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B2B Social Media for Food Ingredient Marketers Part 2

Part one of our series on B2B social media for food ingredient marketers highlighted how social media use among food ingredient companies has skyrocketed in the last five years. In part two of the series, we will explore the food ingredient industry’s use of B2B social media and the key audiences to connect with online.

With the sheer number of individuals using social media, and the fact that it is used for professional and personal engagements, it can be hard to identify who’s out there. When it comes to B2B food industry social media use, there are many professionals using LinkedIn and Twitter as their primary social media platforms:

  • Your competition
  • Your customers
  • Your customers’ consumers
  • Trade media publishers and editors
  • Industry associations

When it comes to selling your ingredients, there are a number of individuals from your customer companies who have an influence on what ingredients are included in their products. You’ve got to look beyond purchasing and communicate and engage with your customers and target audience enterprise-wide. Engaging with individuals enterprise-wide means you have to market your product in such a way that is relevant to each audience.

enterprise-widecommunications

  • C-Suite Executives – may not be directly involved in the purchasing of ingredients, but are overarching influencers of what ingredients are incorporated into their products.
  • Purchasing – influenced by cost, supply chain and food safety.
  • Marketing Executives – look at the benefits and advantages of using ingredients in their products to help them market and sell their finished goods.
  • Research Chefs – are interested in food trends, culinary arts and the science of food.
  • Innovation Experts – focused on trends and what consumers are looking for as well as what new technologies are available to enhance their products or develop new applications.
  • Food Scientists – look for information regarding food safety, quality, developing new formulations and applications.

Most of these individuals are active on social media every day. They participate on Twitter as well as on LinkedIn by sharing news articles, food industry trends and information about their company’s latest innovations. Most of these individuals engage in discussion by using relevant hashtags in their Tweets and also by commenting on LinkedIn Pulse Posts and LinkedIn group discussions that are relevant to their business. They gather information from social media to help guide them on their purchasing decisions and product development. That’s why it’s important for food ingredient marketers to use B2B social media—it’s where their audience is. Using social media as another communication platform keeps your message and brand top of mind.

In part three of our series on B2B social media for food ingredient marketers, we will share the steps food ingredient marketers can take to launch a social media plan as part of an integrated marketing plan. Until then, we would love to hear how your company is using social media to target and engage with individual influencers.

Salt Swap Initiative is Leading the Way in Australia’s Sodium Reduction

Recently we received a newsletter from Nu-Tek Salt Australasia—Nu-Tek Food Science’s Australasia partner— highlighting a new program, Drop the Salt Lithgow and its exciting health initiative, Salt Swap Lithgow. This program has been featured in the Lithgow Mercury news and is supported by The George Institute for Global Health, Lithgow City Council, local business and Nu-Tek Food Science, to help address Australia’s excessive salt consumption levels.

Pictured (from left to right): Jason Cummings, Nu-Tek Salt Australasia; Lithgow Black Panther; Maree Statham, Lithgow mayor; and Mary-Anne Land, The George Institute for Global Health.
Pictured (from left to right): Jason Cummings, Nu-Tek Salt Australasia; Lithgow Black Panther; Maree Statham, Lithgow mayor; and Mary-Anne Land, The George Institute for Global Health.

The Salt Swap initiative is an innovative campaign to reduce salt intake by “swapping” household table salt for Salt for Life™ Sea Salt Blend—a new sea salt blend with 70 percent less sodium than table salt. The campaign also includes reformulation of locally produced processed foods and using the FoodSwitch Smartphone application to help people make better food choices in the supermarket.

Drop the Salt Lithgow aims to reduce salt intake by 10 percent and is part of a broader initiative—supported by the World Health Organization (WHO)—seeking to identify scalable and sustainable salt-reduction policies that can be applied nationally and internationally.

To learn more about the Drop the Salt Lithgow community initiative and to join in their discussions, “Like” their Facebook page.

New iTi Tropicals YouTube Channel: A Great Source for Information on Exotic Tropical Fruits

iTi Tropicals has launched a YouTube channel for food product developers that contains lively and informative videos—providing an in-depth look at some of the on-trend and timely issues regarding popular tropical fruits being used in various food and beverage formulations and applications.

iTi Tropicals - YouTube

“Our new YouTube channel will allow us to share our worldwide knowledge on exotic tropical fruits with our customers and industry friends,” said Gert van Manen, president of iTi Tropicals.  Some of the new videos on the iTi Tropicals YouTube channel are:

– Guava – The Video—a five-minute overview of the Chiveria guava fruit that begins on the largest plantation in Ecuador and shows details of the sustainable farming and harvesting practices behind this premium fruit. The video also includes information on processing and production along with packaging of the Chiveria guava in convenient forms like purees, concentrates and essences flavored by product developers for a variety of food and beverage applications.

– Foodnews Juice Asia Address on Coconut Water Product Purity and Sustainability—the video of van Manen’s speech to the May 2013 symposium in Bangkok, Thailand, covers current coconut water trends including issues of ethical sourcing, sustainability and authenticity.

– Red Dragon Fruit Plantation in Thailand—a video showing what a red dragon fruit plantation looks like.

– Coconut Water and Coconut Meat—a lab demonstration showing how to utilize coconut meat for coconut water applications.

“We plan to introduce new videos on a regular basis that will feature more information on the variety of exotic tropical fruits available to product developers from around the world,” said van Manen. “We hope our customers and friends will visit the YouTube channel often to see our latest offerings.”

The iTi Tropicals YouTube channel is available at http://www.youtube.com/user/iTitropicalsInc.

Chiquita Fruit Solutions is Spinnovating

Chiquita Spinnovator

To help promote fresh ideas in fruit flavors, Chiquita Fruit Solutions launched their online interactive tool, the Chiquita SpinnovatorTM, at the RCA show in Charlotte, NC back in March.

Housed on the Chiquita Fruit Solutions website, the Spinnovator allows users to experiment and open their imaginations to develop unique applications using Chiquita’s five fruit ingredients: banana, passion fruit, mango, pineapple and papaya.

