5 Tips for Marketing to Chefs

Foodservice marketing is an underappreciated art.

Consider for a moment the time and channel constraints. At a very basic level, most chefs work from 4pm to 1am (not including lunch service) and may sleep until Noon. