Get digital – or risk getting lost

Catherine Sayer

As you are reading this, you might be thinking, ‘digital’s not new’. You are quite right. For some businesses, digital is de rigueur. After all, you are reading this column online. But that’s not true for everybody.

By Food South Australia CEO Catherine Sayer.

Covid-19 closed the borders, put the planes on the ground, and put our passports on ice, so if a business really wanted to talk to customers – even those just over the state border – they could only do it virtually.

The learning from this experience was stark and a bit unsettling. The fact is that that a lot of food and beverage businesses don’t do digital strategically at all, let alone do it well.

This isn’t just about smaller businesses who are still learning the ropes and taking their first steps into retail channels. I think it’s more about the overall rapid rate of growth in what can be done in this space, lack of time to learn about the opportunities, and then the lack of time to be strategic about it.

At Food South Australia, we receive requests for video footage and images on a regular basis, and it’s a challenge to be able to leverage these opportunities when the target business simply doesn’t have suitable digital assets available. What happens then is that the opportunity moves on, and the potential new sale is lost.

My point here is that random snaps and 30-second clips of products coming off the line might once have been enough to liven up a consumer-facing Facebook page or Instagram post but these days that’s simply ignoring the value a strategic approach and the huge range of options digital can deliver.

We are seeing a global shift to introducing brands via digital presentations, accelerated (and possibly exacerbated) by Covid-19. Facebook has been busily sifting away in the background for quite a while now to preference video content in your news feed, and with the restrictions and uncertainty around travel, it’s only to be expected that a business who can present themselves effectively via digital channels will make the lives of those buyers and customers still stuck across state and international borders easier too.

Last year, Food South Australia piloted a program designed to help food and beverage businesses develop a suite of resources for use across various digital platforms, including on websites, social media and for use at trade shows. The program is structured to identify the key messages around the brand and origin stories for the business and translate these into video formats ranging from 30 seconds to three-five minutes. I was fortunate enough to participate in the on-site filming and the workshop on content creation and digital strategy that were part of this program. It was a great chance for me to see and learn firsthand from experts in video production and marketing strategy development.

We are right there on this learning curve at Food SA. In just a few weeks, we are hosting the SA Food-Beverage-Tech Trade Show on 2-3 March in Adelaide. It feels like the first time in a very long while that we will be welcoming buyers to a physical event after all the postponements and cancellations last year.

After sitting in on our pilot program, our team are looking at this trade show through digital eyes. I know I’ll never just hit ‘record’ on my phone again without starting to think about how many different ways the resulting images and footage can be leveraged to support and promote our activities, and our thinking is that, although we know we will be seeing a lot of key decision makers at the trade show, digital will be our friend in new ways for this event so we can also connect with the many industry professionals and decision makers who are still stick on the wrong side of various geographical borders.

So, we are creating a showcase video of the food and beverage products at the event and a guided virtual tour of exhibitors who are participants in our South Australia Food and Beverage Export Hub program. We will be using snippets and the full footage across our social platforms, sharing it with visitors to the show, sending it to our international buyer network and providing content to participating exhibitors for them to use in their networks as well.

From those two days, we aim to add value for the exhibitors, visitors, and our industry at local, national and international levels. I’m excited by the possibilities this small example digital strategy is going to deliver. It’s a new way of looking at just about everything we do. It’s still early in 2021, so I’m encouraging everyone to make the resolution to take a good long (and strategic) look at digital this year, before the opportunities it offers pass you by.

However, if you are able to get to Adelaide please join us to see what South Australia has to offer with over 50 exhibitors. Click here to register.

 

 

About Catherine Sayer

Catherine has led Food South Australia since it was established in 2010, passionately guiding the development of the industry’s peak body with a focus on industry growth and advocacy. She also is a member of and chairs a number of boards.

catherine@foodsa.com.au

About Food South Australia

Food South Australia is the state’s peak body for the food and beverage industry, with a mission to support and sustain the industry in the state by helping businesses of all sizes to grow their markets, capability, and industry connections. Food South Australia is independent, industry led, and membership based.

foodsouthaustralia.com.au