The first step to the Spinnovator is selecting a fruit ingredient—the inner wheel. Based on the fruit ingredient you’ve selected, the middle wheel populates a colorful arrangement of flavors that complement the fruit ingredient. The outer wheel has a multitude of top-trending applications to choose from that are broken out by meal and daypart categories: Breakfast, Entrée (Lunch/Dinner), Side, Dessert, Beverage and Condiment.

Another feature of the Spinnovator is the random spin. If you’re looking for a specific application or flavor, you can lock the applicable wheel on your selection and let the wheel spin its way to something innovative. If you’re inspired by what you’ve created, you can save it to a list and email it to yourself or share it through social media.

Visit the Chiquita Fruit Solutions website to Spinnovate a fresh idea and comment below on what unique application has opened your imagination.

 

Favorite Chefs on the Internet

“Chefs are incredibly important future leaning reflectors of where food flavors, preparation and health are headed. Chefs are the food educators of our time.” That’s according to Food Culture 2012, a report from the Hartman Group. Chefs have always played an important role in new food product development and their role in the commercial ingredient channels of the food industry has continued to grow. We previously wrote about a trade show hit for Sunkist Growers who featured a celebrity chef’s new dishes at the PMA Show in California.

ChefTwitterLarge

Chefs have also taken a leading role in using the Internet to communicate with their fans and followers as well as with their peers and colleagues. We see leading chefs everywhere on Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and of course the ubiquitous Facebook. Recently we posted a tweet to our Twitter feed @markhughesfood that asked the question “Who is your favorite chef on Twitter?” The tweet drew far more comments, re-tweets and favorites than normal. In response, here are our favorite chefs on the Internet:

Mario Batali

Molto Mario uses a great recipe for his Internet activity and gets terrific online engagement from his fans and peers. His main website has rich and varied content on his various properties and projects including links to all his social media platforms. But it’s on Twitter where the chef really shines. His Twitter feed @mariobatali is a lively blend of recipe tips and answers to fans questions about various dishes. His Twitter feed also contains his recommendations for ingredients and favorite haunts. The sheer volume of Chef Batali’s tweets suggest he has help with this, but the comments never lose the personality and charm that people expect from Mario.

Robert Danhi

Chef Robert Danhi is off on an adventure to search out great flavors and tastes and uses the Internet to effectively report on his progress and share his discoveries with friends and followers. His main website offers rich content on his focus of Asian dishes and local flavors. A companion site offers products and more content on Southeast Asian flavors. The chef’s Twitter handle is, of course,@chefdanhitweets and he actively uses Twitter to send greetings to friends and colleagues from his travels around the globe. He is also very generous with his time and knowledge, often sharing content with food bloggers and reporters. Here’s a recent local article from Rasa Malaysia on “Cooking with Chef Robert Danhi.

Jacques Pepin

Jacques Pepin is, simply put, my favorite chef anywhere. So of course, that includes the Internet. Chef Pepin’s La Technique has held an honored spot in my kitchen for 25 years and I continue to use it today. It continues to be one of the all-time best selling cook books. Chef Pepin has a robust presence on the Internet mainly through his instructional videos. Here’s one for a very Pepin-like omelet. His videos cover a wide range of ingredients and finished dishes and are all presented in the chef’s calm and self-assured voice and style. According to a recent NY Times article, when it comes to food preparation, “There is the wrong way and there is Jacques Pepin’s way.

We love all chefs on the Internet. These three are our favorites. Who is your favorite Chef on the Internet?

Free Webinar: New Technologies in Sodium Reduction

New Technologies

Food Business News is hosting a free webinar on Wednesday, Sept. 26 at 2 p.m. CDT, sponsored by Nu-Tek Food Science which will highlight consumer viewpoints regarding sodium levels and the latest technologies in sodium reduction in the marketplace. Pending regulations and growing consumer demand are quickly increasing the need for lower-sodium products.
Register for and attend this webinar to listen to industry experts: Josh Sosland, from Food Business News; Marjorie Troxel-Helmer, from Cypress Research; Dr. Sam Rao, from Nu-Tek Food Science; Gary Cain, from Cain Food Industries, Inc. and Don Mower, from Nu-Tek Food Science, as they discuss the latest technologies in sodium reduction for specific applications including bakery and snack, meat and poultry, and cheese and dairy, and how it could help you meet your sodium-reduction goals.
The webinar will include:

  • Market Summary – A brief review of current trends
  • Consumer Attitudes – Consumer concerns about salt
  • New Sodium Reduction Technologies – New technology developments
  • Evaluating Sodium Reduction Options – Criteria for evaluating product options
  • Recent Application Success Stories
  • Questions & Answer

We hope you can attend, and if you do, feel free to leave us a comment below on what these new technologies in sodium reduction can do to help you meet your company’s sodium-reduction goals.

 

 

Social Media Marketing Best Practices from Kretchmar’s Bakery

Baking Channel - BakeThe Baking Channel on bakemag.com recently launched a social media video that featured Kretchmar’s Bakery from Beaver, PA. This video is a part of their tour, Discovering America’s Bakeries.

Lincoln Kretchmar, of Kretchmar’s Bakery, discussed why his company invested in social media and also shared some best practices he follows regarding social media marketing:

  • Social media is great for marketing and branding and can help build up your image.
  • It is a cost-effective way to communicate effectively with customers.
  • Post frequently—Kretchmar’s Bakery currently posts at least once a week.
  • Social media can be ineffective if done wrong—only post things that are engaging to your audience. It is about what is pertinent to your customers, not necessarily what is pertinent to you.

By following these best practices, Kretchmar’s Bakery has been effective in building relationships with its customers and increasing the bakery’s brand exposure. We’d love to hear what social media marketing best practices you follow and the success you’ve had. Leave us a comment below!

California Raisins Hold Fifth Annual Contest

California Raisin

California Raisins are back again with their successful, annual America’s Best Raisin Bread Contest. This year marks the fifth year for professional and student bakers to submit up to three original raisin bread formulas into the contest.

As you may have read in our previous blog posts regarding their annual contest, this year, rather than use video marketing to promote their event, California Raisin sent an email with photos of last years category and grand prize winners. This is a great way to encourage participation from bakers and student bakers as it showcases their peers, and gives them the inspiration and determination to be one of the nine winners to receive industry recognition for their work, as well as a five-day trip to sunny California.

