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Top Ten Tips for Social Media Marketing at Food Industry Trade Shows

Picture of social media outlets
Integrating social media into your trade show and event marketing plan is a great way to enhance your company’s trade show presence

In the food ingredient industry, social media is becoming one of the most popular ways to engage with current/potential customers and trade media before, during and after trade shows. By successfully integrating social media into your trade show marketing strategy, your company will be better equipped to reach and engage with target customers and prospects, which can help generate more sales leads for your products and services.

Below, are steps you can take to maximize your trade show ROI through social media marketing.

  1. Develop a strategy – Like any other part of your integrated marketing plan, it’s important to establish a specific plan of action for trade show marketing on social media (i.e. what platforms to use, who will post what and when). Plan your course of action before the event so you and your team are on the same page.
  2. Set specific goals – Your strategy should include measurable goals and objectives to ensure the greatest ROI. With clear-cut goals, you’ll be able to gauge whether or not your efforts were successful and what might need to be adjusted in the future.
  3. Identify relevant trade show handles and hashtags – Many industry trade shows use unique hashtags (#) and handles to help connect attendees and exhibitors. You may also consider using your own hashtag(s), especially if you have interactive booth components or new product/brand launches. For example, Ardent Mills used the hashtag #theannexam to promote its new ingredients unit, The Annex by Ardent Mills at IFT’s Food Expo (IFT18). By encouraging booth attendees to share photos using the hashtag, the team was able to engage with more individuals at the show. Ardent Mills also tagged @IFT and @IFTMedia in several tweets to reach trade media and other contacts.
  4. Choose the right channel(s) – Each social media channel communicates with audiences differently. For example, LinkedIn is known to be more professional and works great for B2B engagement, while Twitter is a little more casual and offers more opportunity for real-time engagement. Facebook is quickly becoming more widely used by B2B companies, and many food industry companies have started using YouTube as a platform to upload videos and demos from the trade show floor. Additionally, Facebook offers a lot of flexibility and can be great for quick, daily recaps and photo uploads. Try experimenting on each platform to find the best times and channels for your target audience.
  5. Involve your entire team – Getting everyone involved in the messaging can help support company goals while allowing individuals to make their own, authentic connections. Encourage your team members to post content from their personal social media accounts and to share company updates. For example, many of our staff tweeted pictures from IFT18 using relevant hashtags (e.g. #IFT18) to help create engagement with trade show exhibitors and attendees. Additionally, you may want to consider sharing tweets from outside sources, including trade media and customers, leading up to the trade show to create more engagement.
  6. Position your company as a thought leader – It’s important to promote your booth number and what you’re sampling, but you also want to keep your followers interested by sharing a mix of original content, expert insights and industry articles. Corbion does a great job of mixing up its content calendar with various polls, helpful information and thought leadership content in order to keep the conversation alive and strong online. The team also shares industry articles and tags trade media for additional engagement.
  7. Schedule content in advance – Scheduling content (about 1-2 posts per day) before a trade show can help save your team valuable time at the event. This way, you’ll be able to engage with booth attendees, media contacts and other prospects in real time. After all, face-to-face interactions are extremely valuable nowadays, especially at events like industry trade shows.
  8. Join in on conversations – It can be also beneficial to share a few live posts with pictures of your booth, staff and/or any samples you are serving up at the show to create real-time engagement with trade show attendees and anyone following along from home. Don’t be afraid to respond to or start conversations with current and prospective contacts as time allows. Engaging with attendees early and often can help increase your trade show marketing ROI.
  9. Evaluate and monitor results – When the trade show is over, continue interacting with current and potential contacts in order to keep the conversation going strong. Updating your social media channels regularly can help your company maintain top of mind awareness for its brand and products.
  10. Implement an integrated marketing communications plan – When implemented as part of an integrated marketing communications plan, B2B social media marketing can help build awareness and visibility by providing another platform through which you can engage with your target audience. Nevertheless, it’s only one of many important trade show marketing tactics that can help drive B2B decision makers.

Apply these tips to your overall marketing plan and soon your team will be on its way to building a successful social media presence at food industry trade shows. For more information on trade show best practices, download our report.

Tips for Following Up After a Food Industry Trade Show

80% of non-routine sales occur after at least five follow-ups.

