Writing about food is a tricky business – not least because it makes you salivate more than usual at the sight of a well-formed sentence! Taste is subjective, and it’s easy to make a meal of things by overworking your descriptions when a hungry customer just wants to satisfy their appetite.
That being said, there are a few best practices you can follow to make sure your content is encouraging as much interest as possible. Below are some food copywriting tips for retailers and restaurants.
1. Know your customer
“Where do you want to eat?” We’ve all been faced with this question, but when it comes down to answering it, there’s a lot more to consider than just the food. Comfy seats, music that doesn’t interfere with your conversation, friendly staff, convenience… the list goes on.
To better interpret your customer’s needs, create a profile for them. Think: what draws people to your business? It might be an opportune spot on the way home from work, a dog-friendly venue, or perhaps you provide the perfect ambience for a first date. How old is your typical customer? What are their interests and spending behaviours?
Understanding the intentions and attitudes of your clientele allows you to create content that appeals to them on a personal level. You can then go on to identify any key phrases they might be searching for too – like ‘Good food Manchester’, ‘Best vegan restaurants’, or ‘Café near train station’. Essentially, you need to recognise your USP and run with it.
Once you’ve narrowed down your customer, always have a goal in mind when crafting your sentences – whether that’s to get the reader to make a booking or inform them of your ingredients. This way, every word serves a purpose and works to engage your audience.
2. Create a balanced plate
As with all content creation, creativity is the bread and butter of food copywriting – but it pays to have a theme that ties everything together. One example of a brand that does this really well is Nando’s. Famous for their fun, quirky nature, Nando’s co-opted the popular phrase ‘Cheeky Nando’s’ for their own branding purposes. Other ways they get on the level of their student punters include phrases like ‘Your first time should be with someone experienced… it’s time to pop your Nando’s cherry’.
Obviously, this tone of voice isn’t right for everyone. At the opposite end of the spectrum sits luxury steakhouse and cocktail bar, Hawksmoor. This is a brand that appreciates that their customers invest a lot of time and energy into finding a sumptuous sirloin, so their website copy is focussed on giving clear insight into how they’ve ‘travelled the world in search of the perfect steak’ and their ‘commitment to serve only the very best beef that this country has to offer’.
It can be tempting to go overboard with description – you’re writing about one of life’s greatest joys, after all – but concision is key in food copywriting. Here, it helps to recall your audience (and that all-important goal). Are you serving up waffle… or a solution to their needs? With the world of content downright saturated right now, your copy needs to cut like a knife.
3. Consider all your copy
To really draw people in with your words, you need to consider every touchpoint they have with your brand. Have they found your website organically? Subscribed to something that pops you in their mailbox? Or are they scrolling down their social media feed? Ensure your copy speaks to your audience where they are at that particular moment.
Let’s tackle the last form of content in that list first: social copy. It often falls short when there’s little to no strategy behind it, so the trick is to have a solid plan and to keep the posting consistent. One way of doing this is by creating a content calendar. Are there any national days coming up? With everything from Sauvignon Blanc Day to Hummus Day, there’s bound to be something your brand can capitalise on. Another great way to attract new people and create loyal customers is by offering exciting deals, highlighting new dishes on the menu, and sharing general news about your brand to raise awareness.
Just like social content, your emails need to be well-timed – with regular updates and promotions to encourage loyal customers and sustained interest in your brand. Spend time on catchy subject lines to grab people’s attention, and avoid people scrolling straight down to the ‘unsubscribe’ button with compelling content to match.
Ads are a little different – you’ll need to consider what platforms your audience is on and where you should be advertising before you’ve even got started on the words. Then, think about the decisions people are making in relation to your brand. Is there a seasonal campaign or promotion you can launch? Empower your customers to take action by telling them how they can book a table with you.
4. Make your messaging consistent
Think of all the various forms of your copy (website content, social posts, brochures…) like a tried-and-true recipe. Just like when you stray too far from a real recipe and your results end up too spicy or salty, switching up your brand’s tone of voice too much makes it difficult to build up a faithful following.
An easy way to ensure consistency throughout your copywriting is by creating brand guidelines. This can include words to use and ones to avoid, along with any rules around spelling and grammar. That way, anyone who’s creating copy for your brand will be reading from the same menu.
And if you’re looking to create a really distinctive tone? Investing in a brand guardian for your copy can really pay off.
5. Don’t do it all by yourself
The best copy is relatable copy, and that’s exactly why copywriting should never be purely internal. Inspiration is everywhere!
Look to the other brands in the dining sector – what pain points are they addressing? Is it working? Then, consider exactly why you’re drawn to the copy – what feelings does it conjure? How can you trigger these same emotions with your own copy? This last part is key as it encourages you to adapt, rather than adopt, and filter ideas through your own voice to create something truly unique to your brand.
Once you’ve got some ideas down, don’t be afraid to test them out. More often than not, feedback is free, and valuable input from someone else in your industry could help refine your copywriting. Or, considering fellow food copywriters likely suffer from the exact same challenges as you, you may want to showcase your copy to a general foodie or someone else outside of your industry.
If you’re looking to really gain some credibility in the dining sphere, why not get other people to write about your brand? They’re called ‘influencers’ for a reason! Partnering with an authority whose values are in line with your own gets your content seen by a huge audience – one that trusts their recommendations.
Enough food for thought?
While word of mouth can still boost brand awareness, people’s reliance on search engines and social media means there’s a lot more to consider. To make sure people bite, your copywriting needs to be as flavourful as the food you serve – all the while incorporating keywords and elements of your wider marketing strategy.
If you’ve already got a lot on your plate, turn to our team of Manchester food copywriters. Ours is truly a refined palate. Get in touch to learn more.