California Raisin has done a great job of using fresh marketing tactics year over year to help promote their America’s Best Raisin Bread Contest. We’d love to hear about the different marketing tactics you’re using to promote your events. Leave us a comment below!

 

America’s Best Bakery Contest from bake Magazine

bake Magazine

bake magazine recently held a contest to find America’s best bakery. The contest included six bakery finalists who were chosen by the bake editorial team.

Each bakery owner created a short video where they talked about what they felt made their bakery the best in America. For example, Dan Busken, from Busken Bakery, felt the transparency in management was something of value to share with voters. Rather than discuss what products the bakery offers, Busken shared how he keeps his employees informed by holding an annual company meeting. In another video, Dennis Meyer, from Das Meyer Fine Pastry Chalet, used his video to show how his bakery creates their macaroon sushi pastry. Meyer’s video was very different from Busken’s because it had more of a “baking show” feel.

This contest was a great tool to support the “best” bakeries across the country and provide them the chance to showcase what truly makes them the best. Even though the main goal for bake magazine was to find America’s best bakery, they also acknowledged the readers who voted by enrolling them into a drawing for a free iPad 2. The polls closed March 31, and the winner of the America’s Best Bakery Contest will be announced in the magazine’s May issue.

Our Favorite Chefs on the Internet

“Chefs are incredibly important future leaning reflectors of where food flavors, preparation and health are headed. Chefs are the food educators of our time.” That’s according to Food Culture 2012, a report from the Hartman Group. Chefs have always played an important role in new food product development and their role in the commercial ingredient channels of the food industry has continued to grow. We previously wrote about a trade show hit for Sunkist Growers who featured a celebrity chef’s new dishes at the PMA Show in California.

ChefTwitterLarge

Chefs have also taken a leading role in using the Internet to communicate with their fans and followers as well as with their peers and colleagues. We see leading chefs everywhere on Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and of course the ubiquitous Facebook. Recently we posted a tweet to our Twitter feed @markhughesfood that asked the question “Who is your favorite chef on Twitter?” The tweet drew far more comments, re-tweets and favorites than normal. In response, here are our favorite chefs on the Internet:

Mario Batali

Molto Mario uses a great recipe for his Internet activity and gets terrific online engagement from his fans and peers. His main website has rich and varied content on his various properties and projects including links to all his social media platforms. But it’s on Twitter where the chef really shines. His Twitter feed @mariobatali is a lively blend of recipe tips and answers to fans questions about various dishes. His Twitter feed also contains his recommendations for ingredients and favorite haunts. The sheer volume of Chef Batali’s tweets suggest he has help with this, but the comments never lose the personality and charm that people expect from Mario.

Robert Danhi

Chef Robert Danhi is off on an adventure to search out great flavors and tastes and uses the Internet to effectively report on his progress and share his discoveries with friends and followers. His main website offers rich content on his focus of Asian dishes and local flavors. A companion site offers products and more content on Southeast Asian flavors. The chef’s Twitter handle is, of course,@chefdanhitweets and he actively uses Twitter to send greetings to friends and colleagues from his travels around the globe. He is also very generous with his time and knowledge, often sharing content with food bloggers and reporters. Here’s a recent local article from Rasa Malaysia on “Cooking with Chef Robert Danhi.

Jacques Pepin

Jacques Pepin is, simply put, my favorite chef anywhere. So of course, that includes the Internet. Chef Pepin’s La Technique has held an honored spot in my kitchen for 25 years and I continue to use it today. It continues to be one of the all-time best selling cook books. Chef Pepin has a robust presence on the Internet mainly through his instructional videos. Here’s one for a very Pepin-like omelet. His videos cover a wide range of ingredients and finished dishes and are all presented in the chef’s calm and self-assured voice and style. According to a recent NY Times article, when it comes to food preparation, “There is the wrong way and there is Jacques Pepin’s way.

We love all chefs on the Internet. These three are our favorites. Who is your favorite Chef on the Internet?

Social Media for Food Ingredient Marketers

Over the past year, we have seen more and more food manufacturers and ingredient marketers starting to use social media.  In fact, we have connected online with hundreds of food industry executives, marketers, R&D professionals, research chefs and innovative culinary types through sites like LinkedIn and Twitter.  And yet we still hear from many food ingredient companies that they are hesitant to get started in social media and have concerns about how to use social media sites and tools.

The-Thank-You-EconomyIn his wonderful book on social media interaction, “The Thank You Economy,” Gary Vaynerchuk addresses many of these concerns head-on.  Here is our take on some of the more relevant concerns for food marketers.

Are you concerned that someone in the B2B space is never going to interact with you online? Why not? They are still human beings—with the desire for emotional connections, strong relationships and quality engagement. Business transactions are ultimately about goodwill and trust. And social media is one of the best channels to display this. Your customers have smart phones, and personal Twitter and Facebook pages. So why wouldn’t they interact with you online?

Are you stuck because your boss needs to know the ROI and you aren’t able to measure this? Consider this: can you measure the ROI of a handshake, of a first impression, of an employee who went out of his/her way to make something right for a customer? No, but do you expect this level of interaction to take place in your business? Of course!

Are you concerned that you don’t have the time to manage or monitor it?  Think about how you are currently allocating your resources.  Can you identify somewhere you aren’t spending your money wisely?  Consider taking that money and hiring a firm like Anderson Partners to help you with strategy and execution.

Ultimately, you can’t afford not to invest in a social media strategy. The benefits may not be noticed immediately but will be noticed long term; you will have greater brand awareness, stronger brand loyalty, increased word of mouth, improved understanding of your customer needs and direct access to customer feedback. Plus, it’s your customer’s access to the authentic you. Get out there and get started already.

LinkedIn Groups Offer Industry Networking

imagesLinkedIn groups are typically created in an effort to provide a forum for like-minded people to interact and network. What if an ingredient company created a group open to the public that was specific to its company (products/services) or was specific to a product category (like flour)? I haven’t seen any companies taking this approach, but I think it’s a great opportunity.

