4 Content Marketing Rules for the Food Industry (Dangerous for Hungry Readers)

Alright, you’ve been warned.  Inside this post you will find all kinds of mouthwatering goodness that will whet your appetite for some savory dishes and even tastier content marketing strategies.  Writing about the food industry may be all about the adjectives, but we’re going to go ahead and check those at the door for the remainder of this post.  Have your snack ready?

This week we published a brand new guide, 10 Big Industries and Their Content Marketing Strategies.  This guide is designed to offer strategies, ideas, and solutions for all ten of the industries we write for.  Of course, odds are only one of those industries will apply to you specifically.  However, we think you can probably glean a few lessons by reading from the other industries!

Rule #1 Target A Specific Demographic

This first word of advice should be so painfully obvious that it goes without saying.  However, I’ve seen enough food-related blogs to know that clearly isn’t the case.  A couple of days ago, as part of a research assignment, I browsed through over a dozen food-related blogs that had little to no content marketing strategy behind them.  I can’t name names, but a number of these blogs had virtually no target demographic with their online strategy.

Because all of these companies are successful as big brick-and-mortar businesses, I know that they do have target demographics.  So, why do their websites fail to address specific target audiences online?  Many companies assume they can use their online presence to talk to everyone, but by being so broad, they end up heard by no one.  I can’t stress how critical it is that you tailor your website and blogging for business strategy to a specific demographic.

Many food companies think that because they sell something so “basic” like chicken that they can get away with casting a wide net.  Even McDonald’s – believed to own a whopping 17% of the limited-service restaurant industry in the U.S. – knows that they can’t reach everyone.  And, more importantly, they don’t try to.  Multiple studies have been done on the target market audience of the fast food industry.  And, say what you will about the ethical aspect of the industry’s marketing, it has no doubt accomplished its goals.

While we would hope that your advertising doesn’t attempt to manipulate impressionable children and fill their bodies with poison, the fast food industry does offer some important lessons about the significance of target marketing!  If you need help with determining the demographics and psychographics of your audience, check out the first section of this blog post from fellow CEM blogger, Andrew, which offers some insight on Likester and the fundamentals of psychographics.

Remember, develop a clear understanding of your target audience, and write for that person.

Rule #2 Visual, Visual, Visual

Once you are focused on your demographic, it’s time to launch your content marketing efforts.  Just as real estate marketers chant, “Location, location, location,” I’m going to remind you that the key to selling food is, “Visual, visual, visual.”  Of course, if your product tastes awful, then this isn’t going to get you any repeat customers.  However, as we get things going, and attempt to pre-qualify leads, we’re going to prioritize the visual aspect of food content marketing.

In the 10 Industries Guide, we mentioned Pinterest and Instagram for food.  I believe there is a huge market out there for the food industry that’s just waiting to be tapped into. One of our clients, Amoretti, is doing a great job already with their Twitter page, which frequently features Instagram photos of their products and their products being used in different recipes and dishes.  See what I mean?

And, while you don’t want to be this kind of Instagram-mer, it definitely doesn’t take much to get the ball rolling.  After all, the point of Instagram is to make even the most void-of-all-talent photographers look great!  (No, that’s not a slam.)

Shifting gears, to see a great example of a company that’s using Pinterest effectively, check out this board from Whole Foods.  I know I’ve shared the Whole Foods Pinterest board in the past, but when it comes to food content marketing, the Whole Foods team is pro!  Plus, Pinterest has a big social element (which we’ll get to in Rule #4).

Rule #3 Food Is Creative

If you are selling any kind of food product that requires more than peeling back plastic and pressing a microwave button, then listen to this: Food is creative.  You already know that – it’s probably creativity that inspired you to enter into the food industry in the first place.  My question now is: why aren’t you sharing that passion for creativity with your customers?

As you’re blogging for business, make sure that you are not treating the blog like an extended advertisement.  Focus on the creative and inspiring aspects of your food.  Kraft Recipes is a terrific food blog that has received CEM mention in the past.  It warrants multiple mentions, however, because it’s just that good at being creative.

Take a minute to look through the blog, and make some observations for yourself.  When I look at the Kraft blog, I see two things primarily.  One, Kraft focuses on simplicity and convenience.  Their target demographic, after all, is busy moms who want to feed their family healthy meals but don’t have a lot of time.  But, the second thing I notice is that Kraft is creative… all the way down to the way they photograph their recipes.

Even if you don’t think your customers are likely to do creative things with your products, successful food content marketing is almost always creative.  Of course, there’s an element of creativity in all blogging for business, but your food blog especially needs it!  A food blog without creativity is like a marketing blog that can’t market itself.

Rule #4 Food Is Social

Lastly, food is social.  We don’t have to see the frequently published studies to know that food is intricately connected to our social behaviors.  From the people we eat with to the activities that surround the meal, there’s a lot more to food than nutrition and gustatory pleasure!

That being said, why aren’t you treating your content marketing efforts with the same mentality?  From blogging about recipes that use your products to sharing your menu on Facebook, the social/sharing possibilities are endless.  One of my favorite restaurants here in Nashville, The Wild Cow, does a terrific job with their Facebook account.  Everyday, they post their specials, along with other content.  And, they don’t post early in the morning; they post shortly before the lunch hour, just when you’re starting to feel hungry, and your mind turns to lunch.  All content marketing is about timing, but that’s especially true when it comes to food.  Get them when they’re hungry!

Your Content Marketing

As always, Content Equals Money is here to help you.  However, you might want to do your content marketing yourself.  It’s your product, and your passion.  But, if we can help, we’re happy to do so!  Either way, remember these four rules: select the target audience, drive the visual, emphasize creativity, and be social!

What else are we missing?  What would you consider rule number five for food-specific content marketing?

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Ben Richardson is a writer based in Nashville, TN. While he loves writing on a variety of subjects, he's our go-to on all things related to branding and the creative aspects of content marketing. Follow him on Twitter!

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