Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Lots of foodservice products?
Where to start with video?

You have a thousand or more foodservice products but a tiny budget to spend on creating dynamic media like web videos. What shall you do?

This question often comes our way.  Many are still experimenting with this new-fangled world of dynamic video content… so, it’s understandable that it might be daunting to create a video for every product!

Here are three recommendations….
  • Start with bestselling product “families.”   Create overview videos of your best-selling product lines which could represent dozens (if not more!) individual products.  Besides, videos are best at highlighting key features and benefits that inspire operators… leave the small details for a downloadable PDF that sits alongside the video.  You can produce a few family videos quickly and have a decent representation of your product lines.  These videos will anchor your content as you…. 
  • Add shorter videos about new products as they launch.  Nothing refreshes an older product family than a line extension!  And exploring exciting new developments in a 60- or 90-second video story will give brokers, DSRs and operators something to talk about — even if your base product has been around for decades (if not centuries!). These short product update videos will comfortably start an…
  • Automatic video development process.  No manufacturer or distributor would think of marketing or selling products without a sell sheet.  But sell sheets don’t do much to motivate foodservice operators in this increasingly visual world.   Dynamic and more “human” communications are beginning to separate the winners from the losers. The poster child for this trend is Zappos.com, the online shoe company.  Click on any product to watch a product demo.  Zappo’s individual videos of shoes have reportedly helped increase sales by 15% or more.  But Zappos is not alone… everyday products like coffee mugs are getting in on the act!
The trick is to get into a routine of creating videos much like you do with sell sheets.   And, fortunately, new technology is enabling the creation of short, powerful videos that actually cost less than developing a sell sheet (call us… we can help with this!).

Happy marketing and selling!




Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Producing the "perfect" foodservice video


We often get the question… “what is in the ‘perfect’ video that features a foodservice manufacturer’s products?

Our answer is always the same.  The “perfect video” doesn’t exist.

Just like there’s no perfect Bruce Springsteen song… everybody has a different opinion!  But… there are a few fundamentals to get close to perfection…

  • First, shorter is better — two minutes or less.  However, there are many exceptions depending on the topic and audience.  Which leads to…
  • Select the primary audience and then determine what is appropriate.  Internal audiences or brokers have more stamina for longer videos because they have a vested interest in being the ultimate product experts. Distributor sales reps, on the other hand, will generally turn off after 2 minutes because your product is one of thousands they represent.
  • The audience also determines the content.   Turnover among distributor reps tends to be high… so even the most basic info like how the product is packed is critical to these folks.  For veterans, it’s more about the selling points that will intrigue operator customers.  Videos for an operator need a little of both — some inspirational ideas on how to use the products along with practical facts that help an operator determine if his kitchen can handle the product.
  • Worry less about the “human” delivering the information in the video.  The product itself is what viewers ultimately care about. Operators (particularly independents or non-commercial) are not overly impressed because a “chef” is delivering the info.  In fact, it can have the opposite effect on some operators who aren’t classically trained… they assume the product is complicated or expensive if it takes a chef to explain things.  That's not the chef's fault... it's just a perception thing.
  • Keep it basic… videos should be workhorses that inform more than entertain.  There’s little incremental value in creating an elaborate “branding” deliverable or going to the expense of showing happy consumers.  The goal should be about conveying relevant content that overly stressed-and-struggling operators or sales reps will value (i.e. don’t send them a commercial, but something that really builds their knowledge).

Stay tuned for our next blog… we’ll discuss a commonsense strategy for building an effective library of videos without breaking the budget.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Distributors key to foodservice video success

Foodservice distributors are in perhaps the best position of any "media outlet" to deliver all types of marketing content out to operators.  Heck, distributors have a captured audience of operator-customers that is unrivaled.


A built-in audience, however, is no guarantee that anybody will pay attention! It still comes down to the value of the content being provided.  That's where some distributors are separating from the pack by offering more compelling info like videos that attract a bigger crowd.