This is the idea behind our successful LinkedIn group, Food Ingredient Marketing Communications (FIMC). This group has attracted hundreds of industry professionals, including senior marketing executives, R&D leaders and culinary innovators.

The content for these groups is endless. Post about new product introductions, recipe and application ideas, how to address technical issues, benefits of specific ingredients, etc. At first the group may be more of a push strategy, but eventually, as potential customers join the group your customers will start to participate in the conversation. Ideally they would post on a problem they’ve been experiencing, an ingredient they’ve been looking for, an application solution they’ve been missing, etc.

Not only will you build a database of quality potential customers you will be able to respond to them one-on-one, make an acquaintance and hopefully create some business. Like any social media approach ROI will not be immediate. By addressing your audiences’ needs, you prove to them that you are transparent and reachable. And you will probably learn something you never knew about your product/service, allowing you to either come up with something even better or decide to fix the issue.

New Ingredients Web Portal Has Social Connections

seewhatsworking2Anderson Partners Food Ingredients has launched a new web portal that connects online industry content with rich social media connections and delivers a valuable new resource for food ingredient marketing executives. With both standard and mobile versions, the portal provides a convenient way to access ingredient news, trends and discussions—all in one place.

We created our first portal as a landing page to support a QR-code promotion that we launched at IFT 2011. The response was very positive, so we built the new portal to provide our clients and our industry friends with even better access to our content.

The industry news feeds follow all the biggest food manufacturing customer companies. Our blog tracks important trends, and features examples of recent marketing communication programs from the major ingredient suppliers. Social media channels offer robust discussions with marketing executives, R&D leaders and culinary innovators.

The portal links multiple platforms together. There are two Twitter feeds, one from @APFI that features industry news, while @markhughesfood offers trends and commentary. Our LinkedIn discussion group Food Ingredient Marketing Communications (FIMC) connects to hundreds of industry executives. The main website provides a library of industry best practices and examples. Our goal is to provide a rich resource that ingredient marketers can use to make their programs work even better.

Take a look and let us know what you think. You can access the portal at http://www.andersonpartners.com/seewhatsworking/.

New Functional Egg Site Showcases Videos

FunctionalEggHome2High five to the American Egg Board and Shelly McKee, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Poultry Science at Auburn University, their new website found at functionalegg.org! This website features six videos for food formulators that highlight the functional properties of egg products, including aeration, coagulation, emulsification, foaming and crystallization control. Videos can be such an engaging and informative tool in your marketing mix, and they are often overlooked. Which is why I’m excited to see a food ingredient company utilizing them.

Here is my honest analysis of the site.

Positives:

  • Great use of a mini-website to distribute a targeted message.
  • The site is very clean, easy to follow and not bombarded with text.
  • The video content itself is great, with great intent.
  • Good production quality.
  • Good use of quick links back to the main site for additional information.

Opportunities:

  • Ms. McKee, the narrator of the videos, appears stiff, as if she is reading from a monitor. This could be addressed by giving her bullet points to speak from as opposed to a script to follow.
  • To break up the monotony of having the camera on one person narrating, work in more demonstrations, graphics or video with voiceover, or consider adding another personality.
  • Some of these videos are 8-10 minutes long. It’s hard to hold someone’s attention for that long through an online video. I’d recommend 5 minutes or less.

According to the website there are six more videos on the functionality of eggs that are coming soon! That’s exciting news and great for food technologists; hopefully, the American Egg Board will consider ways to make these videos even more engaging.

Because Feeling is Believing

Gingerpedia_masthead

The Ginger People have created a blog, using WordPress, that is titled GingerpediaThis blog is very specific to the one ingredient it produces—ginger. The blog covers topics on ginger supply, applications, ingredients and industry trends. It targets food service operators, manufacturers and development professionals.

The idea of a blog seems to scare a lot of ingredient manufacturers only because they don’t think that they can find the time to write. But if you weigh the time spent against the value you will receive, it’s a tactic worth considering. Any ingredient company can have a blog, just like this, with a similar focus. Blogs (and other social media tools) show a softer side of a company. They show the human side. Sometimes we forget that people do business with people they like. Just like with a consumer brand, your company should be building emotional connections with those you interact with at every touch point. Try to get into their hearts and minds. If you can show you have a personality and have great ideas, you instantly qualify yourself as someone a prospect could do business with.

With a plan and schedule in place that identifies topics to cover, who can write them and when they should post, a blog is definitely doable. Believe me. Here at Anderson Partners Food Ingredients, we went through the same conversations, decided to dive in and it has been one of our most successful tactics to date. You’re reading our blog now.

King Arthur Flour Gets Engagement

This post was originally going to be about King Arthur’s new “Our Farmers” videos. But after I watched the videos, I toured the website further and the post has taken a different turn. King Arthur is doing some really great things in terms of engagement, and I’d like to touch on a few of those.

King_Arthur_Flour_logo_older_a

Videos
King Arthur recently launched videos covering the following topics: Families, Life of a Farmer, Preserving the Land and the King Arthur Flour (KAF) Connection. Each topic category has an all- encompassing recap video and individual family farmer video testimonials. The production quality of these videos is great. KAF effortlessly captures the emotion of the farmers and the connection that they have to their livelihood. The videos are very honest and nonscripted. The charm of the videos remains intact because of KAF’s tasteful choice to have minimal branding in the lower right corner.

My one criticism would be that had I not seen this link in a press release I’m not sure I could find the videos on the website. My personal opinion is that they should be highlighted on the homepage.

Community
KAF has built its own social network on its website, and people are actually participating in it. Bakers are posting recipes using KAF flour, problems they are experiencing while baking, questions on tips and much more. To post comments, users sign in with their account that they set up to receive email blasts from KAF. If users don’t have an account, they can create one. What a smart way for KAF to capture a database of potential customers.

Blog
The blog features awesome food photography and a clean design. I don’t even bake, but it makes me want to because of the food shots alone. The tone is conversational and includes recommendations on recipes to try. Each post actually shows, through photography, the step by step process that the recipe calls for.

Our Flours
The product pages titled “Our Flours” also use enticing food photography but go a step further by pulling in customer testimonials from posts in the community forum. Is there any better way to sell a product than to have a positive customer endorsement? Genius!

