There never is such a thing as “I have too many clients,” which means you always want to generate catering leads to bring work to your business and, you know, make money. After all, leads are the fuel that helps every business grow and sustain itself.
Although every niche is competitive and the simple fact of generating leads can be challenging, the number of channels available to work on your lead generation process is way more than a decade ago, even two years ago only.
Just keep in mind that some work better than others depending on the type of person or business you are running, which means that although almost everyone will use some, it doesn’t mean it will work for yours.
If you are in need of more catering sales leads, start by checking out all the different options you can use for collection and how to utilize them so you receive the highest qualified leads possible. Take the time with each one, but only if you’re tracking results.
We know it is a challenge, so allow us to help with some recommendations, and the lead generation strategies we are confident will work for catering businesses.
Set Your Google Alerts, Even When They Are Annoying
The best tool that costs zero money is all about lead scoring and lead generation. Thus, you need to aim and focus on a catering lead-generating tool that costs you nothing yet helps you generate qualified leads, and many of them at that.
One that has proven to be amazing is Google Alerts!
With this tool, you can set up alerts for specific phrases or keywords. When you set one, the system will send you an email based on a mention of the phrase that pops up on the web.
- Try an alert for “new venue in [CITY]” so you can learn about new venues near your place or in the area, you work with and be there before your competitors.
- Another good idea is to set an alert for the name of your top competitors’ brands, so you know what they are doing and what is working for them.
Don’t Forget About Pay-Per-Click (PPC)
PPC (Pay-per-click) advertising can be one of the most effective ways to help your catering company reach new customers. If you aren’t familiar with them or more like their name, these ads appear at the top search results and above organic listings.
When you run lead generation ads, they are able to attract qualified leads who are ready and willing to convert since PPC visitors are 50% more likely to convert than organic visitors. Why? Because they have a better idea of what they want and what they’re looking for.
These leads will only need to find the right company to meet their needs, so you just want to be there for when that happens.
You must choose keywords before you can start to use PPC ads. Keyword selection will determine if your ad appears in the relevant search results, and knowing the right keywords to get your ad in front of the relevant leads will be crucial.
Keyword research can help you identify the best keywords for your campaign. When you do it, focus on long-tail keywords. These keywords contain at least three words and are less competitive than regular short-tail keywords with one or two words. For example, “catering services in [CITY]” will be more likely to have fewer competitors and target qualified leads than “catering services.”
Leads that are specifically interested in your business will be attracted to you with the use of long-tail more than anything else.
After you’ve selected your long-tail keywords, you can bid for your ad placement. Your maximum bid is the price you are willing to pay for each click on your ad, and you change this amount at any time.
Your maximum bid and quality score will determine your ad’s placement. After you have received your placement, launch your advertising campaign.
Keep in mind that you can continue using short tail ones, but don’t spend your budget on them since you might end up regretting the choice by seeing no results at all.
Content Marketing Can Be Your Everything
Content marketing can help you get leads who are looking for information since it provides valuable information to your audience about your company, catering industry, and services.
This strategy will help drive traffic to your site, and after they have read the information, they spend time getting to know you and your brand in most cases.
Keyword research is essential in order to start content marketing as well, just like with PPC.
The same process of looking for keywords (which can be the same you use for the previous strategy) can help you identify topics for your content and drive to your site when you look for popular terms and create content about them.
Sticking to industry-related topics is a good idea. Although it’s tempting to write content about trending topics, this will not help your business attract the most leads to your website. People will care more about the topic and hire your catering company if it is entirely related to what you do and, of course, informational.
You have many options for content to provide information. These include videos, blogs, infographics, e-books, and regular books. It may take some time to make some more than others, but choose the one you feel comfortable the most with (though videos tend to be more popular).
Also, you may need to pick at least two options to keep your audience engaged and interested.
We can give you a tip to keep your audience in mind when you create content.
Your audience deserves the best possible answers. Consider the user’s search intent and what they would expect to find when they click on your site.
Marketing Via Social Media
Social media marketing allows you to connect with people who are interested in your catering business without having to work too hard, even when social media isn’t exactly that easy.
However, you are more exposed when you choose those platforms since people tend to spend more time on this media than any other. So by being on Facebook, Instagram, or just any, you are being exposed; you just need to know how to make it work.
