital world, stunning images capture the eye of potential customers with limited attention spans. Photography is often a customer’s first impression of your business, and professional, high-quality images convey to customers that your brand and its products are impressive and legitimate.
Even though hiring a photographer can be expensive, it’s a good investment: professional photos are versatile, providing you with high-quality content to use in an array of marketing projects.
Professional photography can be used for:
- E-commerce product images
- Website banners
- Social media
- Email marketing
- Online advertising
National press will not publish a poor quality product image - they will use someone else's.
Professional product photography is essential for a successful e-commerce website. When customers can’t see your products in the flesh, high-quality images that show them from multiple angles ensure customers see enough of your product to make an informed purchase online.
Professional product images enhance the perceived validity of your e-commerce site and can also boost SEO rankings. Make sure your photography is updated to showcase new products or updated packaging.
Lifestyle photography provides valuable content to share across your brand’s digital channels. Lifestyle images showcase your product in an appealing but relatable everyday situation, so potential customers can envisage themselves enjoying your product like this. Lifestyle photography allows you to tell a story with your products and depict an aspirational lifestyle they can help consumers achieve.
Ensure you have seasonal photos to use at different times of the year – summer and Christmas, for example, have vastly different lifestyle aesthetics, so having a versatile bank of photographs for every occasion is beneficial.
Top tip - Update your photography regularly to reflect the seasons. Keep them organised and readily available to press or resellers to help spread the word.
10 - Get wholesale ready
Make sure you’re ready to supply wholesale – not only will it make up a huge proportion of your income, but having your products on other retailer’s shelves gives your business greater exposure and builds brand credibility.
Consider your product range and pricing
Decide which of your products would work best for wholesale – most likely, these will be your best-selling products. Consider if some of your products would work well in a bundle, too. Determine your wholesale pricing (which should be less than retail pricing) and develop a clear price plan with minimum order requirements.
Produce a beautiful trade catalogue
Design a trade catalogue that showcases the best of your brand. It should have a clear layout with professional product images for you to pitch to potential retailers. Make sure you have a suite of digital assets ready including copy, photography, video and logos.
Take a look at the Trade Catalogue that we produced for Dartmoor Whisky Distillery here.
Choose your packaging
Consider your packaging, both for the shelves and distribution. Design the packaging with your brand in mind – it needs to be functional but appealing, as it shapes how retailers and customers will perceive your brand.
Top tip - Don’t forget your audience - keep your direct-to-consumer campaigns alive to ensure your supermarket rate of sale is in the good books with the buyers!