I’d have to say my KAF video experience took a turn for the better, and KAF’s website provided a fresh look at how to be more engaging. If you haven’t noticed a theme lately with my posts let me reiterate … IT’S ALL ABOUT ENGAGEMENT.

QR Codes Put Information in the Hands of Your Customers—Literally

What if you could get information into the hands of your customers quicker? QR codes are short for quick response codes. When you scan one of these codes with your cell phone, it can do a number of things. It can provide you a contact’s information for download, take you to a web address or social media page, or download a PDF to your phone. Smartphones are becoming increasingly popular; therefore, mobile marketing tactics should be considered in your overall mix.

Consider these ideas and know that the possibilities are endless:

  • If you are hosting a customer event, use QR codes to create personalized name tags for each person. Place the code in an e-blast invitation to the event. The e-blast instructs attendees to register online. Then they immediately receive a personalized name tag with a QR code, which they can print out and bring to the event. Instead of exchanging business cards, every one can just scan one another’s name tags and capture the information that way.
  • Place the code on any promotional collateral piece and have people scan it to enter themselves into a contest or sweepstakes.
  • Place a code in a quarterly newsletter and link it back to a customer survey.
  • Place a code in a print ad and drive customers to your website or a unique landing page.
  • Place a code on a product sample. It could link to a recipe, ingredient and/or nutritional information.

Learn More!
Here’s a Mashable article on how QR codes are being used: http://mashable.com/2011/03/04/qr-codes-infographic/

Here’s a comprehensive list of available QR code generators. Most are free and offer some form of tracking: http://qrmedia.us/qr-code-generators-with-tracking/

QR code scavenger hunts are pretty common. Check out how Starbucks used QR codes to that end: http://mashable.com/2011/05/19/srch/

And lastly, QR codes don’t have to be ugly. Here’s how you can dress them up: http://mashable.com/2011/04/18/qr-code-design-tips/

Using QR Codes for Instant Sampling

While most companies understand the importance of social media, and have incorporated it into their marketing plans, figuring out how to use it to increase sales still remains a challenge. Which Wich Superior Sandwiches—a customized sandwich shop, and the fastest growing quick service chain in the U.S. in 2010—is known for its gourmet sandwiches, but wanted to increase add-on sales by encouraging its current customers to purchase a Which Wich cookie when purchasing their sandwiches. And they used Facebook and QR codes to do it.

It started with a Facebook post on the Which Wich wall saying:

It’s time for a BUN-NY Hunt! Open your QR Code reader and search your fave Which Wich location for the hidden “code.” Scan it and follow the directions for a free treat! The code could be anywhere in the store (where you guys are allowed – no kitchens, etc!) The hunt ends this Saturday, 4/23 🙂

Once inside the Which Wich shops, customers would find the QR code, scan it and be directed to a landing page that listed the steps the customer had to take in order to receive their free cookie (basically filling out a quick info sheet and turning it in at the counter).

This example is social media in its greatest form. With this sampling tactic, Which Wich not only engaged its current customers in a fun way, it encouraged additional add-ons for their future visits, thus increasing customer loyalty and increasing sales in one blow. It’s a business/customer win-win.

Smartphone Apps are the Smart Thing to Do

United fresh

With smartphone consumption on the rise, phone applications (apps) are still hotter than ever. And more and more food industry companies are taking advantage, as well as the food industry trade shows and conventions. United Fresh 2011—an expo for every segment of the produce industry—just took place May 2-5.

And to capture its audience beforehand, the expo sent an email blast encouraging attendees to download the United Fresh App for their mobile devices (also viewable on any internet-capable device). With this app, attendees were able to view an electronic version of the event schedule, and break it down into specific market segments, such as grower-shipper, wholesaler-distributor, fresh-cut processor or retail-foodservice.

While this app offered attendees convenience on-the-go at the show, an interesting feature about this app is that, even after the show, the app is still functional, allowing people to stay connected with United Fresh year-round. The app offers member alerts, news updates, United Fresh events and programming bulletins, as well as other new features to help extend the value of United Fresh membership. United Fresh has done a great job at capturing its audience with an initial benefit, and then making the most of that captured audience by offering information that will keep them around and up-to-date on its future endeavors.

Triscuits Uses Social Media to Feature Home Farming

TriscuitTriscuits cracker brand has created a new social media site built entirely around home farming. Members of this social network can track the progress of their home farms, upload pictures and videos, connect with other home farmers, and even receive rewards. With more than 17,000 members, the social site is taking off. In addition to posting about their farms, members have access to a great deal of farming information, guides and tips, including how to get started, how to store your harvest, and vegetable and herb guides. Those with specific questions can “Ask the Community” and get instant feedback from their fellow home farmers. Click here to check out Triscuits new home farming site.

The Power of Crowdsourcing for Food Companies

Crowdsourcing is a tool more and more companies are incorporating in their marketing efforts. One form of crowdsourcing entails outsourcing duties traditionally performed by employees or contractors to a group of people or a community. A recent Mashable article takes a look at three crowdsourcing campaigns from some pretty recognizable food and beverage companies.

Ben---Jerry-s-ben-and-jerrys-613380_1469_405The first is Ben & Jerry’s and its “Do the World a Flavor” campaign. Ben & Jerry’s was trying to raise awareness for its new fair trade ingredients. To do so, they created a virtual “Creation Station” where fans could invent their own B&J creations and “tap into [their] passion, creativity and their own interpretation of ‘Peace, Love and Ice Cream,’” said Sean Greenwood, public relations for B&J. The campaign was a success, with more than 10,000 new flavor suggestions from the U.S. alone.

dunkin-donutsThe second is Dunkin’ Donuts’ “Keep it Coolatta 2: Flavor Boogaloo.” Dunkin’ Donuts has asked fans previously to create the next Dunkin’ donut, but they tried something different for their new line of Coolatta drinks. Fans were asked to create a playlist of songs that summarized each flavor. The campaign netted 300,000 new Facebook fans, while over 40,000 Pandora users added “The ultimate Coolatta summer music mix!” to their list of stations, and spent nearly 14,000 hours listening to the station.

water

And last, but definitely not least, is Coca Cola’s Glaceau vitaminwater with “Flavor Creator.” Coca Cola wanted to come up with a brand new flavor for a drink, so they created the Flavor Creator, allowing their fans to vote for their favorite flavor, play games and answer quizzes to help determine which “functional benefit” the beverage should offer. They even had their say on the design of the label. The campaign was a success, according to Matt Kahn, senior vice president of marketing for vitaminwater. “The vitaminwater flavor creator was a three month, three step program that allowed us to have a two way conversation with our consumers. We gave our fans the tools to help develop something they were passionate about. In the end, we heard loud and clear what it was that they wanted when it came to vitaminwater.”

