Imagine you just made pasta. The sauce, the spices, and the pasta are in an unbreakable sync. The aroma has covered the entire kitchen, you are very proud of yourself for making a good dish. You get the first taste of the sauce, and start feeling hungrier and eagerly wait to have the delicious meal.
As you pick up the pan to put your food in a plate a rat runs over your feet, you panic, the pan slips out of your hands, you try to catch it, it slips more, you panic more, you shout no! And splatter!
And just like that all the hard work goes in the bin, literally. Something similar has happened to our socio-economic conditions in the past few months. The food industry was one of those hit the hardest. Everyone is wondering what next? Is there a way to reverse the damage?
The only thing one can do in such a situation is to go back and take things from the beginning. Understand the impacts these events will have on the future and prepare a strategy accordingly. One of the most important parts of the new, physically distant era would be digitisation. It would become the primary means to reach one’s audience and even serve them. So let’s start making the pasta again and understand how to survive in this unpredictable time.
Boiling the pasta: Laying out basic infrastructure
Have a basic aim for your planning- regaining customer confidence, boosting sales, and keeping everyone safe.
For this, you will have to add the salt of new CDC stated ground rules to the pasta so that the food prepared is sanitary and your employees are safe. Add a little oil in the mix to ensure social distancing of the individual pasta. And wear protective gear while taking the vessel down to avoid contact. Pass your pasta through the strainer of online ordering and delivery set-up and keep it aside till you prepare your digital sauce of communication.
Cooking the vegetables: Defining your communication
In these times, people are not relating to the product you are selling but on who you are and what you are doing to help.
Make the base of your strategy by building goodwill- This is the time to show your audience that you are sensitive to their problems and are trying your best to make your services reach them. The goodwill you build today will become your greatest asset in the future, like mixing the right spices in the butter. People are worried about their safety and hence, they need to be assured that you are following the right precautions to keep them safe.
Be transparent and available - Share your hassles and struggles with your customers, through social media or online campaigns. Even though your operations might be shut you want your audience to still be aware that you are someone and you are present.
Present your opinions- Relevant and relatable content is the bones of any successful marketing strategy. Know the trends that are coming up and post something relatable that your audience would want to read. Brands like Zomato and Swiggy are the perfect examples of how you can leverage social media and content to keep your audience engaged even when your services are not running.
Communicate the changes you are making- Have you started home delivery? Are you about to? Tell your audience. Even if you plan to keep the shop shut, communicate it to them so they can wait for you to get back in business.
Making the sauce: Retaining the existing customers and reaching a new audience
Remember that when this time passes people will be looking for new places to dine out. Online orders will increase rapidly and you have to ensure that they find you!
Start making your sauce by optimizing your website- Placement of photos, logos, tabs pages, and your content, everything should blend properly on your website. Remove the dead links, put up recent images, and display your offers, promos, and important announcements out loud. It is also better to get a CDC certification and to display it on your website you build trust when someone visits it. And if you don’t have a website it's highly recommended to start one.
Explore all corners of social media- Maybe you are a small café owner who currently does not have enough resources to start a website. Then you should have a strong social media presence. Many brands are sharing easy recipes and videos even on Tik Tok to reach new audiences. you can also check out Disney and Ikea’s social media handles.
Focus on SEO- New SEO trends are coming up. Spend some time in understanding how this could help your restaurant get more online traffic, or seek assistance from experts in this industry, like agencies. Currently, you can start with the basics as well if there is a budget limitation, and expand your reach later.
Find Influencers- Food bloggers, influencers, and partners can become a key to your survival post lockdown. And many of them just take a meal as payment. People will soon start scrolling food pages and websites to know which places they can explore to get some good food. Make sure your name is added to that list.
Lastly, set the mousetrap: Learning from the crisis and preparing for the worst
Many restaurants are making online delivery permanent along with dine-ins. Drive-through facilities, no-contact deliveries and many such innovative ways to continue the business will become popular in the coming times. The best way of dealing with uncertainties is to accept that they are constant and to explore creative ways of standing strong amid the crisis.
Digitisation will be the key that drives the future of all industries and it’s time for the food industry to give themselves a taste of the digital sauce too!