Trade shows provide an opportunity for food ingredient companies to reach new prospects, connect with current customers and stay up to date on the latest trends and industry developments. Yet, there is a lot of work that goes into exhibiting at a trade show – and it’s not over the second the trade show floor closes.

To truly leverage your time and resources, it is important to follow up early and often. The following steps can help you maintain top of mind awareness with trade show attendees after the event.

  1. Follow up – Follow up with prospects right away while your brand and conversations are still top of mind. Reaching out to current/potential customers and media contacts in a timely manner can help separate your company from your competition, which in turn can increase your chances of finalizing a deal.
  2. Keep your brand top of mind – Most sales aren’t made until the fourth contact or later. While you don’t want to appear desperate, persistency can help set you apart from others in the industry and increase your chances of closing a sale. After the show, consider sending follow-up emails to discuss what you showcased at the show and any other topics that may be of interest to current and potential customers. This can help you stay visible while offering opportunities to request samples, schedule presentations/meetings or contact your staff directly.
  3. Prepare for your next trade show – As soon as you wrap things up, start thinking about your next event and how you can apply what you learned from the last conference to your next food industry trade show. Remember, choosing to exhibit at a food industry trade show requires a lot of time, energy and resources, so it’s important to begin preparing early in order to get a satisfactory return on your investments.

Trade show marketing is just one of many tactics your company can – and should – incorporate into its integrated marketing communications plan. By preparing in advance and engaging attendees at the show, as well as following up early and often after the event, you can make the most out of your trade show investments. For more information about developing a clear integrated strategy for trade show marketing, please contact us.

Top Four Grocery Trends Driving the Food and Beverage Industry in 2018

Grocery Trends

We continue our consumer trends blog series with a high-level look at the fundamental shifts that are taking place in grocery retail and how food and beverage manufacturers can capitalize on these changes.

Today’s consumers have a multitude of options to choose from when it comes to purchasing groceries. Most shoppers (76%) buy groceries more than once a week, often to get fresh food, including produce and deli-prepared meals. While most sales still take place in traditional brick-and-mortar stores, retailers now offer grocery delivery and online services through programs like Amazon Fresh and Blue Apron. As the industry continues to evolve, it is important for food and beverage manufacturers to adapt to the following trends if they wish to compete effectively and sell their products via grocery retailers.

Tech-Savvy Shoppers and Aging Populations

Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods for $13.7 billion—a deal that sent shock waves across the entire grocery industry—was arguably one of the most significant changes of 2017. Immediately following the acquisition, the electronic commerce and cloud computing company began making major changes at Whole Foods. Such changes include cutting costs, selling Amazon’s tech brands in stores and internal restructuring, according to an article by Business Insider.

In order to keep pace, it is important for food and beverage manufacturers to recognize their products’ place among these new innovations. By identifying ways to capitalize on the needs of tech-savvy generations and older populations who may have a harder time navigating store aisles, food and beverage manufacturers will be more likely to increase their reach and drive sales for their products. One way to do so is by selling their products online.

Home Delivery

As time-starved consumers and older generations increasingly seek out opportunities for more convenience, they are finding innovative ways to bring the grocery aisles to their doorsteps. In the United States, online grocery sales are expected to reach $41.7 billion by 2022, according to a 2017 report from report from Packaged Facts. This makes it easier for supermarket retailers to free up shelf space for more “exciting” products like fresh, exotic or artisan foods.

Of course, there are also barriers to online grocery shopping. For example, 69 percent of consumers say they are concerned about product freshness, while 62 percent express concern with overall quality. The longer a product stays fresh, the more likely it can be sold online, which places added pressure on food and beverage manufacturers as they seek to increase the shelf life of their products. Through natural sources, such as enzymes and vinegar-based solutions, food and beverage manufacturers can increase the shelf life of their products while meeting demands for natural, simplified ingredients.

Eating Out, At Home

In addition to buying groceries online, many Americans are eating out less and citing cost as the primary reason, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll. But Americans aren’t the only consumers staying home. In a 2016 survey by The Nielsen Company, nearly two-thirds of global respondents said they follow a diet that limits their consumption of certain foods, with higher rates in Africa and the Middle East (84%) and the Asia-Pacific region (72%). With an increased focus on health and wellness and an aging population, more educated and connected consumers around the world are adopting “back-to-basics” mindsets. Often times, this means eating at home in order to avoid artificial ingredients, hormones, antibiotics or genetically modified organisms because less than half of today’s consumers feel their needs are being met by current product offerings. Food and beverage manufacturers have an opportunity to better serve consumers by delivering products to grocery stores and other retailers that are free from unwanted ingredients.

