How to Master the Art of Marketing.

Here it is. Food service distributors, this is the list you have been waiting for.

This is the ultimate list of tips and tactics that you can use to market your business. If it will help you get buyers placing orders, it’s on this list.

Well, not quite. Since marketing is an ever-evolving field with new strategies being developed all the time, it’s impossible to publish the end-all, be-all in supplier marketing. But we have to say, this list comes pretty close.

So pick a place to start (we’ve categorized tips by theme) and begin putting these tips to use. Your business’ growth potential is limitless with the kind of toolkit at your disposal.

Freshen Up your Digital Footprint.

Face it: With the digital media age we live in, buyers will judge your business and the products you offer based on your online presence, before even trying it. If they see you haven’t invested in how you come across on the internet, they’ll assume the same is true about the products you’re offering even if that’s not the case. Taking the time to ensure your business’ digital face reflects the quality of your products can be the difference in a potential buyer placing their first order with you or a competitor on any given day. Don’t miss the opportunity to put your best digital foot forward.

1. You need a website that’s well designed and contains locations of different buyers that sells your products, what your different products are, and information about your business. Here’s a great example by Sapsucker:

2. Showcase your products on other sites like Yelp and Facebook. Convenience is key so make it as easy for your buyers to access information as possible

3. Set up online ordering. Digital ordering is the way of the future, and soon, will be the expectation for everyone looking for wholesale supplies. notch can save your buyers, and you hours every week on repetitive orders, managing payment and browsing products. Let us know what your business goals are, and we can help. Either way, digital ordering is coming, and the sooner you prepare for it the happier you (and your buyers!) will be.  

4. Keep everything consistent and up-to-date, on your website and social media. Do regular checks to make sure nothing(like prices, product offerings, hours) needs to be changed on your marketing materials.

5. Start a blog on your website, you can post cool recipes with your products, recaps of events you’ve hosted, really anything that interests you.

6. Make sure your business can be found on Google Maps

7. Use a daily deal site like Groupon or LivingSocial to entice new and existing customers to purchase from you.

8. Make your website mobile friendly, Google will love you for it and so will your buyers.

9. Set up a Google Adwords campaign. It’ll cost a little upfront, but it will help more buyers find your business online.

10. Develop a brand and strong identity. This could include things like your logo, colours, fonts, messaging, writing style and so on. Use them in your marketing and day-to-day operations so your guests have something to relate to.

11. Use an app. Having an app where buyers can order, pay online, and pick up offers and discounts will make ordering easier, less chaotic and more precise. There can be high costs associated with development though, which is why many suppliers prefer the notch platform. Regardless of how you choose to explore this option, make sure you keep your buyer’s needs, wants and businesses in mind.

Master the Art of Social Media Marketing.

More and more, people are exploring and learning about where they will order their next meal from, or what they can do to improve their businesses or lives on social media. It’s the modern version of the recommendation from your next door neighbour. This goes for restaurant owners, too. Social media has supercharged the abilities of suppliers to reach potential customers, so be sure to get savvy with it and put it to good use.

One thing to note is that you don’t have to and shouldn’t be on every social media platform out there. Focus on one or two and put a lot of effort into building your following.

12. Share photos of your product on social media, so potential buyers can see firsthand what type of top-notch products you’re offering. Here’s a fantastic example by The Butcher Shoppe, where customers have commented rave reviews!

The Butcher Shoppe Instagram

13. Turn on Business Account – this will allow you to use Instagram and Facebook’s marketing tools to identify your best performing posts. Do people engage more when it’s food related content or behind the scenes? Use this information to learn more about your buyers and their interest and apply that knowledge to your overall strategy.

14. Use Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to post daily content encouraging potential buyers to engage with you. It’s authentic, and it also helps with keeping you on people’s mind more frequently.

15. Create short cooking videos, on Instagram Reels or TikTok to showcase your products and post to your social media – check out accounts like Buzzfeed’s Tasty or Tastemade for some great inspiration!

16. Develop video and photo content to give buyers a behind-the-scenes look by featuring your staff, events and your work space on social media. It’s not just about the products! Here’s a great example from Hale Coffee!

Employee Spotlight by Hale Coffee – Instagram

17. Create a fun hashtag just for your business, and use it on your social media. Track it over time to see when and what people are posting! Be sure to always use that hashtag with each of your own posts as well, and use it consistently so restaurants can proudly show where they’re sourcing their ingredients.

18. Research relevant hashtags that are popular in your area, and start using them in your social media posts. Keep in mind when doing this research, think about the hashtags your buyers will most likely be following.

19. Encourage buyers to use your supplier hashtag to help spread the word to other potential buyers.

20. Geo-target your social media ads for buyers who live in your area, convenient for both you and your audience.

21. Use social media to educate your guests about what your business stands for and where your products come from. People love and appreciate this kind of transparency. Genuine Tea boasts a great example below! 

Genuine Tea Instagram

22. Twitter still works in real-time, so carefully time your posts to avoid peak Lunch and Dinner rushes, where your buyers will most likely not be on their phone.

23. Embrace user-generated content, and repost photos and reviews from your buyers. They’ll appreciate the shout out and will continue to keep purchasing from you.

