How to Launch a New Online Catering Platform


APR 17, 2024


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4 Easy Steps to Launch Online Catering and Grow Sales

Launching a new catering platform is exciting. Not only can you tap into the growing catering market, which is anticipated to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 6.2 percent, reaching $124.36 billion by 2032, but you also have a new way for your existing guests to access and order from your restaurant brand. In this article, we'll highlight effective demand-generation tactics used by brands Tacombi, Bareburger, and Maman that have helped scale their catering businesses to new heights with the recent launches of their Lunchbox Catering platforms.

Follow this easy checklist to get the word out to customers about your new catering platform and kickstart your launch with marketing that converts to new and repeat catering orders.

Step One: Print Marketing and Digital Signage

Consider adding print marketing collateral to all third-party pick-up and delivery orders, giving you the opportunity to convert guests. Include bag inserts for any in-store takeaway orders. Additionally, make sure your digital in-store signage (menu boards, kiosks, etc.) is updated with messaging advertising the new launch. A few must-haves to consider adding to your lineup are:

  • Bag Inserts

  • Safety Seal Stickers

  • POS (point of sale) Stickers

  • Table Tents

  • Window, Wall Signage, and Digital Display Signage

Pro Tip: Include a QR Code linking to the catering site using software like Linktree.

Step Two: Email Marketing

Email is an easy and free marketing channel that can help you advertise catering offerings to both new and existing guests. Kicking off your catering launch with a well-thought-out email marketing strategy will increase sales (STAT).

There are plenty of tools out there that are built to help automate and target guests, including the Marketing CRM by Lunchbox, which aggregates customer data across all digital platforms and allows for automated email and SMS messaging.

Here’s a quick video on how you can segment your email guests:

Based on Lunchbox's experience helping 100's of restaurant brands go to market with their digital platforms, we recommend the following baseline campaigns:

  • 7 Days Pre-Launch: "Coming Soon" email sent to existing guests

  • Day-Of Launch: "We're Live" hype email

  • 5 Days Post-Launch: Reminder email

  • Weekly or Monthly newsletter to all email subscribers, including exciting updates to the catering menu, seasonal specials, and promotions.

  • Pre-Holiday Emails: Win those office holiday parties!

Step Three: Social Media

Social media is one of the most effective ways to market to a large audience. You can launch social organically, or consider putting some paid advertising budget behind your posts to give them an extra boost.

You'll want to make sure you're leveraging popular platforms like Instagram and Facebook to get the word out to your followers and save a spot for new followers with an Instagram Story Highlight.

Here are a few tactics we recommend at a minimum:

  • Facebook, Instagram, and X feed posts

  • Instagram Story Post

  • Instagram Story Highlight

  • Link in bio to all online ordering channels

When posting on social media, highlight any benefits to ordering catering for existing or first-time guests, such as exclusive menu items, seasonal specials, or first-purchase offers. It's always a good idea to work in a regular posting cadence, highlighting catering at least once a month in your posting rotation.

Pro Tip: Cellphone shot content performs better on IG these days. Keep your copy and incentive in the caption. Don’t forget to link in bio!

Step Four: Update Your Brand Website

Ensure that your app, online ordering, and catering are prominent on your website's homepage. This will prevent customers from seeking out costly alternatives, like third-party marketplaces, that charge you commission on each order and hold your customer data.

Here are a few places we suggest increasing visibility on catering:

  • Hero Image (above the fold)

  • Main Navigation Menu Button

  • Linked on Restaurant Menu

  • Footer Navigation

After your website is updated, make sure to update your listing on Google! Here's a great example of how that should look:

Lastly, adding a dedicated catering landing page is a great way to educate potential customers on the type of catering services you offer. Make sure you list out what you provide, for example, event catering, business catering, small groups, and more. This is also a great place to call out any accommodations you provide around dietary restrictions.

Wrapping Up:

In conclusion, launching an online catering service requires a comprehensive marketing approach that taps into both traditional and digital mediums. By integrating print materials and digital signage, engaging email marketing strategies, leveraging the power of social media, and optimizing your brand website, your business can effectively reach a broad audience and drive catering sales. Remember, each step—from promotional print inserts to social media strategies—plays a crucial role in converting interest into actionable sales, ensuring that your catering service thrives in the competitive online marketplace.

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