And if done right, a video can be leveraged for multiple purposes if you keep five keys points in mind…

  • Make it easy to modify.  Video editing is relatively simple these days.  So, by adding a different intro gives a video a “custom feel”… yet, the same basic content can be distributed to different audience or even to competitors!  Legacy Foodservice Alliance works with its manufacturer partners to create videos for the Legacy internal training system… but then hands over a generic version without their Legacy intro so a supplier can use elsewhere. Talk about partnership with suppliers!  See example below.

  • Make it actionable.  Attach a downloadable rebate form, sell sheet, or other info alongside the video.  Operators who watch a video are likely interested in the product and are ready to give it a try — especially if you give them a nudge.  It’s the easiest way to create focused “mini campaign” in partnership with a supplier.  And you can post all of this on GradeAtv.com.  Click here for an example.
  • Make it shareable. The best way to an operator’s heart (and ultimately checkbook!) is to be a genuine information resource and partner.  Emailing a video filled with application ideas is easy these days.  Give it a try… click the envelope icon above this video and email it to a friend.
  • Make it mobile.  Smart phones, iPads and tablets are rapidly becoming the sales tools of choice.  You can now view or email easily right on a smart phone… it sure beats firing up a laptop to show an operator a simple video.  Go head… call up GradeAtv.com on your smart phone and start viewing and sharing!
  • Make it consistent.  Distributing a video a few times a year is useless.  It’s like advertising… you need to consistently offer up valuable content to drive audience building.  Take Agar Foodservice.  They have built an ever-increasing audience of prospects and loyal customers through ongoing idea sharing with their blog and videos (see an example below).


    OK, now go build an audience (or call us and we can help).

Monday, June 4, 2012

Foodservice marketers… what’s in your web address?


Introducing a new foodservice product is a monumental task… made even more complicated because marketing communications channels are becoming more fractured.

It’s tough to know where a potential customer might learn about your product.  Your company website.  Ad campaign.  Email blast.  Brokers.  Social media.  Distributors.  Direct mail. Trade shows.  Press mentions.  But there’s one fact that does remain consistent.

Most foodservice operators routinely research products — someway, somehow — by going online.  You just don’t know if that’s by searching  a distributor’s online product catalog… or seeing an ad pop up on FOHBOH… or conducting a search on Google… or receiving a web link in a broker’s email… or, or, or…

That’s why locking down an optimal URL (i.e. web address) that you can use with all of these communications channels can be the one constant in an otherwise chaotic environment.  And, no, that doesn’t mean  you should use your company’s main web address on everything because that forces operators to plod through your website.  Ideally, you want them to immediately zero in on your product info.

The cheapest — yet high-value marketing step — you can take is to register a simple URL for the product.  This “address” can then easily be re-directed anywhere you want people to go for months and years to come.  It’s a virtual directional sign that provides the flexibility to lead prospective customers as your marketing campaigns morph along the way.

Say you’re the marketing manager at  the Tulsa Crab Company (Oklahoma’s largest and only land-locked crab product processor).  You’re about to launch Creamy Crab Ice Cream… yum!  You could follow conventional wisdom and add your company web address — TulsaCrabCompany.com — to all your outbound marketing.

But the more optimal solution is to register a new URL — CrabIceCream.com.  This gives you many advantages (and will still drive traffic to your main site):

  • Search engines place a high priority on URLs that include key search terms.  Odds are operators will remember something about “crab ice cream.”  It’s equally true that they may not remember who makes it.  When they search “crab ice cream,” your special link will probably be at the top of the heap.
  • CrabIceCream.com gives you complete flexibility.  In the first month, you can direct users to a general information web page about the product.  Later, you may want to point them to crab ice cream recipes.  A few months down the road you might offer a rebate program.  No searching your website once the “launch honeymoon” is over and your product is no longer featured on the company homepage.  Operators will find your product faster whether the lead comes from a distributor, broker, ad or other communications channel.  See our earlier post about key communications channels where you should include this link.
  • Somewhat boring, descriptive URLs work better than romantic website addresses.  CrabDessertSensations.com may sound more appealing… but the common descriptive terms in CrabIceCream.com will provide better search results.

