Foodservice marketers say last week’s blog was a big pile of #%*$

HPC-podcast-artLast week’s post generated quite a few replies when I suggested that food manufacturers should develop and provide videos, photos and other dynamic content that operator customers can use with their digital signage.  Oh, and the content should be provided free to anybody who asks for it!

The feedback centered on three issues:  1) digital assets are too valuable to simply give away; 2) non-customers will take

      Big Pile of Stuff

the assets like the greedy folks they are; and 3) not branding the assets is generally a dumb idea.

OK, I have to admit these are valid concerns — if we were living in 1990 when the web and smart mobile devices didn’t exist in any meaningful way.

Here are some points to ponder as to why these concerns should disappear as fast as your Milli Vanilli CD:

  • Hunt or be hunted. A wise mentor once asked me “Do you want to chase your competitors or have your competitors chase you?”  The goodwill that first-movers build by being a reliable provider of digital content to restaurant owners will be deep.  Your competitors will react with assets of their own eventually.  But genuine gestures to offer help without strings attached is greatly appreciated — and isn’t quickly forgotten.  Ask Google how this business model has worked for it… a company that can buy your company from profits it makes just this week.
  • Besides, you’re already giving away the store.  It’s ironic that many food companies fear giving away digital assets yet don’t blink at spending thousands to develop recipes that they freely post.  Video and photo production costs are likely significantly less than recipe programs.  Recipes are great, but every company offers recipes as “price of admission” to be in the industry.  Recipes are certainly not a differentiator.  Downloading some quality digital sign content, however, will attract current and new customers to your website (isn’t that the point?).  And non-customers might just stumble upon a new product idea while downloading the content.  The incremental cost for a few freeloaders is virtually zero with lots of upside to convert them to customers.
  • Not everything is a (typical) branding exercise. Obviously, branding is more than slapping your logo onto everything.  Especially these days when customers respond to open, honest dialogue through social media and free sharing of ideas.  Operators will appreciate the small gesture of offering non-branded digital signage concepts from you.  You’re providing a positive, meaningful experience at your website which, by definition, is brand-building.