External Support Resources
While a solo entrepreneur or a small internal marketing team can handle many online marketing and e-commerce efforts, at times a food business may want to turn to external resources. Below are a few of the external resources available to help create and support an online presence.
are professionals that provide creative copy writing for websites as well as other marketing efforts. They can help a food business create compelling headline, informative brand stories, product descriptions and marketing content. Many are well versed in writing for a number of different styles, but it’s advisable to review their prior work to understand if their style is consistent with the positioning you want to establish for your brand. Partners hired to do this work need to understand your story, and you need to be sure their words convey authenticity.
are a team or individual that manages the technical side of creating and maintaining a website. They consider the user experience, create a website wireframe, or skeletal framework, to organize content and ultimately build the digital assets that become the website. Most developers will also offer ongoing website maintenance.
can create logos, drawings and icons for websites and other marketing materials, but are also experts in laying out attractive and persuasive documents. They can be leveraged alongside a website developer or to help the food business design a website through one of the DIY web platforms.
Photography and Videography
are critical to communicating in highly visual online media. The DIY website platforms offer limited stock photography or food businesses can use stock photography from resources like istockphoto.com or shutterstock.com. Often a photographer or videographer is necessary to create proprietary images for the food business. When looking for resources, it’s important to consider the type of imagery you’re seeking. Some photographers specialize in shooting food shots for editorial content while others may specialize in packaging or even lifestyle.
Social Media Specialists
sometimes also called content specialists, are marketing professionals specializing in creating content for the various social media platforms. They are skilled in writing content and curating images in a manner appropriate for each channel. While it’s tempting for small food businesses to want to manage their social media themselves, it can be very time-consuming and an outside resource may free the business owner to do other things while providing consistent focus to the social efforts.
are a lesser known but critical resource to the photography and videography process. A food stylist is skilled at preparing and plating foods to create successful images. They work in partnership with the photographer. Many photographers have food stylists they work with regularly or can suggest options.
Selecting professional assistance can be challenging for food businesses. Several sources for finding these resources exist:
- Networking with other food businesses is a great place to find vetted resources.
- Searching online for the above job titles will also yield many options. When considering resources found online, consider the type of clients they serve and seek out those with expertise in food, if not your specific product category.
- Reach out to local colleges and universities to find out if there are student groups or classes that are looking for real world problems/activities to work on.
- The Grow North Resource Database and Forge North MSP Startup Compass highlights organizations that support growing food businesses, both for the marketing roles listed above but also a broad array of other support services.
- The Minnesota Department of Agriculture offers marketing support to Minnesota food companies, including cost-sharing for e-commerce related expenses. Their resource does not provide connection to service providers.
- The Minnesota chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) provides a searchable database of public relations professionals.
- The Minnesota Council of Non-Profits is an industry organization. Their website contains a searchable database of business resources including marketing and e-commerce service providers.
- Foodexport.org focuses on helping food business access foreign markets. They’ve created an 11-module training course to help food businesses navigate selling products internationally. Additionally, in the current COVID-limited environment, they offer online consultations to guide food companies in market introductions.
- The Twin Cities Collective Academy is a paid education series focused on helping entrepreneurs improve their online marketing skills. While the series is not specifically food-focused, it may provide deeper engagement on the topics covered in this resource.