Is your foodservice company a Googler or Amazonite?

HPC-podcast-artThe days when a marketing strategy consisted of running ads in Nation’s Restaurant News and exhibiting at the NRA show were a lot simpler for us foodservice marketers.

Now, as many food companies enter the 2016 planning season, the multitude of marketing “opportunities” swirl like gnats on a Wisconsin lake — thanks to the disruption of the internet and smartphones.  Everything from social media and content marketing to mobile apps and good ‘ol sales sheets have made decision-making a lot harder.

      Googlers and Amazonites

But all the new-fangled ideas really boil down to the same two schools of marketing thought that have been around forever.  To put in modern terms… are you Googler or are you an Amazonite?  At the core, these two companies represent the two basic strategies to draw a crowd to your business.

  • Googlers believe advertising and other paid opportunities remain the core marketing tactics. The goal is to create product demand by controlling your message through frequent and consistent advertising.  And while click-thru rates average around .1% (yes, 99.9% of ads cause no action), the theory is you win by being prominent when an interested operator does come on to the scene.
  • Amazonites argue you build business by helping operators make a decision through education and feedback. In fact, Amazon itself claims that its real service is providing important reviews and rich media presentations to help customers make a decision.  It just so happens Amazon also offers the same products alongside the info.

Of course, most companies rightfully try to do both.   And each company has its own secret formula that strikes a balance between the two approaches (or so we all like to believe!).  But here are a few questions to consider as you consider marketing investments for the New Year:

  • When did you last visit customers? Regular visits with actual loyal customers are eye-opening and will likely change how you balance out your marketing spend.  So, just as you schedule and budget for ad campaigns, consider scheduling regular trips where you just listen to customers about their daily working life.  Their feedback will help you bob-and-weave between being  more of a Googler or an Amazonite as conditions change throughout the year.
  • What is your definition of a customer? Operators might be the end customers who get marketers all giddy when creating a strategy.  But the foodservice channel is complicated among sales reps, brokers, distributors and buying groups.  Do you spend equal amounts of time and resources on them? Understanding and exploiting the holistic nature of all the market “audiences” will likely change the optimal Googler and Amazonite mix that will best deliver your message.
  • Why should anybody care? Honestly, most operators don’t care that much about your chili-and-lime kale snacks.  But, if you get clarity on the two questions above, you’ll answer the toughest question of all.  Why do the loyal customers you do have keep buying (it probably has little to do with your basic features and benefits)?  Answer that why question and most of your marketing plan will write itself.