24. Interact with your buyers on social media! Respond back to them when they tag or message you. This is a great way to build a stronger relationship with your clients and another great way to show people that there’s a human behind the screen.

25. Use social media management tools such as Hootsuite and Buffer to make social media posting more consistent and efficient.

26. Know the difference between each social media platforms; learn the strengths and weaknesses of each channel, and then use that information to post the right type of content

Seems overwhelming? Start small; pick one or two of these tips and devote 30 mins a week to your social media presence. Better yet, find someone on your staff with a passion for social interaction and let them give it try. Restaurant owners are constantly looking for new inspiration on social media, now more than ever – make sure they see what you have to offer!

Build Loyalty Through Word-of-Mouth Marketing.

Much like social proof, word-of-mouth marketing can make or break your business. Luckily, there’s a lot you can do to get customers talking about your business with their friends, family and network. Here are some tips on developing a loyal following of buyers that keep coming back and bringing others with them:

27. Hosts contests or giveaways (who doesn’t love free stuff) This strategy will help you gain new followers, engage with your customers, and have a little fun!

28. Respond to every message and comment you receive. Make sure you do this, always, whether it’s with your further contact information, through social media, or directly on a Yelp review.

29. Keep your staff happy and treat them well. Maybe deck them out in a cool branded shirt with your logo so they can proudly show where they work. They’re going to be a big driver for word-of-mouth marketing to bring in new and returning buyers

30. Offer gift cards as a way to let your guests spread the word for you. A free order or discount is a pretty great incentive for people to try out a new supplier.

31. Attend local events at restaurants, and get your networking game on! It’s a great way to bounce around ideas with individuals that are in the same industry as you. Learn what restaurants are doing, what supplies and relationships they are looking for, and build up your network.

32. Subscribe to google alerts for your business name, so you know when people are talking about you online.

33. Be charitable. Invest in your community with a donation or by hosting an event. Some chefs within the notch network, for example, volunteer with NGOs that are aimed at teaching children from lower-income households how to cook with nutritious and healthy ingredients like beets, rice, lentils, etc. Consider a donation to a food bank, educational program, shelter; the sky’s the limit, just don’t forget to document it to share and encourage others to do the same.

With Supplier Marketing, Social Proof Matters.

Beyond the tricks of the trade with social media, what people say about your business (particularly on the internet) can matter a great deal to potential buyers, Before they text their network to see if they’ve purchased from you before, they’ll ask Google or Yelp. Back when we started notch, Yelp primarily dealt with restaurants, but we’ve seen many of our suppliers pop up in recent months. Have you checked your business lately?

Like it or not, these perspectives on your establishment are a hard-to-ignore “pre-first impression” that can often dictate whether potential buyers place that first buyer. In short, do the work to make sure the buzz out there about your business is not just positive but enticing as well.

34. If you get any good press, like a great review, a news article, or a glowing review from a reputable buyer on Yelp, share it on your social media and website.

35. Take advantage of Google Business, and claim your local listing so you get to control how your restaurant looks in Google search results.

36. Respond to negative reviews online, and try inviting spurned buyers to give you another try with a special offer. Struggling with a response? Check out our winning formula to respond to negative reviews, and apply it to your distribution business!

37. Reach out to popular local restaurants to try out your products. They have a bigger network than you think, and restaurant owners are constantly communicating with each other so this is a great way to get your products in front of new buyers.

Make Marketing Part of your Customer Experience.

Think of every moment that a restaurant  is ordering from you as a potential marketing opportunity. Let them shop in peace of course, but don’t hesitate to add little flourishes here and there to make their experience unforgettable and get them talking about it with their network. Remember customer experience is a form of marketing too. Make it count.

38. Source local ingredients, and make freshness a part of your marketing vernacular.

39. Focus on your customer service. Collect information about buyers so you can personalize their experience. For example who doesn’t like being told happy birthday before they’ve even told you. It’s a great way to make your buyer feel special and build a deeper connection.

40. Revisit your product pricing and design to see if you can be selling yourself and your products better. This doesn’t have to be complicated; find that you’re getting requests for splits all the time? Make that your default option.

41. Offer coupons and discounts in-house, as well as digitally. It’s old school, but it works.

42  Offer something for free, like a little extra cheese if you’re a dairy supplier or some cool new single origin beans you’ve just imported if you’re a coffee roaster.

43. Surprise your regulars with free products (it doesn’t have to be big) once in a while to let them know you appreciate their business. As a result, this will also help build up loyalty.

44. Train your employees to up-sell and cross-sell.

45. Have a separate pages for different sections of products, so you can really focus on each product with high quality photos that will entice buyers, rather than cramming all your products into one page with no description. Better yet, put some samples on a tray and wave it in front of your buyers.

46. Offer bundles. Buyers will often spend more if they feel like they’re receiving value.

A Final Word on Supplier Marketing

The most important thing when it comes to marketing is to test an idea out, It might not always work, but at least it will give you a better sense of what works for your audience and what doesn’t.

Start with a handful of these ideas.

Over time you’ll have a better understanding of what makes the most sense for your region, buyer demographic, and your budget. Your team will thank you for the extra effort using these tried-and-trued marketing tactics!