For many small food businesses, the challenge in marketing – and especially social media marketing – is in not knowing what to say. What can I share, they think, that could be interesting about what I do. So I thought I’d give you an example of how you can take something simple and turn it into something shareable.
I chose an artichoke because it’s a quirky kind of vegetable. Not everyone is familiar with artichokes and most people who do know them only know them as canned artichoke hearts thrown into a dip. But the artichoke is so much more! Here’s an example of some questions that might be interesting facts to share with your audience.
- How do you cook an artichoke?
- Can you eat them raw?
- What is that “choke” stuff?
- If you’re a chef, how did you first discover artichokes?
- What’s that sauce I get when I order an artichoke in a restaurant?
- Where is the heart of the artichoke?
- Where is the artichoke capital of the world? (There is one, you know – it’s Castroville, California, complete with an artichoke festival, the world’s largest artificial artichoke, and producer of 75% of the US artichoke supply. )
- Do you have a funny story about learning how to take an artichoke apart for eating?
- Do artichokes grow on a tree?
- Did you know there’s a company in the UK called Artichoke, whose stated aim is to “work with artists to create extraordinary, large-scale events that appeal to the widest possible audience?”
Any of these answers is easily shared as a Facebook post, a tweet, or even an artichoke photo on Pinterest.
The point is, even if you think you have nothing to write about, you probably do. It may be a matter of shifting your viewpoint and thinking outside the proverbial box. It’s so important to remember that the knowledge that you have is not shared by everyone. And the people who are interested in what you know may also be interested in your product or service, too.
What you’re doing is putting yourself out there a bit, letting people get to know your personality and feel a connection with you. This is the real goal of social media for business –a way to build a relationship with a potential customer, client, or partner.
Use this post to spark your own ideas about some aspect of your business – and hey, if you’ve got a new way to prepare an artichoke, leave a comment!
Why such an appeal?
Well, I am a copywriter, marketer, and business storyteller. Case studies, social media, online video are all a great way to market your business in a way that’s very accessible to your readers/viewers.
Tell me a story….
It’s part of the human experience. I remember when I was growing up, my dad used to tell these elaborate stories about me and my siblings in all different adventures. He’d give the characters a slightly different name from ours, one that rhymed with our names, and we’d say, “Oh, Dad, that’s me.” “No, no, he’d say, this girl is “Maren,” not “Karen.” It’s a great memory of childhood and also illustrates the great marketing principle of “what’s in it for me?” My dad had my attention because he was talking about me, to me, and telling a story about me. And I was interested, attentive, engaged.
Which is what we want in the people with whom we’re forming business relationships—customers, prospects, clients, etc.
And I want this blog to center around food, and food “stuff” and food “business” and food “people” and most of what I have to share is stories that I’m finding on these topics. Some I’ll write and some I’ll link to – let’s see how it goes!
So here’s my first story:
My father grew up in Honolulu and his family used to host regular neighborhood potlucks where people would come to play music, visit with neighbors, and eat! One of the favorite recipes of these potlucks were my grandfather’s teriyaki ribs and it was the sauce that made it so special. This recipe was passed down to my father, who used it to impress his future-in-laws in West Virginia as he was courting my mom. Later, I wowed friends in California with my teriyaki ribs, one brother shared with all his river rafting friends in WV, and my youngest brother even bottled the sauce and gave it away as holiday gifts. That brother heard for years from people, “Hey, if you ever decide to bottle this stuff, I’ll be your first customer.” And finally he decided to do something about it – and Truly Hawaiian Teriyaki Sauce was born. My brother entered into an agreement with Fresh Market, so the sauce is co-branded with Fresh Market’s TFT private label and selling in the Fresh Market chain – hooray! (We also sell it under our own label at select retail locations.)
And the sauce is wonderful, addicting, ono loa (Hawaiian for very delicious)! But one of the elements that got this product launched is our story. We market the sauce as “an original Hawaiian family recipe passed down for over 100 years and counting! So our marketing encompasses this story. There are photographs on the website of my father and grandfather playing music at a neighborhood gathering, and one of me as a four-year old holding onto a sparerib for dear life!
Stories are a way to connect with people and I think many businesses are missing a huge opportunity to share stories with their customers and clients. Gee, maybe I can help…
There are a lot of reasons why I like the whole concept of farm-to-table, or farm-to-fork, or sustainable agriculture, or locavore – whatever you want to call it. Although I’m not anywhere near the point where I want to start growing my own food, I do appreciate knowing where the food comes from, knowing that I’m supporting my local economy whenever possible, and I like the idea that there’s a whole new generation of farmers picking up where their grandparents or great-grandparents (figuratively, not necessarily literally!) left off. This interesting article, from the Entrepreneur’s September, 2011 issue explains the benefits of farm-to-table for some local economies in unexpected places.