Now… just imagine, locking down that URL.   Redirect them to a GradeAtv.com page where they can see the crab ice cream in an action-packed video with a downloadable rebate form.  A few months later once the new product luster has dimmed, start sending visitors to your latest promotion.  A year later… when you launch the “low cal” version of crab ice cream, re-direct visitors to a sweepstakes promo… all using the same CrabIceCream.com address.

Targeted and snappy… yet flexible and happy.  That’s what special URLs are all about.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Foodservice distributors as movie producers


The cliché goes… foodservice operators buy food with their eyes.

So it makes sense that many larger foodservice distributors, like US Foods, are finding that a well-produced video goes a long way to influence an operator’s buying decision… it’s the next best thing to an actual (expensive!) in-person product cutting.  Plus video can be posted, emailed and even viewed on a mobile device pretty easily these days.

But finding the resources to build a consistent
video campaign is not so easy!

Our next few blog entries are going to highlight some superb distributor video examples … along with lessons we’ve learned in how to squeeze the most value out of your video investment.

Example:  US Foods
Lesson:  Video costs too much — well, not necessarily!


US Foods has one of the largest YouTube video channels among distributors out there.  The videos are informal, personality driven, great quality and, best of all, informative!

Of course, being one of the largest distributors around gives US Foods the ability to spread the cost over its vast company network.  And USF can focus a lot of attention on their exclusive company brands that tend to be more profitable.

Only a few distributors have the resources and dedication to maintain a similar major video initiative.   But if you see video as the valuable sales tool that it is… but can’t quite pony up the investment, here are a few considerations:
  • Video content is busting out everywhere… you don’t need to be in the movie-producing business yourself.  Manufacturers are hungry to work with distributors to produce short, targeted content you can use.  The downside… the content won’t be exclusively yours.  But the upside is most video can be quickly and inexpensively customized to have an “exclusive” feel (and the supplier may likely pick up the customization tab on your behalf).
  • Managing an ongoing video initiative can be a lot of work (i.e. expensive!) if using your own human resources.  But, again, that’s where GradeAtv.com comes into play.  We can schedule, handle the details and line up the appropriate videos with suppliers on your behalf.  Oh, and there’s no cost to you in many cases!
  • Another cost-saver and profit builder is to include downloadable information like rebates, sell sheets and other info along with the video.  This basic “call to action” is a huge missed opportunity by most because it requires more time and web development to embellish a YouTube like video.  With GradeAtv.com, the work to offer downloads is already done and is free to use!
Stay tuned for our next chapter on Building an audience for your video.

In the meantime... got questions?  Contact us and let’s chat.

Monday, May 21, 2012

A marketing opportunity often missed



There is a small elite group who determine which foodservice products rise or fall in any given market.   A decision by these folks will amplify (or undermine) all of your marketing plans in short order.  Are you considering them in your marketing plan?

Welcome to the world of foodservice distributor buyers who wield enormous influence in the decision to stock your product in their local warehouse.

Not being stocked in the warehouse means your marketing investment to inspire foodservice operators is in serious jeopardy... and your launch of the new hot-dog-wrapped-in-roasted-banana-leaves goes poof!

Most manufacturer reps or brokers who work with buyers will tell you that tools and insights to build product knowledge that influences decision-making among buyers (beyond the basic product features and benefits) are in short supply.

Seeing a product in a 360-degree fashion via a 90-second video provides buyers a better understanding about a product’s value that often gets missed in a static sell sheet.  Have you purchased a new car or other major item lately without watching a demo video on the web?  Foodservice buyers are no different if a video is available when it comes to considering a new product!