With social media, marketing opportunities have never been better. Consumers are practically at your fingertips, and for a more-than-reasonable cost. Incorporating a crowdsourcing campaign, allowing those consumers to test out and help develop new products and flavors, can result in immediate feedback and can even help you save money in the preliminary stages of development. Not to mention the fact that involving consumers in the product development process will most likely up the chances that they become customers once your product hits the shelf. Leading us to agree that crowdsourcing is a win-win for both consumer and company.

Facebook: The New Focus Group

pitapitIt’s no secret that focus groups are an effective approach to determining what your customers want, prefer and expect from your product/brand. They’ve been an important tool for many companies, for many years. But, although they can be effective, they’re not always cost-effective. If you don’t necessarily have the budget for a focus group, an alternative is to utilize your company’s Facebook page. For example, Pita Pit is a nationwide quick-service restaurant that is asking its Facebook fans to “Name That Pita.” The fans are encouraged to come up with names for its new, limited-time Prime Rib and Provolone Pita, and then vote on their favorite submissions. Like a focus group, this approach offers Pita Pit direct feedback from its target demographic, opening up conversation, while also engaging them and generating buzz and brand-loyalty. It’s customer feedback at a low cost; yet again, another fantastic perk to social media. Read more about Pita Pit’s contest here.

Supermarket Guru Takes Video a Step Further

gurusite

Some of you may already be familiar with the self-proclaimed Supermarket Guru, Phil Lempert. Phil is a leading food industry analyst, journalist and trend-watcher, and is a spokesperson for ConAgra Foods. Working with various ConAgra brands and its retail partners, Phil helps communicate strategies on saving money, healthier eating and food trend information to America’s shoppers. Each week on SupermarketGuru.com, Phil posts a New Product Review video. In these videos, Phil reviews five new products and rates them based on taste, value, health, ingredients, preparation, appearance, packaging and sustainability—dubbing the product either a hit or a miss. In the videos, Phil uses an interesting mix of footage and supers. As he talks through the products, he displays the actual product, product name, breakdown of the ratings and price. Even more interesting is the New Product Review page layout. To the right of the footage is a transcript of what Phil is saying about each product, including a link to the product’s website. It’s definitely an interesting approach to spicing up traditional video clips—making video an even more effective addition to your website.

 

Full Disclosure on “Paid” Blogger Content

In December of 2009, the Federal Trade Commission updated it’s guidelines on endorsements and testimonials, which affected testimonial advertisements, bloggers and celebrity endorsements. The last time these Guides were updated was in 1980! With the widespread acceptance and use of social media to review products and services, as well as to aid in making informed decisions, this was a necessary change.

“The revised Guides specify that while decisions will be reached on a case-by-case basis, the post of a blogger who receives cash or in-kind payment to review a product is considered an endorsement. Thus, bloggers who make an endorsement must disclose the material connections they share with the seller of the product or service.”

How are manufacturers befriending bloggers? General Mills says it uses roughly 100 social media sites to engage consumers. It also goes where bloggers are by hosting tasting suites at major blogging conferences. It hosts its own events too, like “Baking with Betty,” in which bloggers sample and bake with new lines of products in test kitchens. They are not paid to blog, nor are required to do so, but all expenses are paid to attend the event. General Mills recognizes the value in social media, so much so that it created its own blogosphere of consumers called MyBlogSpark. Here, member bloggers receive product information and samples to review which span food and beverage, health, beauty, electronics, home and automotive care. It appears that any brand and any blogger can participate in this. It is not clear how the bloggers are endorsed.

Consider rethinking the strategy you use to get your products in front of customers and how it could be enhanced through word-of-mouth testimonials and endorsements.

 

Association Marketing at its Finest

Almond Banner

Food ingredient national and regional association and board websites have come a long way. Not too long ago, these websites were not visually appealing, were mostly text based and were certainly not user friendly. As of late, it seems that associations are investing more dollars into marketing and are driving traffic to their sites through print and banner advertising in the major food industry publications, like Food Business News and Food Processing. And rightly so, because these websites house a wealth of helpful information. I can quickly find information by channel (health professional, food industry, grower, etc.), and on health benefits, recipes, distribution, and much more.

Here’s a list of a few great association sites:

www.almondboard.com
www.calraisins.org
www.madewithhoney.com
www.sweetsurprise.com
www.cornnaturally.com
www.nationalpeanutboard.org
www.aeb.org

 

The World of Food Blogging Continues to Grow

FoodPress-post1Food blogging is continuing to grow in popularity, and entering the game now is WordPress.com. WordPress.com is known for hosting a number of active bloggers, and allowing new bloggers quick and easy access to start posting. Seeing an opportunity for a niche site, WordPress.com has introduced its bloggers to Food Press—an accumulation of food-related posts that are pulled from the WordPress.com site. From featured posts to featured bloggers, Food Press allows food lovers to share recipes, photos and more. Having started just a few months ago, Food Press is already taking off. Click here to read more about its launch.

YouTube Channels—Walmart Holiday Videos

 

More and more businesses are creating personalized YouTube channels—custom-branded YouTube pages that house a collection of company videos. And Walmart is one of many that has taken advantage of its YouTube channel. Walmart introduced Family Baking Videos to encourage families to shop at Walmart. Customers were asked to tape and submit video footage of their families making holiday treats—treats that can then be given as holiday gifts to friends and family for under $5 per receiver. Each video offers recipe details, and features the purchased products. Walmart not only used YouTube to increase sales, but also used a unique tactic to further enhance its family-focused shopping experience. If your company doesn’t already have a YouTube channel, it’s easy to start one.

