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March 7, 2022

5 Secrets to High Performance Lead Gen for Foodservice Marketers

Tony Treadway

Foodservice lead generation article.

We’re experiencing high demand for lead generation tactics to revitalize new business pipelines for multiple clients—and for good reasons. As sales teams come out of hibernation from COVID travel restrictions, marketing and sales VPs are hungry for fresh opportunities. Many have invested in CRMs and took the time during the pandemic to train up sales team members on how to use them.

Creative Energy is the leader in lead gen within the foodservice channel, with open and click-through rates outperforming industry benchmarks every single time. Ready for a lead gen explosion? Here goes.

  1. Relevance Is #1
Video content for lead generation.
Visual wonderment is an irresistible draw for lead generation. Our video content creators tell stories that drive targets down the sales funnel for this sustainable seafood account.

It’s like picking the right lure to cast while fishing for smallmouth bass. Look at what you are selling; why the product makes sense for an operator and what segment within foodservice does it make the most sense for. The more relevant your content is for a particular segment, the higher your performance. We always lead in our e-marketing deployments with fresh, relevant content that offers valuable and relevant content that is positioned as an easy fix to an operator’s problem. A C&U foodservice director’s problems are different in many ways from the problems affecting a QSR or fine dining operators. Be aware of the needs of each and deploy solutions specific to each segment. Don’t offer a generic message. They won’t open the e-mail, or your message if you do.

2. Every Word Counts

A subject line of an e-mail marketing program is the most valuable 4–7 words you will ever craft. One of the secrets to enticing a target to open an e-mail is the same as what drew you to this blog post. Offer a subject line that tells them that “this will be easy and add value to what I need”. Thus, my “5 Secrets to High Performance Lead Gen for Foodservice Marketers” worked. Offer tips, insights, in numbers of 3, 5, or 7. Odd numbers work better than even ones. Here are a few more reasons why there should be a strategy in the words you use.

By predicting flavor trends 3 months before the end of the year, our own Creative Energy blog post became one of the most viewed posts in our agency’s 30-year history. Want to read it?

The headline of your e-marketing is very important. It too should entice the target to read the content, and it should align with keyword searches your target might use in search of a product solution. Why? Your content should reside on your website and match your headline to keywords that will be picked up by browsers and rank your site organically higher, long after your e-marketing tactic. Same advice for the first sentence and paragraph of your content. The more content with the proper keywords peppered into your narrative, the better your organic search opportunities.

3. Your List Choice

Your best choice is to leverage lists of leading foodservice publications. Why? Because their lists are of targets who have opted in to receive e-marketing messages. They forward your messaging through their permissions to get you through each target company’s firewalls against spam.

Spend time with your selected media partner to craft your list. Horizontal publications, such as Informa (publishers of everything from Supermarket News to Restaurant Hospitality, Food Management and Nation’s Restaurant News). There are several great publications with impactful lists. Each publication’s list can be sorted to refine your target segment (their job title, their segment, the number of units they operate, and more). Typically, the more you refine the list the higher the price, but a refined list aligned with proper content will have a dramatic effect on your metrics and the quality of the leads that you will generate. Want to know which publication’s list will deliver the most leads? Let’s have a conversation.

4. Your Call to Action (CTA) Is at The Heart of Success

Your goal is lead generation. Without a target voluntarily providing you with their e-mail address, telephone number, and permission to continue communications, you have wasted your time and money. Be smart about your call to action. There must be valuable to them sharing that information.

Example of foodservice lead from a campaign.
Pay attention to leads as they are received. By asking how many meals the lead is serving a day, you and your sales team can react to big opportunities instantly.

The very best call to action is a free sample offer—bar none. Fulfilling free samples is an expensive proposition. Thus, ask a couple more questions in your online lead generation questionnaire. How many meals do you serve each day and who is your broad-line distributor? This will give you the opportunity to grade your leads from a huge opportunity and junk from someone looking for a free meal. If you are the head of sales or marketing, be immediately notified upon a lead generation entry and pay attention to every submission. Great leads should be immediately addressed with their request and notification of the assigned sales team member responsible for that lead. Leads of lesser value can be assigned to staff for additional pre-qualification before shipping a sample.

Enter good leads into your CRM for further marketing activations to drive targets through your sales funnel.

Example of lead generation banner ad.
High-value Flavor Guides are great ways to capture leads as gated content.

Other good CTAs include an offer to download a “Flavor Guide” that is teased through your e-marketing content. For one client, we created a “7 Trend Forward Flavor Guide”. Each tip was teased in the leading content of an e-blast ending by telling the reader that 6 other tips were available by downloading the flavor guide. The user had to give us their lead gen information to do so.

There are several other great ways to capture the leads through perceived value CTAs. Let us know if you would like to discuss.

5. Recycle. Reuse.

You have made an investment in creating original content as the honey for your hunt for leads. Whether it be a video, an infographic, or a blog post, it should reside on your website and be prominent in your top navigation. Beyond its original use, it can continuously serve as a resource for potential customers to draw them into your sales funnel. Make sure that your content includes hotlinks with the copy to your CTA where you can capture the lead.

Example of lead generation content articles to create opportunities.
See how we curate past blog articles for Red Gold’s Foodservice Division. This repository gives the user the opportunity to drill by their segment into content with the greatest relevance.

Try to make your content evergreen as possible. However, understand major trends affecting operators who are in search of a solution that your product or offering can resolve. For example, products that reduce time and labor in the kitchen, or a product that can be used in multiple menu applications should be mentioned in your headline and early in your body copy.

Also, share fresh content with your sales team, brokers, and distributors and encourage them to read and share it with current customers and prospects. It will generate conversations.

Summing It Up One of the reasons for our 30 years of success as a valued foodservice ad agency is that we help clients generate sales through smart lead generation. Our tactics are smart. Our content creators are the best. It’s why we enjoy long relationships. If you are in search of an agency that will help you grow your sales, let us tell your story and bring business-boosting sales leads to your company.