12 Mar CheeseFest 2019: A Review for Food Business Owners
When we found out about Cheesefest in Manchester, we just couldn’t resist. We booked our tickets, had a look at the exhibitors and headed on down.
If you’re an artisan business, then selling your products at local artisan festivals is one of the best ways to get your products ‘out there’.
So, in this brief post I’m giving you a overview of the festival and some insights into how the food businesses, we came across, were maximising their opportunities with some fantastic sales techniques.
I’ll also touch on how certain digital marketing efforts can have a real positive impact on your sales at a festival.
So, here goes…
The Cheesefest-ival opportunities & background
It proved a great opportunity for us to do some networking and meet some of the ambitious cheese businesses who are passionate about what they do.
Unfortunately, in some newspapers, the Cheesefest has a history of being over sold and under delivering. So let’s see if it’s the case, this time.
All in all, who wouldn’t want this…
The Cheesefest Exhibitors
Let’s take a look at some of the exhibitors and why they caught our eye.
Of course, it wasn’t just cheese businesses.
Among the crowd of exhibitors were farmers, brownie makers & hot food snacks to name just a few.
So here’s a reference to their business and website’s – If they have one:
- The Great British Cheese Company – @GBCheeseCo
- Lymn Bank Farm – http://postacheese.com/ – @lymnbankfarm
- The Cheese Wedge https://www.cheesewedge.co.uk/
- Ridiculously Rich – https://www.ridiculouslyrichbyalana.co.uk/ @Alana_Spencer_
- The Garlic Farm – https://www.thegarlicfarm.co.uk – @TheGarlicFarm
- Glastonbury Cheese – https://glastonburycheese.com/
- Big Wheel Cheese – http://bigwheelcheese.co.uk/
- Riverford Farmers – https://www.riverford.co.uk – @Riverford
I’ve bumped into the Garlic Farm at a few events and I just love their garlic blog (and their garlic of course). Anyhow, if you’re a cheese company who was at Cheesefest and want to be listed here – just drop me a line – firstname.lastname@example.org
On arrival, we worked our way round to the right of the hall.
First we bumped into the Cheese Cavern, which was pretty busy. Probably because everyone who arrived went straight to that exhibitor. I’m a bit shocked to see they don’t have a website, though.
Tip: If you’re wanting to attract people as soon as they come in – Ask for a stand where the natural flow of foot traffic goes.
I even noticed the Cheese Cavern offered speciality saucisson, a french delicacy that can be tough to get hold of in the UK. But we’d only just arrived so couldn’t indulge just yet.
We walked round to each of the stalls and overall, it was a great atmosphere. Cool bands playing and we just loved going round trying the tasters, while speaking to the passionate foodies. Cheesfest delivered for us!
Now let’s dive into the ultimate sales strategies.
Best Sales Strategies we saw – Not just Cheese
If you’re not using these as part of your food marketing, then you should certainly see how you can fit them into your growth strategies.
Try Cheese before you buy Cheese
This is a classic technique. I would say 95% of the exhibitors offered a try before you buy. The weirdest and most wonderful try, had to be the Stuffing cheese from the Cheese Wheel. I tried it – great taste.
We then got towards the back where we bumped in to Barnaby at Riverford Farms – great guy. He offered us an apple and a tomato, strange but they looked super delicious, so we took no time in agreeing.
10 minutes later we had a veg box on order and a recipe book to take home, which you only got if you bought on the day. What a great sales strategy!
Barnaby was really informative and super happy to pose for a photo. Thanks Barnaby!
Celebrity Proof Marketing
This is a fantastic way to showcase the popularity of your cheese. Or any product really.
Yes, the Cheese Cavern had photos of famous celebrities next to different cheeses. At the bottom of each photo, there was a caption that said ‘Jamie Oliver’s favourite cheese’.
Everyone wants to try Jamie Oliver’s Favourite cheese, don’t they? Here’s a snap shot of what the photos look like.
Founder-led brand Marketing
If you’ve been to the Cheesefest before, you will know who I mean. Yes, it’s Coronation Street star Sean Wilson at Saddleworth Cheese. He has his personal name and photo’s at the forefront of the brand.
Honestly – I recognised him straight away. Sad, I know.
This is a great marketing technique if you have a story to tell and your brand is right behind your personality.
Cheese Grater Demonstrations (with a mic)
They say timing is EVERYTHING in marketing. And I couldn’t resist buying the Amazing Cheese Grater. This was definitely down to timing. Our cheese grater had just broke and we needed a new one – simple!
The proof is in the pudding – if you get your product in front of the right person, at the right time, with the right offering – you will no doubt get an opportunity to sell your goods. And probably at a higher price than normal.
On top of that, the demonstration was good and it definitely pulled me in. The microphone helped too because the band was often overpowering the conversations.
How to Use Digital Marketing to Maximise Your Sales
Now that we’ve looked at some of the cool sales strategies, let’s take a look at how you can maximise your sales by promoting your stand through digital marketing.
1. Update your website’s home page
Does your website get a lot of visitors? If so, make sure you put a caption on your home page, telling anyone who visits, that you will be showcasing your latest offerings.
Give them a reason to come and see you. For example, you could give out 10% off vouchers for use on your website, when they visit your stand.
This worked wonders with one of our clients at some of the bigger shows. Web sales significantly increased a couple of weeks after attending food festivals.
2. Send an email to your foodie followers
Hopefully you have been building your email database since starting your business.
If not, give us a call (wink, wink).
You should definitely send an email to the people on your list. Let them know you’re going to showcase your products.
Do you have any new products, which they might want to try? If so, give them a taster in the email.
If it’s a local festival, try segmenting your database so you don’t annoy people.
For example, if the show is up north, there’s no point sending someone in Land’s End an email asking them to come and see you.
However, emails are a great way to keep in touch with your followers. So, you can always add in a little extra that would be relevant to anyone, in any location.
3. Post on your social media
This works wonders. Facebook is fantastic for posting faces – your team.
Get your team in front of the camera and watch the likes and comments roll in.
Post one week before the show, letting people know you will be there.
But don’t just post on your own page. There’s usually a local group where you can help spread the word.
Post while you’re at the festival too. If it’s a large one like BBC Good Food it can help hugely with awareness. Always tag the organisers and show off your stall. They might re-share – putting your business in front of thousands.
Here’s a post that we did for one of of our clients when they had just a few followers. It got an engagement rate of 11% (note many Facebook pages are luck if they get 3% engagement).
So there’s a few pointers on how you can do some up front preparations for selling more at a food festival. These are true for any food so don’t delay, start today.
Do you have any other magical ways that you can sell more food products at Artisan Markets or food festivals?
Let us know in the comments below.
Other Cheesefest Locations upcoming in 2019
YORKSHIRE EVENT CENTRE
THREE COUNTIES SHOWGROUND
THE KENT EVENT CENTRE
PONDS FORGE INTERNATIONAL SPORTS CENTRE
TECA — THE EVENT COMPLEX ABERDEEN
ROYAL HIGHLAND CENTRE
EAST OF ENGLAND ARENA AND EVENTS CENTRE
BATH & WEST
THE ROYAL BATH & WEST SHOWGROUND