In a competitive industry like food service, effectively marketing your catering company can mean the difference between success and just getting by. With a ton of different ways to get word out about your business, it can be hard to make a game plan and know what the best strategy is.
We’ve distilled down some of the best ways to market your business below. Some of these may cost a bit, but many only require time and networking skills. There isn’t only one right way to market a catering business – you can choose what works best for your unique situation.
8 Ways to Market Your Catering Business
1. Optimize Your Website
Since many people start looking for a caterer with an online search, it’s essential that your website is optimized for search engines and stands out against the competition. When people search online for a caterer in your niche, you want to be sure to be one of the top results.
You can do this by using keywords and building out your website to be user-friendly, including on mobile. Keywords like your specific location, as well as the types of events you work and the food you serve will help search engines better categorize and index your site.
You’ll want it to look neat and professional, with all relevant information easy to find.
Use professional photos of your food and past events to show your style and get people interested. Use alternative text on the images with keywords to further help optimize your site for search engines.
Additionally, you can create useful content for visitors that also serves to boost your SEO. For example, you could start a blog with recipes, put together downloadable checklists and menus for customers, or create a series of videos that can help lead more people to your site. These can help people find your business organically through online searches, which can increase your customer base.
2. Enhance Your Social Media Presence
As a caterer, social media is a great way to market and present your food and services in a visual way. Instagram and Facebook, in particular, are the best tools for caterers as they are photo-focused.
Posting regularly and building a following takes time, but having a robust social media presence can help take your business to the next level. Use your social media to promote special offers and discounts, have giveaways, and share business successes and customer testimonials with your followers.
You can also use paid social media tools to promote your services. Boosting posts and creating paid ads are a great way to track engagement and target your business to specific users. These can be an affordable way to dip your toes into paid marketing campaigns without devoting too much money or energy.
Nurturing soft leads through social media, without hard selling, can help build brand recognition and show off what you can do. It’s also a great way to engage with customers regularly, answer their questions, and be present so they think of you when they need a caterer.
3. Use Email Marketing
Email marketing can be a great technique to grow your business without much cost. With email marketing services like Mailchimp or Sendinblue, you can even get started for free.
Email marketing is a great way to remind existing customers of your business and show potential customers what you’re made of. You can create a list of people that have used your services in the past or signed up on a landing page on your website. Not every email needs to go to everyone, but should only go to those most relevant or likely to convert.
With email marketing, you can craft short email newsletters, offer deals and discounts, share exciting business news, and more. It’s always a balancing act, as too many emails can come across as spammy, but too few won’t have much of an impact. Generally, aim for 2-4 a month, but make sure they are eye-catching and worth opening.
4. Improve Your Payment System
Optimizing your payment system can have a big impact on your marketing efforts. People want to work with well-organized businesses that offer convenience and simplicity.
Having a disorganized payment system or only accepting checks or cash can hugely limit the scope of your work. Many customers want to pay with more convenient payment methods, like credit cards or digital wallets.
As a full payment infrastructure, Pay.com can help your business accept a variety of payment methods. Through the easy-to-use dashboard, you can send direct Pay Links to clients or take their payment info over the phone. This can boost business and enhance customer experience.
5. Build a Professional Network
A great way to market your business as a caterer is to network with other event professionals like wedding planners and venue space directors. Building these relationships can help grow your business, as these professionals are likely to recommend your services to their customers.
Venues, in particular, often have preferred vendor lists they can provide for their own clients, and you want to be on these lists. You may even be able to build out joint deals or packages for potential clients to sweeten the deal for them, while guaranteeing business for you.
Don’t only focus on venue owners or event planners though – seek out complimentary businesses. This might include florists, photographers, event equipment rental companies, or even entertainers. Since many catering clients also hire these services, being able to share and promote each other’s business can be mutually beneficial.
6. Go to Trade Shows
Event trade shows are a great way to market your services and show off your tasty food. Depending on your niche, you can find specific trade shows (like wedding expos) or more general ones for event professionals. Cook up some samples and set up a booth to bring in new customers.
While trade shows often cost money to attend, they are a great opportunity to put yourself in front of customers and offer up your food so they have a little taste. If they like the food, they’re more likely to come back for your services.
Participating in trade shows can also help you better understand what your competitors might be doing or how you can further set your services apart. You can talk to potential customers and learn more about their wants and needs, while scoping out other caterers and watching how they engage with customers.
7. Attend Community Events
While trade shows can help get you in front of other event professionals (and some enthusiastic customers), they don’t help show off your skills to everyday people. It’s always a good idea to seek out opportunities in your community to provide samples or cook for others.
If there are fairs, festivals, or farmers’ markets, get a permit for a booth. If charities or community groups need food, offer discounted (or even free) services to help out the group, while also promoting your services. It will be great PR for your business and help build a sense of community camaraderie.
Marketing in person and presenting your food and services in person can have a huge positive impact for your business. You have the ability to chat with customers, feel out their specific needs, and show your business as a community-oriented leader – a win-win.
8. Get Referrals and Testimonials
While paid marketing may bring in more customers over time, there is no better free marketing than word-of-mouth, especially for newer businesses. Ask friends and family if they can help pass along your information to their co-workers or other friends.
You can also try to leverage your past customers. If you work weddings, for example, a couple may know others who are getting married or thinking about it. If they liked your services, they’ll probably be more than happy to recommend you. Customers are more likely to trust you if someone they know has used and liked your services.
You can also ask customers to leave reviews or provide you with testimonials to build up your reputation. While testimonials on your site are good, also encourage customers to leave positive reviews on places like Google or Yelp. This can help build up your brand reputation and offer valuable information to potential customers that want to know they can trust you.
What’s the Best Way for Your Catering Business to Accept Payments?
When you’re catering multiple events with a ton of different moving pieces and potential add-ons, it’s important to be able to accept a variety of payment methods and track all your transactions.
With Pay.com, you aren’t limited to just one payment method. You can provide your customers with several payment method options including digital wallets, credit cards, and ACH transfers, to make the payment process easy and convenient for them.
Pay.com allows you to easily send out direct Pay Links or even accept payments over the phone. This is a convenient and secure way to get paid without hassle for you or your customers, especially for larger or more complex catering orders.
The Bottom Line: How Should You Market Your Catering Business?
Marketing your catering business can take time and effort, but with the right mindset, you’ll be able to see the positive impact on your business. Don’t be afraid to try different tactics as your business grows.
Since catering is about flavor and presentation, the best ways to market your business are the ones that show off your abilities. Using your website and social media to promote your style and your menu can help get eyes on your business. Going to trade shows or expos can also be a great way to promote your food.
You’ll also want to optimize your payment system to provide potential clients with all the convenience they need. When you sign up for an account with Pay.com, you can easily invoice your clients and accept multiple payment methods.