Every food has it’s origin story.
Was it Nonna’s cookie recipe that inspired you to start a cookie company?
Is it your family’s farm that started you selling pickles and jams online?
Were you always fascinated by the corner store butcher that made you want to create your own charcuterie?
Any external factor or internal passion can be ‘that thing’ that propels us into our given food field. And people want to hear about it…
Heck, take me for instance, I fell in LOVE with recipes as a kid. My family cooked, not really COOKED cooked, but made really tasty things and I was always inserting myself into someone’s kitchen.
No one in my family worked in restaurants, no one went to culinary school or even talked about the term culinary arts. But I was still propelled to discover it.
I remember the exact day that I knew I wanted to become a chef. I was standing outside of my high school with all the other freshmen and sophomores, waiting for the bus, when an upperclassman friend approached my huddled group.
He was wearing…a chef’s UNIFORM!!!
Now, at this point , I knew OF chefs- they were on TV… Julia, Galloping Gourmet, Yan. I had never made the connection before, that, there could be chefs among us. And here was Nick, 16 (of course not a real chef, yet), wearing the tall toque, white coat, checkered pants and shiny black shoes!
He had enrolled in the Culinary program at the vocational school, attached to the high school, and was showing off his new uniform.
Light bulb moment …………..I COULD BE A CHEF??!!! I could play with food and recipes for A LIVING?!
I enrolled in the program the following semester and the rest, as they say, is history.
That little 300+ word blurb I just provided is a perfect example of an origin story. A way for you to get to know me. A way for you to feel a little connection with me.
This connectivity, that ‘getting to know you’ feeling, is crave worthy for our customers.
It is sound marketing practice. Connectivity leads to trust and trust leads to community (more customers). Simple.
Ways to achieve connectivity through food story telling….
1.) Your food story should be nice and a little funny
Nice, as in kind, happy and up-lifting.
Your food (story) should not make people cry, that kinda thing works for shows like ‘This is Us’ not food. Find the good in the story and begin with that. Lead with nice.
Grandma Nonna Jean’s cookies were the highlight of the holidays! Every year the grandkids would jockey for position by the oven door to be the first kid to nab the prized peanut butter chocolate chip double fudge wonders. It’s a wonder that any of us still have fingerprints. Juggling was my cookie cool down method but Joe (brother and business partner) would immediately stuff his cookie into his mouth, I’m surprised THAT man has any feeling left in his face (it explains A LOT).
2.) Your food story needs characters
Name your starring characters. The customer connection lives with the people behind the food, not just the food itself.
Bobby ‘The Beef’ Wickowsky owned, operated and manned the counter at Beef’s Butcher, our family’s neighborhood butcher shop in Meattown, Tennessee. Mr. ‘The Beef' Wickowsky’s claim to fame was his smoky kielbasa……
As a little weeny, Kicking Kielbasa owner Jack Knife was given his first job mopping floors at Beef’s Butcher…
3.) Your food story must paint your food in a delicious light
As much emphasis as you put into the characters of your food story, the same courtesy should be given to the food.
There is nothing like vine ripened tomatoes picked fresh, grown bright red and juicy in the warm SoCal sun. The recipe behind our Tomato Basil Jam is as heirloom as the tomatoes on our farm. Each small batch is slow simmered with garlic, basil and olive oil before adding just a touch of local honey to draw out the natural sweetness…
4.) Your food story needs to have a home (and be shared)
It’s one thing to put in the effort of writing down your food story, it’s another thing for customers to be able to find it. These are the tricks I like to employ to help spread the story and get the message out there.
‘About Us’ Page: A perfect platform and location for your food story (and an easy way to backlink to your site).
Product Descriptions: Multiple products have multiple stories, adding a little blurb in the product description section, that is unique and engaging, is a great way to increase the frequency of customers putting that item in their checkout basket.
Email Campaigns: This goes hand in hand with the About Us page, food stories are email gold and a great way to reengage customers or create new.
Blog or Social Posts: Food stories show the care and passion behind the product and that resonates big time with your social audience and blog subscribers.
Thank you notes: You should always thank your customers. I like adding in a little ‘did you know’ piece in that popup thank you message or emailed receipt. A great way to keep customers engaged and encourage future visits.