According to statistics, over 73% of users spent about 4 hours on social media in 2021, and many of them hire services or buy products based on what they find there. This percentage seems to increase by 2022.
To reach your audience on social media, you can use many platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Depending on the time your audience spends the time in and the type of content you are going to share, you will choose your platform (or several ones).
Social platforms offer more content options, while others have a greater focus on specific types or the usual text.
This strategy will be a great way to engage since your audience can share your content to their profile, and you will be exposed to all of their friends on this social platform. This opens up new opportunities for leads to your business.
You can also get new leads by paying social ads. Every social media platform has a paid advertising option that can be more functional when you target the right audience and get qualified leads as a result.
Social media is full of potential prospects or clients. But you need to know how to compete and stand out from other caterers on the platforms.
Did You Set Your Ideal Client?
Imagine your ideal client and make sure you have a good idea of who it is. Otherwise, you won’t know whom you’re actually targeting and if this person includes the aspects you’re actually looking for in your buyer persona.
This exercise will cover everything, from their age and interests to the hobbies they enjoy, and the answers or details you come up with will be the perfect profile for your client.
If you don’t know how to do this, consider:
- To see what clients your competitors have worked with, take a look at their portfolios, and you might find clients from there or have a good idea of their ideal clients that should be similar.
- Search engines can help you find profiles and better understand the ideal clients.
- Take a look at past clients or those who have shown interest in your services so far.
You Need a Lead Funnel (Also Known as Sales Funnel)
A lead funnel describes the steps that potential customers will follow until they reach the final step you have set for it; this will be either giving their contact info and converting into leads or taking them to the final part of turning into clients.
The idea of your lead funnel is to guide, persuade, and win new business from the first contact until sale.
This can be complicated when you consider all of the ways that a person can find out about a company (word-of-mouth, online, or the lead generation strategies we are discussing here, etc.). But for the most part, you can concentrate your sales efforts on just 1-3 major customer paths.
After you create a lead funnel, which may take some trial and error initially, all you need to do is be consistent with it so new leads are coming in on a regular schedule.
Your funnel might look like this:
- You call/email potential clients and tell them your elevator pitch.
- To learn more, they schedule an in-person meeting with you.
- You provide additional documents to support the vision and build trust after the meeting.
- They reply positively and send you a contract for the catering.
There are many examples of sales funnels that have been successful, but everything that matters is to create a tailored one for your business.
Always Focus on Quality
When it comes to securing catering clients, targeting well-researched and vetted prospects will be your best option because you aren’t aiming for a large number of leads but rather guaranteeing they are qualified ones.
After all, one client comes with great profit.
Most catering companies in your niche believe that the more leads they generate, the better their companies will get, but if none of these leads are high-quality ones, there won’t be any value added to your services and business.
Although focusing on quality means you will have fewer responses or traffic overall for possible new catering clients, you already know that they will be more open to working with you because the ones falling into your funnel are truly interested in your catering services.
Overall, you might find that you have fewer options but higher payouts. This is what it means to work smarter and not harder.
But for this to work, you will need to build your ideal customer profile before you can choose whom to pitch to. Then, go back to the previous strategy, so you don’t waste your time.
A Customer Referrals Program
If you want to find high-quality leads and get more without that much effort, you should do what many of your competitors are doing: setting a program to get offline and online referrals.
Referrals are key to bringing people with the traditional yet effective word-of-mouth strategy: people recommending your services to others. And you must know that this lead generation strategy has proven to be one of the most effective, even with digital marketing and all other options.
However, clients don’t usually recommend your services and company out of goodwill, which is why you will need a referrals program that incentives them to do so.
Referral marketing programs for small businesses can be automated and help to incentivize strong, relationship-based sales lead to your funnel.
You will need to survey your leads internally before you can get started. What are their origins? What is the reason they responded positively to your request? The answers you get will help you choose the right program structure.
Referral programs should be as easy and seamless as possible for participants. It is easy and efficient to forward an email with a link to a referral program or reshare a Facebook post.
Anything that is compatible with your existing lucrative sources of lead generation will work.
Just set all the parameters, “rules,” and benefits there are for them. You want to make sure this program is straightforward, and they know what they are doing when applying for it.
