Food provenance has never been more important to consumers than it is today. With health and ethical issues featuring highly in buying decisions, specialist food producers, retailers, and brands need to demonstrate provenance quickly and, crucially, in an authentic and truthful way.
The good news is that many smaller, artisan producers have a head start over larger food manufacturers and retailers when it comes to achieving this goal. The even better news is, that with a little creative thought, doing so needn’t cost a fortune.
So, with that in mind, here are our top tips for communicating the provenance of your brand and ensuring consumers are aware of just how much hard work and passion goes into creating your products:
Develop a strong back story
A strong back story is fundamental to provenance. As an artisan producer, there are reasons you started the business you did, whether it was a farm diversification project, a gap in the market, discovering something abroad that you wanted to bring to the UK market, or just a great idea that came to you completely out of the blue. However you started, the fact is that most artisan producers share several attributes which should form the core of any back story – a huge passion for their products; commitment, as far as possible, to local produce; simple and transparent manufacturing processes; a no-compromise attitude towards quality.
Demonstrating and communicating an authentic back story is a very powerful tool for smaller producers, and should form the basis of their communications strategy. Larger brands, with their complicated supply chains and contract manufacturing operations, often struggle to do this authentically, honestly even in some cases, handing an advantage to their artisan cousins.
Having a website in this day and age is a no-brainer but it is amazing the number of small producers that don’t. If you haven’t got one, now is the time to remedy that. They don’t cost the earth and will be one of the best investments you make.
A website is the place to tell your back story and demonstrate your values to potential consumers. Every page should be designed not just to give consumers information, but to reinforce the provenance of your products and how they meet the demands of increasingly food-savvy consumers. Ask yourself, or a friend, if each page does that. Is your back story, your values, your personality, evident throughout your website? If not, you could be missing a trick.
Personalise your brand
Ever noticed how supermarket packaging often features a picture of the farmer who supposedly supplied the product? Clearly, that is aimed at personalising the brand to add provenance to the product.
Bringing personality to brands is a powerful way of creating a connection with customers. By sharing values, personality traits, even a sense of humour, we connect as human beings.
This is much easier for smaller producers to achieve than huge, corporate brands whose efforts often look less than authentic. Let your website demonstrate the personality of your business to help make those human connections, along with your other marketing assets. Which brings me neatly on to our next tip …
Social media is another great way to add personality to your brand and tell your back story. It’s been said many times before, but social media isn’t just a way to push out sales messages and special offers, although used sparingly, that is allowed.
Used strategically, social media shapes your brand, personalises your business, demonstrates your values and makes sincere connections with consumers. Posting a mixture of content across different platforms will generate the best results, and investing in sponsored posts and adverts will vastly extend your reach. One thing, however, don’t forget to answer people if they take the trouble to leave comments. Social media is about engagement and by not engaging, you risk losing potential fans and customers.
Transparency is at a premium when it comes to provenance. If the ingredients you use are local and your manufacturing processes are simple, then sharing this is a great way to demonstrate the authenticity of your back story and your values. How best to do this? Well, that brings me on to my next tip …
A picture might tell a thousand words, but in the age of digital marketing, video is king. Video is revolutionising online content and that is something all businesses need to consider. For facts and figures around the relevance of video, check out our own video here. You might be surprised at just how effective it is for marketing your business.
For artisan producers, video provides the opportunity to show consumers your provenance. That’s not to say you need to give away all your secrets; videos can be edited to ensure parts of your processes that need protecting can be. But when it comes to demonstrating the provenance, video has no equal.
However, don’t forget photography. Food photography is such big business because it creates a strong desire. Pictures make great content and done well, play into your back story, your values, your authenticity and ultimately, your provenance. But one final tip to be aware of when it comes to visual content; quality. Don’t let just anyone with a smart phone make your videos and take your pictures. Get someone who knows what they are doing. It needn’t break the bank.
Blogging is a great way to tell your news, reassert your values, provide industry comment, and give information about your products and processes, all of which makes great social media content. Blogs don’t have to be just text, short video blogs (vlogs) make great content, as do photographs that display and explain aspects of your business. Adding regular content to your website also helps your search engine optimisation (SEO – essentially how findable you are on Google), which will help more consumers find your products.
So those are our top tips for demonstrating provenance. If that all sounds a bit daunting then don’t worry, we’re here to help and can provide expert assistance to fit any budget.
Simply drop us a line to discuss any requirements you may have. We’d love to be part of your journey.