Marketing in Foodservice: Does your dog bite?

Marketing in the foodservice industry on a budget can be challenging for start-ups and newer companies. Here are some strategies to consider:

  1. Qualify your customers: Clearly define your target audience and identify the specific needs your product fulfills. Focus your marketing efforts on reaching those who are most likely to benefit from and appreciate your offerings. Foodservice includes many subchannels: restaurants (chain/independent, various cuisines, full serve to QSR, Business & Industry, College & Universities, K-12, healthcare and much more. Otherwise, you might be like Inspector Clouseau when he asks, “Does your dog bite?” 
  2. Develop a compelling value proposition: Clearly communicate the unique value your product brings to chefs and operation owners. Highlight the benefits, features, and qualities that set your product apart from competitors and appeal to your target audience.
  3. Direct or distributor: Evaluate whether going direct to customers or utilizing distributors is the best approach for your business. Going through distributors can offer benefits such as wider audiences, established relationships, and valuable services to operators. If going direct, develop a well-managed plan to reach and engage with chefs and owner/operators (purchase decision makers).
  4. Hustle to sell: Whether you have a large or limited marketing budget, be proactive and personally engage with customers. Create a system to generate leads, such as studying restaurant menus and reaching out to chefs or owners. Offer sampling opportunities. Use Brizo to find the right restaurants to target. Let me know if you’d like an intro to Brizo and to get their services at a discount.
  5. Create powerful marketing materials: Invest in creating impactful marketing materials that communicate your message and value proposition. Ensure your products are properly listed in the Global Data Synchronization Network (GDSN) with accurate and up-to-date information. Utilize tools like QR codes to provide additional information and enhance the customer experience.

Check out for great use of QR codes & traceability. We used this at FSA on our private label scallops and created a unique bond between consumer and product.

  • Excellent customer support: Deliver exceptional customer support to build loyalty and secure repeat orders. Address customer inquiries and concerns promptly, offer assistance, and ensure a positive experience throughout the purchasing process.
  • Attend industry events: Participate in industry trade shows, food exhibitions, and chef association meetings where you can showcase your products and connect with potential customers. These events provide opportunities to engage with a concentrated audience of chefs, owners, and industry professionals.
  • Craft your story: Develop a compelling and concise elevator pitch that effectively conveys your brand story, value proposition, and what sets you apart. Clearly articulate the unique aspects of your product and how it addresses the needs of foodservice operators. Check out

Remember, even with a limited budget, your personal efforts, strategic networking, and focused marketing initiatives can help establish your brand and generate interest in your foodservice products.

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