Fortunately, video is now simple to distribute directly to buyers through online networks like the Dot Foods Expressway.  Dot is the largest "redistributor" that sells products from 700 manufacturers (maybe yours?) to 3,600 mainline distributors. The Expressway is Dot's online ordering system... but also represents a huge marketing opportunity as the system also has become a critical product research and product reference tool for buyers.

The Expressway would be viewed as an marquee marketing platform with no equals if it wasn't tucked inside a distribution sales system (many marketers don't know it exists!).  Think of it as an Amazon.com for a highly qualified audience of foodservice buyers who search the Expressway 11,000 times every day.

When is the best time to market?  When the audience is ready to buy!

Here’s the crazy part… only about 10,000 of the 100,000 products in the Expressway have links to videos or other extended product information or training (although more links are being added at a very rapid clip).

Oddity #2.  Your company is probably already set up to add links into the Expressway through the Global Data Synchronization Network (GDSN)… the backbone of the new-fangled UPC numbering system called Global Trade Identification Number.  The Expressway taps into this universal database of “nuts-and-bolts” product info — including links you provide via the GDSN to related video pages and the like.

Dot also automatically links product listings to Food Profile, the  third-party product and nutritional database that can include hyperlinks.

Of course, GDSN is used by many other distributors, so your links will likely appear in other influential databases.  But the benefits from the Dot Expressway alone are well worth the effort.

Now… the question becomes which link should you use and why?

Stay tuned… that’s our next blog entry.  Of course, call us if you just can’t wait until then  :>)

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

NRA is over… now what?


The National Restaurant Association show wrapped up with an attendance that was to exceed 58,000 operators.  Kudos to the NRA for organizing another phenomenal gathering of operators.

But, in the big scheme of things, NRA attendance only represents about six percent of the operators out there. And actually a lot fewer than 6 percent once you subtract vendors, friends and family!

So, how are you reaching the other 94%?

Whether you exhibited at the NRA show this year or not, one thing is for sure...

Any new products you launched in around the show are now floating in a sea of other product announcements…  bobbing around hoping somebody notices.  The NRA says thousands of new products were launched at the show… let alone thousands of other introductions timed to draft off the NRA excitement.

Announcing a new product at NRA is like singing a quiet ballad in the middle of the Super Bowl.  The noise is so loud that only a handful will notice.  And among those who notice, most won’t care!

The value in learning about a new product on a bustling show floor can’t be minimized.  It’s downright fun and inspiring when a new product clicks for an operator during the show.

So, capture some of the excitement and let your company reps, brokers and distributor partners hand-deliver a similar experience to other operators (as well as those who attended).

  • Produce a fast-paced video that talks to the applications of your product.  It’s the next best thing to being there!  Then add the video to a branded Grade A TV landing page that includes a link to an online sample request form (it’s simple and inexpensive to setup).  This is close to the show’s one-two punch of “seeing it”… and then believing it when they can touch and feel the sample.
  • Get your reps, brokers and distributors engaged.  Create a special PDF sell sheet that links to the video when emailed.  Make the PDF customizable so brokers or distributors add their own contact info and logo.  (We’ll help you create a “fill-in-the-blank” PDF if you’ve never done one.)   Field folks love this because they have a world-class marketing piece that maintains the manufacturer’s brand identity… but provides a more elegant option to stapling on a business card so an operator knows who to call.  Besides, have you tried emailing a sell sheet with a business card stapled to it lately :>)
  • Create a “remember this” landing page that includes the video.  Remind the operators who attended the show with  a brief email that quickly demos the product again.  And then sweeten the deal… include a link to a rebate form that motivates them to try the product.

There you have it.  Produce one simple video the right way and you can triple its value… and rise above all the NRA clatter.  And all three ideas above are inexpensive and turnkey with all setup provided by the Grade A TV crew.

Happy selling and marketing (and Happy Mother’s Day!).