The 4 Keys to Successful Food Industry In-Person Events

In-person experiences offer restaurants marketing value that is unique and singular. These events consistently resonate with consumers and their effectiveness can be directly attributed back to their focus on people. Basic human interaction is the foundation of all strong relationships and creating such connections is the core to a sustainable business strategy. No matter how authentic and personable your online content is, it’s still only content. Your audience can’t grab a drink with your article. They can’t get to know your infographic.

Here are the 4 main areas to focus on to ensure a successful in-person event:

1.) Pre-Event Marketing

Send e-mail reminders to loyal customers and strong prospects before the event, urging them to stop by and see you. Make sure that you promote the event on your blog and social media channels as well. If you are offering something special and newsworthy, it would be a good idea to put out a formal press release in your local media. Don’t forget to be sure to include the compelling reasons why someone should take the time to come out and see you.

Here are a few ways to compel people to attend:

  • Offering free tickets or discounted tickets to the event is a great way to get people interested in attending.
  • Entice your customers with the types of dishes you will be featuring and ask them to stop by for a free sample and maybe a recipe card.
  • Put together a drawing to be held during the event for a free meal or appetizer for their next visit to your restaurant.

This is also a good opportunity for you to reward your current loyal customer base. Offer your regulars a special thank you, just for them, for coming to the event.

2.) Event Staff and Setup

Your staff will make or break your event. Make sure that everyone you send representing your restaurant is properly trained for the event. Take the time for several meetings (beginning at least 30 days prior to the event) to allow everyone to brainstorm ideas and to plan out the best way to set up your space at the event, what you will serve, and how it will be served. Each member of your staff needs to be well trained on what you will be serving and what the ingredients are in each dish. They will also need to be able to talk intelligently about your restaurant, your other offerings, and your history.

Stress the value of friendly greetings, polite manners, and appropriate body language. Send friendly, personable people to the event that possess genuine enthusiasm for your company, as well as its products and services. These may not be your most senior people: make your choices based on effectiveness, not seniority. These people are representing you at this event, choose wisely.

Establish a code of conduct for the event. Make sure that your staff knows that being on their cell phones for any reason is unacceptable. Personal phone calls, text messages, social media and web browsing should only be done during breaks.

Establish a dress code, or provide company-branded clothing, for your event staffers. They will look more professional and act as better ambassadors for your company. Don’t forget things like the shoes, hair, and accessories: people notice the small details.

Make sure that you have put together a thorough checklist of all items that you need in order to have a successful event and that you bring enough to cover the entire event.

Items such as:

  • Décor & Decorations for your table to reflect the theme of your establishment
  • Pots, Pans, & Other Cooking Items
  • Utensils (both for serving and for eating)
  • Bowls, Plates, & Glasses
  • Attractive garnishes
  • Napkins (both for cleanup and for tasting)
  • Disposable gloves
  • and more

Also, make sure that all of your samples are as fresh as possible and are uniform in appearance.
You may also consider doing a joint venture with one of your vendors to supply specific items for your event that will help get more people to the event and boost sales for both of you.

3.) Marketing Materials, Giveaways, and Samples

Product demonstrations are a great way to draw a crowd. Make sure your team knows how to give an effective, engaging presentation by having them practice before the event. Make sure that your offerings are appropriate and appeal to the attendees of the event.

Cooking demonstrations are a fabulous way to draw in a large crowd and keep them entertained. Make it a show! Do you offer pizza? Have chefs tossing dough. Maybe offer an intriguing knife skills demonstration. Mixology demonstrations of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages with flare can really wow. Remember, people eat with their eyes and love to be dazzled.

Having and distributing useful company-branded giveaways is a great way to keep you in your prospective client’s thoughts long after the event. Make sure you bring enough promotional gifts to give away. This could be something like a small recipe booklet that you give out in exchange for their email address.

Be sure you have good marketing collateral to give away to everyone who stops by your table – things like brochures, postcards, flyers, and business cards. Never make it difficult for a possible customer to contact or find out more about you, your offerings, and your establishment after the event. If you have a loyalty program, make sure that there is a way for people to sign up for it at the event.

4.) Post-Event Follow-Up

After the event has ended, make sure that you take the time to send or say “Thank You” to attendees for stopping by, to anyone who fills out survey information, or to anyone who participates in a demonstration. Try to get the thank you out no more than a week after the event – you want to be fresh in their minds and entice them step into your door. This is a great time to offer them something special for coming to your event. These follow up emails can be done over a period of time to offer even more value to the customer (maybe once every other month after the event for a year).

Offers such as:

  • A discount when they stop in next
  • A birthday promo
  • Access to a short video series by your chef
  • Invites to special events
  • Invites to vendor events
  • Recipes or recipe booklets
  • Cooking tips

The key to better in-person events is to engage prospects in thoughtful and exciting ways. Pushy sales will only get you so far. To really drive home your message, and gain business interest, you need to build influence around you and your company, product, or service offering.
Need assistance? Let us help!
We know that adding quality, engaging, consistent, marketing to your already busy schedule running your restaurant is like eating one more after dinner mint – that is why we have created comprehensive done-for-you solutions to keep your marketing running smoothly month in and month out.

We are your total solution provider – hand us the reigns and let us work our magic. As a previous chef, restaurant manager, and catering guru turned marketing and photography professional, we have what it takes to make your restaurant stay up to date and stand out from the crowd!

The Rico Group specializes in compelling website design, social media, photography, video, reputation/review management, loyalty programs, press releases, newsletter campaigns, graphic design, ads, brochures, table and booth graphics, and much more.

Grow your business with better marketing with The Rico Group.
(805) 497-7401