There was a time when “secret recipe” strategies were touted as part of a restaurant, cafe or bakery’s success. Special ingredients or methods were never divulged, either for fear of copycats, to maintain status or to create the image for oneself as an irreplaceable master of craft.
However, we now live in an era where food sources and transparency are important to many. People who seek out your business because of a dedication to fresh ingredients, local sourcing and a sense of community will become your most loyal customers if they can trust that your business openly discusses your ingredients and practices. Aside from communicating your values and listing ingredients and sources, recipes are a fun way to bring that sense of community into your marketing.
Contrary to popular belief, sharing recipes for popular dishes or goods doesn’t lessen your status as an expert. It actually strengthens the connection between your food and your customers. That connection, more than an impressive dish, is what builds a loyal following.
Let’s look at how sharing recipes works for small businesses. Here are some great examples from Farmstead Inc. (link no longer available, updated 10-15-2016), an artisan cheese shop, and their bistro La Laiterie (link no longer available, updated 10-15-2016).
As a Sample or Perk
A recipe is a sample for your business. If you think about it, a DIY extension of your brand is a perfect teaser, because it is positive and inspiring, regardless of the result. Let’s say a frequent customer is enthusiastic to recreate a favorite bread, dish or dessert from your shop. If they are successful, they will be probably talk it up to all their friends, providing great word-of-mouth marketing. If the recipe doesn’t come out quite right, they may crave the original or want to try to figure out why it didn’t work. Either way, they will return to your business.
Subscribers to Farmstead’s email newsletter often find a small seasonal recipe in the sidebar. It feels like a fun perk or bonus just for being a fan!
Visitors to their blog (link no longer available, updated 10-15-2016) can find seasonal recipes posted there too. If they don’t want to or don’t have the time to cook from scratch, the recipes work as excellent reminders that Farmstead is the place to get delicious spreads, breads and cheeses for holiday celebrations.
Alongside Event Promotions
Farmstead also offers a lot of classes and events for foodies.
Sharing recipes is a great lead in to event marketing and can work well alongside it as well, because the adventurous foodies who will appreciate that amazing fonduta recipe are likely to be the same folks looking for opportunities to learn more! Pairing these in the newsletter is smart; for example, you could try steering towards a class or food event in your recipe description. A simple “for more of this, don’t miss our upcoming event” really works, especially with frequent customers, who count on your business as an expert and a resource.
At the end of the day we know that impressing customers with consistently excellent dishes and artisan foods is vital, but other aspects, like sharing some of your best recipes, are what build the personal connections that make your shop or restaurant someone’s favorite place to return to over and over again.