Changing Lifestyles

While the recent shift in dining out is typically associated with economic recessions, economists say it signals a change in consumer lifestyles, particularly among aging millennials. As the nation’s largest living generation, millennials (individuals born between 1980 and the early 2000s) are an important audience for food and beverage manufacturers. In addition to seeking out more convenient food and beverage options that match their busy lifestyles, aging millennials are choosing to spend their money on home cooked meals rather than eating out. When they do dine out, millennials appear to be spending more per restaurant, treating the task as more of an experience rather than simply a means to consume. As millennials become more conservative with their money, food and beverage manufacturers have an opportunity to capitalize on the demand for products that bring indulgent experiences close to home by selling these items to grocery retailers.

Moving forward, it is important for food and beverage manufacturers to understand the fundamental shifts that are taking place in grocery retail and how today’s consumers are driving these changes. By recognizing the growing demand for more healthful products and indulgent experiences, and providing grocery retailers with products that help them deliver on these demands, food and beverage manufacturers will be able to compete more effectively in 2018.

Super Bowl Sunday: A Game Changer for U.S. Food and Beverage Brands

The National Football League championship game is right around the corner. While football fans everywhere are gearing up for the big day, we are eagerly awaiting the release of the most high-profile television commercials, also known as the Super Bowl ads. As food ingredient marketers, we have a vested interest in the marketing communications used by consumer brands to reach large demographics. Plus, we love great advertising! That’s why our team is coming together this Sunday to watch the Super Bowl and discuss our thoughts on the ads—and you can bet there will be plenty of food. (Check back next week for a list of our favorite 2018 Super Bowl ads.)

Super Bowl Viewership

With an average audience of 113.7 million people and 70 percent of all U.S. households tuning in each year, the Super Bowl is the most watched U.S. television broadcast. The game also creates an opportunity for food and beverage brands to engage with consumers online. Last year, 48.3 million Americans engaged in more than 190 million social media interactions across Facebook and Twitter, according to a 2017 report by Nielsen. With nearly 80 percent of consumers engaged in social media while watching the Super Bowl, food and beverage brands have an opportunity to compete effectively—and perhaps go viral—by advertising during the biggest game of the year. *

With this in mind, Twitter is taking steps to become the top social media destination for the Super Bowl. The online news and social networking platform is creating the first-ever #BrandBowl as a place for advertisers and users to come together and discuss Super Bowl ads. Twitter will even hand out awards to the brands who generate the highest velocity of Tweets-per-minute and most retweets on a single Tweet, as well as the brand that drives the highest percentage of conversation without a national TV spot.

Picture of pizza and wings

Food and Beverage Consumption

Of course, as food and beverage consumers, we also have a sweet spot for the amount of food and beverages that are consumed on Super Bowl Sunday. Forbes prefaced it best in a recent article when they said, “The Super Bowl is to the food industry what Christmas is to retailers.” According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Super Bowl is the second largest U.S. food consumption day, surpassed only by Thanksgiving. While the Super Bowl doesn’t have an official “food item” like Thanksgiving’s obligatory turkey, there are a few front-runners:

  • Chicken wings – The National Chicken Council estimates that Americans will eat 1.33 billion chicken wings—up two percent (or 30 million chicken wings) from 2017.
  • Pizza – predicts that Americans will buy 12.5 million pizzas, with an average order cost of $26.45.
  • Beer – More than 51.7 million cases of beer are sold every year on Super Bowl Sunday, according to Fox News.

What food and beverage products are on your 2018 Super Bowl menu, and what food ingredients does your company offer to help manufacturers meet demands for these products? You can bet pizza and wings are at the top of our list and will make an appearance at our Super Bowl watch party. Comment below to share your thoughts.

*It is important for food and beverage brands to understand the Super Bowl trademark rules before using the name in any context with their brand.

Tips for B2B Marketing on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

Understanding the differences between social media platforms can help you share content that reaches your target audience and maximizes your B2B marketing efforts. Learn more >>

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