“Facebook Deals” is Going Places

facebook-deals-300x295It’s no secret Facebook can be a successful way to reach your customers and engage them on a personal level. But Facebook is not finished growing. Recently, the social-media leader came out with an opportunity called Facebook Deals. This service enables marketers to reward Facebook users who use Facebook Places—an application that allows members to alert friends as to where they are—and “check in” at a restaurant or retail location from their mobile phones. The businesses can then offer deals and discounts to thank them for visiting the establishment. According to a recent National Restaurant News article, more than 3 million people are already checking in with Places and about one-third of Facebook’s users use the mobile app. Among some of the businesses to sign up for Facebook Deals are McDonald’s, Chipotle and Starbucks. And you know, if the big guys are taking advantage of the opportunity, then there’s probably something to it.

DSW Uses Social Media to Improve Customer Service

dsw-store-pic

One of the great advantages of social media is your ability to speak directly to your customers—to have a direct line to answer their questions, ease their concerns and embrace their praises. If you’ve been on the fence about social media, read this blog post and weigh the value against your own business. See how Designer Shoe Warehouse (DSW) handled a website malfunction which could have potentially turned away a lot of customers on Cyber Monday.

DSW had an amazing deal for Cyber Monday—25% off the entire purchase, plus free shipping for purchases over $35. Unfortunately, by about 3:00 p.m. the site experienced way more traffic than it could handle. When you tried to go the site, you’d get a landing page that said “Oh no. Too many cyber shoppers. Check back often. One day sale only.” This problem continued on through the day until about 11:00 p.m. I, like most people, was insanely frustrated and turned to Twitter to see what was up.

To my surprise, many others were experiencing the same issue and frustrations. What was interesting to me was DSW’s response. Check out @dswshoelovers to view their page and #dsw to view what others had to say. You’ll want to go to Monday’s tweets to see the chatter when this was all happening. I’m not sure if it’s a normal DSW practice, but they have responded to every person who made a comment about them, whether good or bad. Even me! After an hour of posting, I received a tweet that said “We’re back up in action! Have at it! #dsw.” I found it pretty cool to be so connected and felt like my problem was being handled.

It even appears that Tuesday, in order to rectify the problem and keep their loyal customers, DSW asked those who had issues to e-mail them. I only assume they are going to issue a rebate for the same deal. Here are some of those tweets.

“Shoot us an email to tweepluv@dswinc.com & we’ll see what we can do.”

“We are SHOE sorry our site was giving you trouble! Shoot us an email to tweepluv@dswinc.com so we can make it right!”

“Shoe shopping should not be this frustrating! Shoot us an email to tweepluv@dswinc.com so we can fix it!”

Lastly, DSW was offering the same deal Monday in the retail stores, because the site was down. And … if you couldn’t get into the store, you could have them place the shoes on hold for you to pick up the next day. I know this because I called!

I was very impressed by how DSW handled this issue, which could have potentially turned away a lot of customers. They recognized they had a big problem, they related to customers’ concerns, poked a little fun at themselves and provided solutions. Customer service at its finest.

 

Häagen-Dazs “Likes” Potential Franchisees

While Facebook is traditionally utilized by companies to accumulate “friends” who are fans of their products and/or services, Häagen-Dazs has incorporated the social media site as a part of its franchise recruitment strategy.

HaagenDazs

The ice cream company has created a separate Facebook page—apart from its official Häagen-Dazspage, which currently has more than 560,000 friends—called Ice Cream Boss, which is an interactive game designed to engage and educate potential investors. Each week, Ice Cream Boss gives friends of the page a situation. They are then asked how they would respond to that situation as a franchise owner. The game encourages the transition of interested prospective franchisee to active franchise owner, easing them into this role. It’s definitely a unique tactic to provoke franchisee interest, and a great way for Häagen-Dazs to keep its potential franchisees in one area.

 

BakeMark Joins Twitter Conversation

Here is an editorial from Baking Buyer about how BakeMark USA is using Twitter. BakeMark says its customers are online and it wants to get information out quickly to them. It’s interesting to note that BakeMark is not using Twitter to promote its products, but instead, tweets business-building ideas, new recipes and decorating tips, industry information and upcoming trends twice a day. You can follow them at twitter.com/BakeMark.

BakeMark Twitter

Starbucks Fans Make Ideas Into a Reality

MyStarbucksIdeaFor years, Starbucks has been known for its trend-setting moves in social-media marketing, and that remains to be true. As reported in an October article on qsrmagazine.com, Starbucks has incorporated a “Give a Gift” update to its Starbucks Card Facebook App—an application that Facebook members can use to access and manage their Starbucks accounts. This new app allows Facebook members to load $5-$500 directly onto a friend or family member’s registered Starbucks card, without ever having to leave Facebook. BUT … and this is a good but … an interesting fact about this new feature is that it was actually the 100th idea Starbucks has launched from its community site, My Starbucks Idea—a site Starbucks created to encourage its fans to suggest the next big idea. With 250,000 members and 98,000 ideas generated, Starbucks has definitely created a resource that produces some pretty amazing things. What Starbucks understands about social media is it’s a successful tool, only if you continue to build off of it. Social media isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, so we suggest taking Starbucks’ lead. Don’t just incorporate social media; push it to the limit so you can get the most out of it.

Pierce Chicken Builds Online “Chickenopolis”

chickenopolisPierce Chicken is proof that animation does have a place in the food ingredient industry. Pierce Chicken—a supplier of practically everything chicken—is breaking the food-ingredient stereotype with Chickenopolis—an online e-town built of generic establishments, each representing a food industry category (i.e., schools, restaurants, grocery stores, etc.). By clicking on one of the virtual buildings, you can view a list of Pierce Chicken products that are fitting for that type of business. For example, clicking on the Chickenopolis Watering Hole provides a list of products that complement a bar or tavern’s menu, while clicking on the Chickenopolis hospital provides a list of products that work well in the healthcare cafeteria setting. What’s great about Chickenopolis is that it’s not only engaging, but it successfully conveys the wide range of versatility that Pierce Chicken provides its customers. And, let’s face it, it’s fun, and that’s refreshing to see.