Endorsements & Private Testimonials
Sometimes it can be difficult to reach your dream clients. Well, most of the time.
If you want to break through and make sure your efforts aren’t going to waste, it’s best to infiltrate their network using other professional methods.
You can build your network and close the gap between you and your target audience, which will be more like users in this case since we are focusing on the digital approach.
Networking is always strong and if you don’t know where to get started, attending some events in the niche where one of your prospects will present or give a speech is a great way to do this. Or you can just assist one where you know you can find many leads at once.
Like people who are thinking of organizing a party or any event requiring catering.
They will be more open to your approach to introducing yourself, which means that they’ll be more receptive and willing to meet you. You can also attend many industry events, seminars, and happy hours in your area that could help you get closer to your goals, or maybe host events for everyone.
This can be done online, not only offline, since with COVID-19, events have kind of evolved. Also, you may want to aim to other professionals in the industry, like event planners who need your services for one they are organizing.
On the other hand, remember that social media users are quick. For instance, many LinkedIn users are avid, including personal brand developers and social media content creators. They make it a point to stay informed and well-followed.
You should be doing the same if you notice that your dream clients comment on, like, or share their content.
Just do your best to connect with relevant people and take the time to learn about them. When doing so, don’t be like, “Hey! I offer catering services. Are you interested?”
They want to know about your services, but not right after you say “Hello.” Learn and follow the “process” so you can actually connect with these people and gain something from this whole networking thing.
The Power of Suggestion Is 100/100
To tap into this psychological phenomenon, you will need to modify the way that you communicate with potential clients, which is a bit related to what we mentioned before.
Studies show that you can subconsciously influence the recipient’s behavior by simply suggesting a specific outcome in an email or telephone conversation. Even during networking events, you can get a lot with this phenomenon. This is why the power to suggestion term was created.
Although it may seem far-fetched, it is actually quite powerful. It is used by many entities, including government agencies, criminal investigators, child-rearing experts, and your competitors.
How can you, a catering business owner, use the power and influence of suggestions to attract new clients? You can simply flip the scripts that you use.
You don’t have to leave a voicemail with “Let me know if you’re interested…” or send an email asking for their opinion. Instead, use the power of suggestion and persuade them to achieve your desired outcome.
Don’t let your interactions go to the side. This psychology-based sales trick will help you engage and persuade prospects by changing how you communicate with them every day.
The way you communicate, how assertive it is but also passive when it needs to be (and, naturally, active) will determine how many leads you get. This applies to over 90% of your lead generation strategies and your success rate in improving lead scoring.
We Didn’t Forget About S.M.A.R.T. Goals
This would usually go at the top, and it makes sense since setting goals should be your main worry, but it doesn’t mean it is too late if you haven’t done it or need to modify the ones you already have.
The point of all this is to make sure you set S.M.A.R.T. goals during your kick-off meeting for the upcoming successful event or place you will serve or just a simple base of what you want to achieve for your lead generation strategies.
If you aren’t familiar with this term for goals, the letters stand for:
- Specific: What is the primary purpose of the client that hired your services? Where will it take place? How much will you earn? Can you really handle it? Just be as specific as possible with your questions and answers to set goals that are worth your time and money.
- Measurable: What metrics will you use for success? How will you measure registrations or sign-ups from clients and potential leads that contacted you? Get to know how you can track everything and save the information.
- Actionable: What actions should the sales team and everyone on your business take in order to achieve your stated goals?
- Realistic: What are the outcomes you can realistically expect from the strategies and events or anything you’re working with?
- Time-based: How long will it take you to achieve the goal? This applies to EVERY SINGLE goal you set for your catering company.
Don’t Be Afraid of Emailing Past Clients
We know many people think, “if they didn’t call/email/visit us, we shouldn’t test the waters.” However, if a client used your services and were satisfied, why wouldn’t you knock on the door once more?
This doesn’t apply to clients only but also to those who showed interest before. Remember: your next catering client could already be on your email list; you just haven’t taken the time to get back to them because you’re afraid of a negative response.
In catering, being able to repeat business gold because this means you are bound to have a stable influx of work based on your loyal clients while receiving some new ones.
Therefore, whenever you decide to send the next email to your subscribers, add a few different elements to surface your next catering sales lead:
- You could ask your subscribers for referrals and combine them with a deal based on the program we mentioned earlier.
