11 December 2020, 09:37 AM
  • New to digital marketing? Mallika Basu, food communications consultant and co-founder of SIZL Spices explains how independents can be sure they’re making the most of their online channels
5 pitfalls to avoid with online marketing

For food and drink brands and retailers, online marketing has opened a whole new world of opportunities this year. Savvy indies have used know-how and digital platforms with aplomb to build deeper connections with their customers, while the uninitiated have seen the light with digital and social channels.

For those that are still taking baby steps, what are some of the pitfalls to avoid when it comes to online marketing?

1. Don’t try to do everything
Digital or online marketing comprises a mix of features and options, including paid, owned and earned channels. Owned is everything you have control over, such as websites, newsletters and social media accounts. Earned channels are the media coverage, reviews, forwards and shares you receive, and paid includes online ads, Pay Per Click, and SEO.

Consider the full spectrum. Pick the mix that works best for you and your commercial goals, and then don’t over rely on any one element. If you expect all your sales to come from media articles, for instance, you may be bitterly disappointed.

Instead, think about how you can combine different elements, such as events, newsletters, public relations and strategic partnerships with brands and influencers, to drive your growth.

2. Don’t be everything to everyone
Have a narrow focus, and know who you’re targeting and what your story is. Then keep coming back to both, diligently and consistently.

If you try to please everyone, you please no one. One way to stay focused and relevant is to create a conversation and content calendar tracking major events with your business developments and milestones, to make sure you have a reference point to keep coming back to.

3. Don’t forget the customer comes first
Too many food and drink brands and businesses talk about their features and attributes, when the focus should also be on what their audience needs. You need to think about the “so what”.

Why does what you make matter to them? How do you improve their life? Online marketing provides lots of opportunities for conversations, dialogue and direct marketing so don’t just post “push” communications that promote and sell.

4. Don’t miss opportunities for engaging content
Once you’ve nailed your story and why it matters, make sure you create engaging content. This could be anything from a ‘food porn’ photo that makes you salivate, a fascinating fact, to a behind-the-scenes struggle that makes you more human, personal and likeable.

Awareness days, seasonal events and festivities are also useful as moments to capture an engaged audience. Seek inspiration from what works for your peers, but make sure you use your own personality and that laser-sharp focus to develop your own content.

5. Don’t post and ghost
Take time to engage, respond and react – that’s how you build a following and a loyal customer base. Also, don’t launch and leave. Having a constant drumbeat of marketing that you can ramp up when you have exciting news and developments will ensure that your brand visibility is strong.

Online marketing needs constant and consistent attention. Make space in your calendar to plan and schedule time for your posts, and spend more time responding to your followers and commenting on other posts than posting. If you’re too busy to do this, enlist the help of someone on your team or consider bringing in a third-party expert.

With an eye out for these pitfalls, remember that there is no substitute for time and steady attention. Just like Rome wasn’t built in a day, your shop or brand needs room and space to grow fans and following with targeted, strategic and long-term online marketing.

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