The million dollar question seems to be “how do I stand out during the holiday season?” Food is a competitive industry enough but add the holidays on top of that and it seems like a recipe for failure! Even though the holidays can be an intimidating time for chefs, don’t let your fears give you what I call “paralysis analysis,” where your fear of failing keeps you from taking action. There’s no need to give up or throw your towel in. I’ve rounded up my best tips for helping YOU stand out this holiday season so that people will pay attention to your offerings despite the loudness of the holiday season.
Don’t Try to Compete with the Big Wigs – Is there a high-end supermarket in town that offers holidays meals and catering like you do? In my city, there is a popular grocery store called that offer holiday meals similar to mine. However, I’ve found that it’s better NOT to try and compete with them but to do something different so that people want to buy ours for different reasons. This is why it’s important to keep your eye on the competition at all times to see what others are doing and how you can attract people by my unique offerings. The good news is, you’ve most likely built up a clientele who are going to trust you and only you to make their holiday meals. That is a plus!
Offer Something New – This might seem like a no-brainer, but why don’t you offer a new spin on holiday food this year that no on else is doing? Year after year I kept hearing from clients that they didn’t want traditional meals. They wanted more unconventional dishes because they were sick of the old turkey and green bean casserole. That’s when I decided to amp up my menu and offer things like Sarsparilla ham and scalloped potatoes with roasted chiles. Local grocery stores certainly aren’t offering dishes like that so it already sets me apart and makes my service more appealing.
Give People a Real Incentive – With so many options for the holidays, people are going to feel underwhelmed by your offerings if there is no real incentive to purchase especially when there are so many great deals during the holidays. Different things motivate different people, but everyone loves free stuff. Why not offer a free dessert with a purchase of a catering? Or a free bottle of wine?
Make it Easy to Purchase – People like easy. Do you have an easy process for people to contact you or to make a purchase for this particular service? I know that for many of us, we customize every service so it’s difficult to package it all up and put a price on it…you don’t have to do that. But at least have a form on your website that answers some of the questions like how many guests they will have, that asks them what holiday they want meals for, etc. Save yourself some time and get people started with the process on your website so they feel like they are “ordering” something.
Post Pictures of Your Food on Your Website and Social Media – Again, this might seem obvious, but are you sharing professional photos of some of the holiday dishes you have cooked? I can’t emphasize enough how much pictures sell your food. Like they say, a picture is worth a thousand words! We had our photographer take pictures of our holiday food back in September to prepare for all of the holiday promotions and emails we’d be sending out.
Collaborate – The holidays are a perfect time to collaborate with influential lifestyle bloggers in your area that share your same target market. Maybe you can put together a holiday party/shoot and offer your food for free. Most bloggers require compensation but some are open to exchanging services. It just depends on how big their audience is. Bloggers are great to collaborate with in the food world because they usually take great photography and it elevates your own brand if you pair with a serious blogger whose site looks polished and offers valuable content. It also allows you to reach a bigger audience with your holiday meals.
Another idea is to collaborate with other local small businesses like spas, boutiques, jewelry stores, etc. that also share a similar target audience and do a holiday deal on an item you package together. One idea might be offering $25 off a PC service when you purchase a spa service. Things like that will raise awareness in the community about your holiday services.
These are just a few ideas that will hopefully get your creative juices flowing on how to make YOUR culinary business stand out this holiday season. Don’t let yourself get discouraged if things slow down, do your best to at least do ONE of the following!