Nick-N-Willy’s Gains Customer Popularity Through Blogging

nnw-logoThe world of blogging is not just for opinionated society members with something to say and no outlet with which to say it. It’s something that numerous companies utilize in order to not only promote sales and new products, but to connect with customers on a more personal level, creating greater customer loyalty. (You’re reading ours right now, and surely loving it, so you can understand how it works.) Nick-N-Willy’s is a nationwide chain of pizza establishments, and just one of the many companies making the most of blogs. Its Slice of Life at Nick-N-Willy’s blog has become a huge hit with its customers. Since November 2009, the pizza joint has written posts about its community involvement, grand openings, franchise opportunities and much more, including posting numerous appetizing pictures of its products. So a suggestion: don’t discard blog postings—they can be very powerful. It may take awhile to build a fan base, but, if you keep putting out the content, you’ll see the numbers increase over time.

Del Monte Offers Fresh Produce to Classrooms

tm Del Monte Fresh Produce® has launched its Teacher Monday Cash for Classrooms—a contest for educators to win cash and fresh produce for their classrooms. Teachers have to write an essay explaining what they would do with the winnings, and students, parents and the public vote for their favorites. Every Monday, for five weeks, 10 teachers with the most votes will win $1,000 in cash and produce. To promote the contest, Del Monte has done a great job at fully utilizing social media outlets, including a Facebook page specifically for the contest, the Del Monte Twitter account and uploading a video on Vimeo—a site similar to YouTube, where members can post their videos. Overall, Del Monte has tapped into a majority of the social media available to them and has seen success in having done so.

IBIE Offers Twitter Feed. Few Companies Use It.

Recently, I attended the 2010 IBIE Expo in Las Vegas. The very first thing I noticed upon entering the convention hall, were large Twitter kiosks featuring show attendee tweets from the show floor. Attendees were encouraged to tag their tweets with #IBIE2010, which made for a nice collection of quick, IBIE-related news and information.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnderson Partners Food Ingredients kept a constant watch over interesting booths, products to note, samples not to miss and overall happenings during the expo. Although tweeting is an extremely beneficial way to promote a company and its products, I found many key companies absent from this social media platform. Some exhibitors even promoted Twitter feeds on their collateral, but were not active tweeters at the show. This tells me that marketers are aware of Twitter, some have even dipped their toes in the water by creating an account, but very few are actively using the tool.

It’s a fair assumption, that with so few people tweeting, very few people were also following the tweets. I think it’s only a matter of time until the food industry discovers how relevant this tool can be, especially at a trade show. Don’t miss out on free promotional opportunities such as this one. I’d recommend getting involved now, so when the trend does catch on, you are light years ahead of the game.

Anderson Partners Follows Food Ingredient Companies on Twitter

Food ingredient marketers have been questioning the value of social media tools, including Twitter. We’ve recently created a Twitter account in which we feature products of interest, key company announcements, market trends, marketing best practices and the latest in food ingredient news. We also follow food ingredient marketers, industry publications and tradeshows on Twitter so we can monitor how the food ingredient industry is using this tool.

Please be sure to follow us on Twitter at http://twitter.com/apfood.

Also, here is a list of the food ingredient companies we are currently following. If you’d like to be added to this list, please post a comment with your Twitter handle and company name.

Look out for future posts where we provide insights into how this tool is being used.

NetWaiter Online Ordering Meets Social Media

NetwaitorIf you thought your company was utilizing Facebook as much as it could, you may have been wrong. In a recent QSRmagazine.com article, it was reported that NetWaiter—a company that provides restaurant owners with customizable online ordering systems—has incorporated restaurant ordering into the popular social media site. Here’s how it works. When customers order from you, at the time of purchase, they can click on a Facebook icon on your site. By clicking this icon, it instantly posts on the customer’s Facebook page that he or she just purchased something from your business. This post then creates a link back to your company’s website, so this person’s friends can check out your site. On top of that, by a customer clicking this icon, your company establishes a permanent presence on that customer’s Facebook page, allowing him or her quick and easy access back to your business when ready to order again. Might sound a little complicated, but, as this catches on, you’ll be seeing it used a lot more, and not just by restaurants.

Philadelphia Macaroni Company Featured on Food Network Show

PhiliMacaroniCo_FoodNetworkPhiladelphia Macaroni Company—a manufacturer of … you guessed it … pasta and noodles, engineered to customers’ exact specifications—was recently highlighted on the popular Food Network Channel show, Unwrapped. Now, while third-party publicity is a great form of advertising in and of itself, Dean Lustig, Philadelphia Macaroni’s vice president and general manager, took the publicity one step further. He shared the news of the upcoming show with customers and clients on LinkedIn—prompting them to watch the episode—sent out an update to the company’s newsletter database, and is going to show the video at upcoming trade shows. Take it from Dean, that when you get your 15 minutes of fame, you should milk it for all it’s worth … especially if that fame comes in the form of 15 minutes on a cable television network. We don’t all get this opportunity, but if it comes around, follow Dean’s lead and share the experience with your existing and future customers. It’s all about credibility and worth the extra effort.

Qdoba Mini Site, an Engaging Tool

FlavorBoredomWith the high demand from consumers for new, interesting flavors and food products, Qdoba Mexican Grill has taken a unique approach to showing off its range of options—Food Lovers Fighting Burrito Boredom (FLFBB). Qdoba has created a separate, interactive site for FLFBB where you can take the self-diagnosis quiz to see if you, too, suffer from burrito boredom. If you do, you can take the Two-Step Plan of Attack (A.K.A. “the cure”) to create a virtual entrée, including a wide range of meats, salsas and sauces. As you create your entrée, it is being rated on the “Boredom Beater Meter.” If you succeed in creating an entrée that beats burrito boredom, you receive a printable coupon for your entrée to use at a participating Qdoba. The FLFBB even has a support group where fellow sufferers can upload videos, offering them the chance to receive free burritos for a year. This mini-site approach has become more and more popular over the years and continues to be a successful tool for reaching and engaging the customer.

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