Foodie Marketing for Beginners with Dan Clapson, Ep #43

Foodie Marketing for Beginners with Dan Clapson, Ep #43

Kayla Graham

You’ve opened a restaurant and have an exciting concept but have no idea where to start with marketing. Maybe you’ve thrown some photos on Instagram and have some word-of-mouth going—but is it enough? In this episode of Content Callout, Dan Clapson—the co-founder and Creative Director of Eat North—shares some tips and strategies from his years of experience. Don’t miss it!

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:36] The journey to creating Eat North
  • [2:10] Marketing for a new restaurant
  • [5:05] A conversation about food influencers
  • [10:56] Incorporating traditional media + social media
  • [16:16] The importance of supporting local
  • [21:05] Marketing an event vs. restaurants
  • [26:21] How to market a food event
  • [28:08] Dealing with a lack of budget
  • [30:35] Advice for those just getting started
  • [36:53] How to connect with Dan + Eat North

Marketing for a new restaurant

Marketing a new product, new food service, or new restaurant is immensely important. Dan notes that it’s interesting to see how people allocate a budget. He jokes that it’s similar to shopping for jeans. One person will spend $200, and another will only spend $20. It can be hard to convince restaurants to spend money on marketing.

He believes the best way to get the word out about a new restaurant is through Instagram. Instagram allows you to market with a small budget. You can simply hire a food photographer to take a ton of pictures of your food. Putting in this money at the beginning provides a lot of assets to market yourself throughout the year.

If you don’t want to hire a food photographer—which Dan strongly suggests you do—you can often find a novice photographer for under $1,000 that can get you a lot of imagery. As long as you have an excellent phone and great lighting (like a ring light), you can take high-quality photos.

What about using influencers? Listen to hear Dan’s thoughts on food influencers!

Incorporating traditional media + social media

Dan believes that any press is good press. He appreciates any media platform that will help support his events or strengthen his brand. Mike’s Bloggity Blog tweeted a couple of years ago and said, “I don’t understand why small businesses don’t have Twitter accounts when this is a free platform for you to use.” It may not be as popular as it used to be, but Dan took that to heart. You want to spread yourself as far and wide as you can. So many people still watch TV and listen to the radio. Radio and TV clips still go online.

Dealing with a lack of budget—and time

Dan believes that you shouldn’t be afraid to ask your peers for help. They’ll either help you or just say no. If you work in the media realm, maybe you have an old email with a press release you can mimic and send yourself. There are resources available if you spend the time looking for them.

If you’re looking for a better way to engage on Instagram, look to see what your peers are doing. If you’re taking photos on your phone and they look awful, and you’re getting 25 likes, there’s a reason for that. Be critical of your own social feeds and learn how to improve them.

Keep in mind that there are unconventional solutions. What are they? Dan shares a few more ideas, so keep listening.

Advice for those just getting started

Dan used to have a blog called “Dan’s Good Side,” and all of his social handles reflect that. When Twitter had just come out, and Facebook pages were new, he made sure all of his online presence was categorized under the same name. It’s something simple that people don’t think about. Whenever a new social platform comes out, Dan will immediately claim his handle on it to avoid losing it.

Just liking food might not be enough anymore. If you highlight Vietnamese Cuisine in Western Canada, you can become an expert in that area over time. You need to have a clear vision of what you want to convey in your feed.

Dan gets tired of seeing people only do paid content posts. It gets hard to see what their original content feed is, so he recommends you stray away from that. It’s not all about making money at the end of the day.

Eleven years ago, Dan focused on recipe development and home cooking (and he wanted his own cookbook). It evolved into reviewing restaurants. You never fully know where things will take you, but it’s important to start with a clear vision in mind.

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