- Highlight new catering trends. Once done, share them with your prospects to provide information but also have a new interest.
- Showcase stunning catering diagrams to prove your level of service using the easy seating chart maker and make sure you get corporate catering leads or more than one event opportunity.
The Local Lead Generation Process for Your Catering Business
All right! So, everything is about building properties and generating leads. But how does the process actually take place? Are there other steps I need to know?
The steps I mention below are what students from our local lead generation program follow to generate leads for businesses like yourself. So I’ll help you see what we do. And how if you join our program, you can simply generate leads for your own business (unless you want to start a side hustle and build a laptop lifestyle business).
Essentially, our lead generation can be divided into four steps:
The first is prospecting. You need to take the time to do market research on a niche (industry) and determine how many phone-driven businesses are there.
Keep in mind that this is local research as you need to know how many companies need leads. For example, you may search for “plumbing services Youngstown OH.”
You will find dozens or even hundreds of businesses trying to get themselves in front of the customers by ranking on Map Listings, organic results, and even Ad.
The second step, building. When you find a niche (plumbing, tree services, a software company, real estate…), you will need to start building your digital properties. You don’t need to be an expert in HTML or coding. It can be easy with the right tools.
The third step is now taking time to rank your lead gen website. With the site done, you need to work on SEO strategies and start dominating those Google search results. If you’re new to SEO, it stands for Search Engine Optimization.
To keep it simple, it consists of the entire process of growing a company’s visibility on search engines like Google and generating organic traffic. And remember this, local lead generation is part of the strategies.
Moving on to step four, once you rank the site, you will start getting your ROI and profits. You only need to rent it out to a local business interested in the leads the site generates. You can offer a couple of free leads to their move on with the actual pay per lead.
To review steps 1-4 above, I described it to a normal student who is building a lead gen business to help local service providers generate more calls. But replace the student with you as the business owner. And replace sending the leads to a business to simply siphoning the leads to your personal business.
By the way, fun fact, about 20% of our students in our local lead gen program are actually business owners who went through the program. And they use the skillsets we teach to generate leads for their own business.
An Example of Lead Generation: Home Advisor
You must be thinking, “if lead generation sounds so good so far, how come I haven’t seen any company?” That’s the thing; there are many out there. You just don’t know they are dedicated to it.
HomeAdvisor is one of the best examples you can find on the Internet as it is a top lead generation company that has spent millions building its brand but also earned even more zeros for this same reason.
They started small as everyone else but invested in building their brand awareness to make people who are looking for home services go to their website and find what they need. They are over 75% of people’s first choice when they need those services.
If you don’t get HomeAdvisor that much or need a refresh, users need to submit their information to request a service and get a professional or expert who can provide it.
HomeAdvisor’s job is to share your information, which makes you a lead, with local companies so they can contact you and offer the service you’re requesting. For sharing this lead information, HomeAdvisor gets paid by the companies. This happens for every single lead they send to multiple businesses.
Business owners who don’t have marketing skills or don’t even know how to have any online presence will always rely on those pages to list their services. They will save time and effort, but companies like HomeAdvisor can make them spend lots of money as leads aren’t exclusive (one lead is sent to multiple companies after all).
Using Facebook Ads aka Paid Ad Platforms: Do They Generate Leads?
They DO generate leads. If not, no one would use them.
However, you need to remember two facts:
- Paid ads or platforms can be expensive.
- They don’t generate “natural” leads.
Whenever someone sees or clicks in one of those ads, over 80% of them did it by accident or are trying to close/report it.
Why? Because they aren’t looking for those services. At least not at the moment.
What those ads do instead is interrupt their time on the platforms. Users aren’t there to find companies or businesses unless they are searching for a specific company’s user, and for that, there’s a search bar. This is why it is hard to convert them to actual customers who will show interest in the companies’ services. Also, you’re limited by a budget.
When using lead generation, everything is organic. You aren’t forcing others to pay attention to your business but rather being there when they need you. This is why Google’s organic traffic will always beat paid ads, and the reason companies continue investing in it, which is a lot cheaper as well.
What Is Local SEO?
Don’t worry… I didn’t get it at first either. Following the short explanation, local SEO focuses on scaling businesses’ visibility on search engines. However, this is only for those who serve their communities face-to-face.
