Foodservice marketing metrics don’t matter



I recently was talking to a distributor’s marketing manager who I respect immensely.  The rhetorical question “how do foodservice manufacturers measure their marketing” came up during the conversation.

In harmony, we answered “they don’t” simultaneously.

Our mutual response wasn’t a criticism.  It was a reflection of reality we both have seen at most manufacturers.  All the advances in CRM systems, ad-tracking platforms and sponsored awareness studies remain undervalued because, well, few spend the resources to put the data to use.

Metrics only matter once the expensive and time-consuming step is taken to analyze all the info to determine actionable strategies.  Which most companies don’t do.  So, that’s why it’s easy to say metrics don’t matter in foodservice marketing.

And that’s OK.  There are there still things that can be done to validate those “marketing-by-a-gut” decisions:

  • In your mouth metrics.  Sales VPs are famous for saying “if we can get the customer to taste our product, we get the order.”  OK, samples are key —so raise the budget on that line item.  In return, that Sales VP should return great operator success stories about how they use and profit from the product.  Next to a sample, operators are always interested in hearing from their peers about a product (hey, a short video works here!).  Those stories will ultimately lead to more sample requests… which will then measure the Sales VP’s “taste and they will order” philosophy.
  • Measure where it matters. Page views and Facebook likes really don’t tell you much because it’s difficult to distill out who the customers are in all the charts and graphs.   A better focus is a constant dialogue with brokers, corporate sales reps and distributors who personally deliver your messages to operators.  Understand these audiences and you’ll have a handle on a majority of what matters.
  • Educate senior executives.  It’s a senior executive’s job to measure things.  But they often don’t understand what makes marketing measurement a reality.  However, most executives do understand supply chain management because it’s a more black-and-white discipline.  So, educate them with concepts they understand like… “would you expect accurate supply-chain productivity measurement without a full-time person overseeing the numbers?”  Same holds true for marketing measurement — the data only becomes valuable when it’s somebody’s job to turn metrics into actionable information.