Five ways to market boring commodity foodservice products

Common wisdom says you don’t invest precious marketing resources into low-end commodity foodservice products — even though they keep the factories humming with their tiny profits.

But, as Warren Buffett says, the best time for a reasonable investment is when everybody else is running away from a business.  Give your commodity products a slight edge over the competition with a few simple twists:

  • Include prep instructions on the case in Spanish.  It’s amazing how often this is forgotten in an industry blessed with Spanish speakers..
  • Give sales reps simple videos, photos or PDFs of menu ideas, prep tips or storage ideas that they can share with customers via their smartphone.
  • Honor sales reps who consistently move lots of commodity product. They undoubtedly have stories to share on how operators turn potato seconds into high-profit side dishes, low-end roasts into specialty items or canned corn into fun kid’s dishes.
  • Name the mundane like 7UP calling itself the Uncola.  Pork became the other white meat.  Southwest is the LUV airline.  These basic products are special because they simply celebrated their anti-blandness.
  • Start a conversation during an offbeat holiday that has nothing to do with your product.   Even a boring computer network router can be turned into a sex object — and at little cost!

Next week:  What I learned about foodservice marketing from a smoker salesman