BY MALEBOGO MODIAKGOTLA
Every once in a while, people tend to plan a wonderful evening out with friends, family or their significant other. No matter what the special occasion may be, the one thing we look forward to is that amazing gourmet dish prepared by the talented chef at your preferred restaurant. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, eating out was a regular routine for most people around the world but the effects of the pandemic have hit the food industry drastically. Regardless of this hard- hitting reality, food consciousness is at an all time high, so well trained professionals are in demand. The industry promotes from within, so if you want to advance, don’t get hung up on fancy French monikers. Instead, find your culinary niche and tackle it with passion and enthusiasm.
Now that you’ve honed your culinary skills, you have the enthusiasm and passion, what’s the next step? How does a talented chef begin to brand him/herself and build longevity in this new world?
Here’s a step-by-step guide of how a digital marketing strategy for a chef can lift off a chef from beginner to popular.
HOW TO CREATE A SENSATIONAL DIGITAL MARKETING STRATEGY FOR A CHEF
1. DEFINE YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE/PERSONAS
Just like in any other industry, the key point when beginning to plan your digital marketing strategy is to know who your target audience is. A professional chef is always aligned with a specific type of restaurant, whether it be a 5-star gourmet restaurant or an institutional restaurant. To gain recognition in the food industry, their target audience needs to be defined and focused upon to build their brand. An example of a chef’s target audience would be:
Gender: Male and female
Age: 21 – 55 years old
Lifestyle: Outgoing, enjoys fine dining, knows different types of wine, champagne, etc.
Average income: $4000 per month
2. BE A GREAT LEADER AND MANAGER
Every successful chef needs to be able to lead and manage a team of kitchen staff in order to create an environment that exudes his/her talent. The longevity and popularity of a chef comes from how he/she interacts with his/her staff, but more so, his/her customers.
3. SET YOUR GOALS AND OBJECTIVES
The importance of setting goals and objectives is imperative for a chef as these keep the chef from straying away into different directions. The goals established would be divided into short-term and long-term goals which are in line with his/her vision. Examples of some of the goals a chef would set would be:
- To attract new leads/customers to your business.
- To gain recognition in the food industry.
- To build brand awareness of services offered.
- To ensure the effective operation of the kitchen and departmental functions through the provision of team management and service delivery.
- Lead, develop, manage and motivate a high performing team.
- Create and deliver innovative and premium menu offers across his/her portfolio.
- Maintain and continuously improve the high standards of the meals prepared.
- Increase brand engagement by 20 percent every quarter of each year.
4. UNDERSTAND HOW YOUR TOP LINE INCREASES YOUR BOTTOM LINE
A chef’s primary role is to constantly find ways to improve the sales line. Some of the ways this can be done is by finding ways to increase traffic to his/her restaurant or by building check averages through effective menu planning, costing strategies, and taking part in effective front-of-the-house training programs to drive upselling. A common way to measure whether the bottom line is successful is by using Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).
Examples of these KPIs that can to be used are:
- All kitchens and store areas are maintained to the highest level of cleanliness at all times.
- A 5 stars rating across the business is retained from EHO Authority inspections and a ‘pass’ awarded from annual Safeguard audits.
- A minimum of 4 star rating is retained in “Trip Advisor”.
- The kitchen operation is resourced in line with business objectives.
- All menus are freshly prepared and incorporate seasonal produce.
- Menus reflect superior culinary standards and innovation.
- Food service is delivered in line with cruise timing objectives.
- Food purchasing is carried out in line with company policy and monthly spend does not exceed budgeted percentage of sales cost.
- All team members receive mandatory training and PDP’s are implemented.
- Weekly departmental operation meetings and daily shift briefings are conducted.
- A departmental standards manual is devised and maintained.
- All departmental administration is completed accurately and in a timely manner.
- All Food Safety and Health & Safety documentation are maintained.
- Menu tastings are carried out for private events.
- Staff performance is effectively managed.
- Operational processes and procedures are strengthened and formalized.
5. STRATEGIES TO BUILDING A 5-STAR CHEF’S BRAND
There are many avenues that can be used to implement a chef’s digital marketing strategy. Listed below are a few ways these can be achieved.
- Make sure that a chef has strong communications skills as well as talent and training.
- Include a biography on the menu, and post information on the website and social media pages.
- Issue press releases to promote yourself.
- As a chef, consider giving talks, interviews, demonstrations or cooking classes during hours when the restaurant is usually closed.
- When possible, encourage the chef to circulate through the dining room as often as possible.
- Choose a signature look for the chef whether it be traditional, colourful or edgy.
- Prepare short and long biographies, photos and branded visuals to accompany press releases, social media posts and requests for information.
- Focus on characteristics that distinguish a chef such as culinary training, years of experience, apprenticeship with a food celebrity, work in a high-profile market or strong personality.
- Throw events where the chef demonstrates cooking innovative or popular dishes on a menu.
- Build an interactive and customized website that details your biography, your mission, vision and values, your contact details, your achievements, as well as a gallery page of your signature dishes.
- Social Media Platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and YouTube are a few great social media apps that can boost your brand recognition. Creating a fan page on Facebook and using Facebook Ads is a great way to build your brand to greater heights and track the success rate of strategy. Adding promotional videos on YouTube by creating a YouTube brand account is another way to turn your talent into a household name.
- Email marketing and Content marketing – CONTENT IS KING! Always keep the content on your digital media platforms fresh, intriguing and engaging.
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – Search engines prefer websites with a constant supply of fresh, new content.
- Paid Advertising and Google My Business – Google My Business puts your business or brand on the global map increasing your visibility to customers that are searching for your type of skills and expertise.
- Blog – A blog is one of the most cost-effective business tools one can find. As a chef you can use your blog to drive traffic, establish authority in your industry, improve your SEO, link building, etc.
6. CONSISTENCY… CONSISTENCY… AND MORE CONSISTENCY!
Lastly, to remain relevant you need to be consistent in every aspect that involves building your brand online. Keep posting weekly, respond to customer reviews, engage with your current customers, continue improving your cooking skill, share new thoughts and ideas with your fans, and most of all, continue to maintain a high standard of your brand.
Now that we have covered the steps on how to create a successful digital marketing strategy for a chef, it’s time to put in the work and strive for excellence. Let your brand reflect your vision and most of all…let your brand forever marinade in your customer’s hearts.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Malebogo Modiakgotla is a Media Studies graduate and an intern at The International Institute of Digital Marketing. who resides in Johannesburg, South Africa. With several years of experience in the media industry, she has begun her journey into the digital world, with the hope of gaining extensive knowledge in this field.