What does this mean?
Experts and professionals like painters, plumbers, and dentists (but not only them) offer their services to their local customers. Why? Because they can’t deliver them unless they are located in the same area of their customers.
To make sure those businesses get more leads, you need to rank them locally by claiming the business listing on Google to place them on Map Listings. Local SEO also involves online reviews, citation management, and how you manage your entire online presence in the local area.
If you are going to bet on lead gen, you need to adapt yourself to today’s world: The Internet.
Keep in mind that although traditional channels and methods like billboards, warm calls, and pamphlets still work, they aren’t part of your tools. Whenever someone needs a service, they go to Google and search for it.
“Dentist in Miami” or “plumbing services in Orlando,” etc. And you can keep coming up with services or professionals people need and look for. Thus, you need to make sure you’re using Google to get the companies in front of their clients.
Users will always click on the first search results (those near the top), and many of them will be either Ad links (people paid to place their websites there), Map Listing, and then you get websites. Almost all of them are your goal and where you should always aim to place yourself.
Can My Catering Business Utilize a Local Lead Generation Strategy?
If you want customers, you better know you need it. Following the previous explanation, lead gen is all about placing businesses in front of their customers, choosing them over their competitors.
Put it simply – it’s all about closing deals and having clients for those companies to make money. The main difference with the usual methods companies use for this is how lead generation approaches different channels to get them in the right place of the market to get customers.
Those channels are all focused on the Internet as most people are searching for products but also services across the net. The issue is that the Internet is way too broad, and businesses don’t know how to place themselves. They usually try, but they get one common result: losing money and time.
How Powerful Are Organic Catering Leads from Google?
For companies looking for customers, it’s everything. For you? Pretty much the same. When you build a business with digital properties, you get to make thousands of dollars a month.
This isn’t a “get started today and get rich tomorrow” thing, but it is HIGHLY scalable, and ROI + positive results are guaranteed. Learning a fairly decent and very needed set of skills to create your digital properties and start ranking them on Google is required.
I have invested in several online businesses over the years, and if there’s something uncertain, whether you will get your ROI or not, even more than the actual profit.
However, this business moved my earnings from five figures a year to a month in ONLY passive income while sitting comfortably at home.
On my laptop. Anywhere. Anytime.
You can look at one of the first sites I built back in 2016, and it continues making me over $1.000+ every month. The best part is that I don’t need to touch it or the rest I’ve built over the years, just like this digital property.
What Makes Lead Generation SO Alluring?
Here it goes: you can work from home.
The main issue with regular business opportunities is how much you need to invest in staff, equipment, or rent to have a place to sell your products or offer your services.
We all know the hassles of traditional businesses that involve regular expenses, which are extremely high. Can you afford it? I don’t think so, and even if you can, is it worth it? Now, it isn’t only about the money. You also need to put in a lot of work, and it isn’t only during the first couple of months or years. Usually, it is as long as you continue running it.
You can save yourself those headaches and bone-breaking tasks and expenses with lead gen since it is more about generating leads with digital channels—mainly websites.
Websites can be VERY cheap to build, and with many tools online, you get to do it in a couple of hours instead of days. Any virtual or digital business is scalable and won’t need constant maintenance.
So, let’s summarize this:
- You save money in regular expenses with traditional and most online businesses as what you need is yourself and digital properties (websites).
- You can bet on passive income.
- There’s no need to hire more people to get started.
- You can generate leads in multiple industries, which allows you to work on any niche you want.
How Can I Get Started in the Local Lead Generation Program?
Anyone can start and learn. That’s the beauty of this business model. I knew nothing about SEO, Map Listing, and everything I’ve mentioned so far. It is all about learning the skills, gaining experience, and deciding to take the step.
Remember that this business model will never get old as business owners are always looking for leads. They need to do business and scale their companies. Why not do the same while helping others and still making money?
You can start with this local lead generation course highly recommended for anyone wanting to grow in the business. It is a close training that will take you through each step and make sure you are able to get your ROI, profits and take control of your life.
You will be added to an incredible lead generation family ready to help you 24/7 when asking questions on the group. Anyone is welcome who’s willing to put in the work. Click here to watch the lead gen webinar.