Ways to Start Conversations with Your Marketing Chef Deb Culinary Business Coach

Do you know the power that a simple conversation can have on your business? Probably more than you think. Marketers are acknowledging that we have started to automate too much – whether it’s automating emails or mindlessly scheduling pictures on Facebook and Instagram and collecting “likes.” The bottom line is, is that no one likes to be sold to and with increased noise online, what we’ve been doing over the last few years is no longer working. People tune it out.

Yesterday, I listened to “The Conversational Marketing Summit” put on by Drift. In this online summit, they had several high-profile marketers speak about how starting conversations with our audience is critical. What do they mean by that? They mean that it’s time to revisit the basics and interact like a human with other humans to prime them up to be sold to. Sounds reasonable right?

They shared examples of several areas in your marketing that you can start conversations, but I wanted to cover a few of the highlights here.

Social Media

Stop posting pictures and “setting it and forgetting it.” It’s time to create posts that initiate conversations and get people to write meaningful comments. The more comments they leave and interactions they have with you, the more likely they are to be a future customer, once they’ve built that relationship and interest with you.

Some examples of conversation starter posts include:

“Which Are You?” Posts  – these type of posts ask people to identify themselves a certain way, which people love to do. For example, you could post a picture of a pumpkin and apple pie side by side and ask them which one they prefer. We have actually done this on our own platform before and it was wildly successful.

Coat-Tail Post –  Tag the people and places on your page that your ideal client most likely “hang out” or pages they interact with. For example, whenever we are featured in a magazine we tag that magazine or if we catered an event at a high-end store our clients go to, we make sure to tag their store in our post. This allows the right people to find you under the “community” tab on Facebook.

Host a Literal Treasure Hunt Post – Some businesses are hosting an in-person treasure hunt to find a certain item they have hidden and then they have to report back and post a picture when they’ve found it. This is a bit more elaborate, but it’s a fun way to start conversations with people.

Fill in the blank Posts – “I would rather be _______,” “If I could have one superpower it would be ________ ”

Never Have I Ever Posts – You can post a list of veggies that say something like “Give yourself one point for every item you have never tried.”

There are a lot of ways to get people to respond if you understand what motivates humans to interact with you. Of course, you want your posts to stay somewhat related to what you do so it all ties in. You can ask them to post gif in the comments, the last photo in their camera roll, emojis and so much more. We need to start using social media in a way that starts conversations so that we bridge the gap a bit more between consumer and business.


I know each of you understand the importance of videos in your marketing, but how many of you actually post videos? I think a lot of what holds food entrepreneurs back from making videos is that they feel like they all have to professionally shot and edited. That’s not the case these days. If you’re wanting a video for social media, a simple tripod and your phone and good lighting will be enough.

Video is the closest medium you have to talking face to face with a potential customer, which is what makes it so powerful. Video is a great way to start conversations and to come across more human.

Here are the  4 E’s that all videos must have:

  1. Engaging – we’re hardwired to engage in storytelling
  2. Emotional – opportunity to evoke emotional
  3. Educational – we process visual information and retain it longer
  4. Empathetic – Can develop trust and human empathy


This was a really interesting topic discussed that really changed my whole perspective on email marketing. How many of us have Mailchimp or another automated email system? Probably most of us. Sadly, these automated, branded emails just don’t quite cut it anymore. Stats show that email click through rates are going down, which means email is not working for us like it should and can be. Contrary to popular belief, email marketing is not dead, but the way we are doing it is.

All of the great marketers like Seth Godin are writing emails in a way that come across more like a friend who sent you an email. Maybe you’ve seen them – they’re written more like a narrative and some of them can be really long. Some of them share a story. That goes against a lot of what “best practices” we were taught, but now is the time to break rules in email marketing because what we’ve been doing isn’t working.

Some of the suggestions made included:

  • Getting rid of your logo at the top of your emails, so it looks like it came from a real person instead of a company.
  • Shy away from using call to action buttons, instead ask them to hit “reply” to the email or click a link to start a conversation with you on FB messenger. Marketers are finding that more people were willing to chat online versus call your business directly and talk to you or respond to a call to action.
  • Don’t feel like you have to send these long, fancy surveys to your subscribers. Instead, send them an email that simply asks them how their experience was and gather feedback that way.

These were just a few things that I learned from this summit. As you can tell, it was very informative and it really helped me understand how I need to approach my marketing moving forward. Being too salesy isn’t working anymore so we need to make meaningful connections with people instead. I know you are probably feeling a bit frustrated at this point. Here you’ve been told to do all these things and now they are saying to do something different, but unfortunately, that is the nature of marketing and the changing online landscape.

Once you can start more conversations with potential customers, you are well on your way to building trust and turning that person into a customer.


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