Training is the new marketing in foodservice

Ben Franklin said it best… “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” 

When you think about foodservice being a relationship business, having a well-informed sales force becomes the most cost-effective marketing for brands, brokers and distributors.

Following Ben Franklin’s adage… training on the street level involves operators.  And company reps, brokers and DSRs are the facilitators.  Every day reps demonstrate to operators a variety of ways a single product can be used.  Like showing the diner owner how upgraded fry oil not only improves quality, but saves money when cooking French fries.  Or where to place a new entrée on the fast-casual menu to increase the check average.

Operators are no different than any of us considering a major purchase.  They are primarily influenced by their past experience — or a trusted peer, sales rep, friend or family member.   The more you support these elite influencers the better chance you have engaging operators with your brand.

Let’s face it, it’s hard to influence operators these days.  Few operators read publications anymore.  Websites can provide timely info, but compete in the crowded cyberspace.  And rebates and coupons tend to influence price chasers, but rarely entice loyal operators from their favorite brands.

Building brand preference and product knowledge among reps on the street through training is no cakewalk, either.  In fact, training the “influencers” takes as much, if not more, perseverance and patience than a traditional branding campaign.

Many brand marketers don’t see training as part of their job description.  But it’s all semantics.  What do you think “content marketing” is?  That’s just a fancy term for the same type of education that has gone on for years among operators, brokers and distributor reps.

The trick is leveraging all that powerful “content marketing” so it can be delivered in real time as reps everywhere make personal contact with operators.

Training is not the holy grail of “integrated communications.”  Building a brand’s voice is much more complex than that.  However, brand involvement in training is often a significantly missed opportunity in many marketers’ annual plans.