Friday, January 9, 2009

Marketing for your Catering Business

When working out a sales and marketing plan for your catering business start-up you first have to understand the market both in terms of the competition and what kinds of events local clients will require catering for. Before writing up your business plan you should look at how your future competitors are running their businesses and doing their marketing. By calling them up on the phone or even having a meeting with them you can get a fair idea about the marketing and sales methods that they are using.

From wedding catering to social events, the various catering market segments that you could target are almost endless. Look for market segments in which you have strengths in which you feel are currently not being serviced sufficiently by your competitors. If you do take on one of the larger segments of the market such as corporate catering you should try to define your unique selling proposition or how you will differentiate your company from your competitors.

Get a branding strategy together and create some promotional materials including business cards, a website and brochures showing off some of your menus and photos from previous events that you have organized.

Work out a sales process right from the point of first contact with the customer through to closing the deal and test various aspects of it until you find the most successful process. Try to relate to your customers by imagining yourself being in the same busy situation that they are in. When you meet with clients don't forget to take along some samples of your food for them to try. When it has become clear that you have a new client, try to up sell them on more profitable menu items or additional services.

Test a variety of advertising methods, starting with the methods that other caterers in your city are using. It is also important to realize that a large part of your business will come through word of mouth referrals. How successful you are in getting referrals from your existing customers will depend on how good they perceived your catering services to be.

Successful caterers realize that while it is important to focus on the food side of the business it is even more important to focus on the marketing side to have a steady stream of prospective clients coming in all the time. By fine-tuning your marketing and sales for your catering business start-up you will be setting yourself up for a great deal of success.