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April 14, 2020

Getting the Most from Your Post-COVID Marketing Game Plan

Tony Treadway

The COVID-19 virus has meant disaster for foodservice operators and the marketing plans of food, tech and equipment manufacturers who sell into the channel. Cancelled shows, pulled ads and reduced travel for sales and marketing teams have left a Post COVID War Chest that can be repurposed to win business. The time to build that Post COVID Game Plan is now.

We began a national survey of foodservice operators in every segment of the industry on March 24th. The insights from that survey have revealed a path forward and initiatives smart marketers should be doing. These actions can grow your sales within COVID foodservice recovery:

1. The Foodservice Market Will Shrink. Your Growth Is Dependent on Stealing Market Share from The Other Guy

Predictions are dire for this year, but consumers are hungry for the dining experience. For this year and next, the strategy should be to steal market share from your competitors, then rise with the tide. Doing nothing is not a strategy.

Take a deeper dive into your competitor’s weaknesses. Look at your own weaknesses before your competitors do. Look at revising your payment terms. Innovate new, easier to prep foods for a heat and serve world and offer rebates. Increase segment-specific e-marketing with content specific to each segment. Finally develop that CRM system for communicating regularly with warm and cold leads.

 2. You Need New Messaging & Creative

You know the landscape has changed. Food should be shown in or near packaging that denotes delivery, drive thru or takeout. Food messaging should focus on easy prep since kitchen staffs will likely include new trainees. Comfort foods and food offering high margins are key. For example, French fries are both a comfort food and offer great margins. Loaded fries, fried foods and pasta will be high on the list for new menu development. Plus-one recipes (e.g. sriracha + mayo) will be big.

For tech companies, operators are looking for ways to reduce the cost of third-party delivery companies, staffing and food cost calculators to help operators schedule shifts of workers (in case one team comes into contact with an infected worker) and more closely monitor food costs and margins.

For equipment, refrigeration and warmers will be hot. Used to stage and organize take-out and delivery orders, there is a big opportunity. Now is the time to take new photos with hands reaching into these devices of food packaging that’s ready for the road.

3. Take Another Look at How You Take Your Message to Market

I’m seeing equipment manufacturers e-blasting their targets with a landing page and some quick demo videos explaining the benefits of their equipment in a Post COVID world, then setting appointments for live virtual demos with a sales rep. With shows cancelled and travel restrictions, how else are you going to sell it?

For those who have pulled their ads, you have missed a great opportunity. Foodservice trade publications are setting records for online traffic as operators search for Post COVID solutions. Google search is at an all time high. Do you have a smart Pay Per Click strategy? Our operator survey proves that they are in the hunt for some help from their suppliers. The best way they want to be communicated to right now is an e-blast that offers solutions and insight. Is your e-marketing ready? They are looking for free samples, rebate coupons and menu solutions. Do you have a gated content strategy to capture those leads, then enter those leads into a hot, warm, cool leads sales process?

The Post COVID world of foodservice will create change in every segment. Some segments will recover faster than others. The weeks of listening to your sales team lament their lost opportunities are over. Now is the time to take action with a workable and achievable plan. Use your new-found war chest to develop needed materials quickly and be ready to launch now to beat your competitors who have faulted.

We will be happy to share our new foodservice operator survey to begin your work by assessing new opportunities. One of our brand executives are ready to begin that conversation. There is no time like now.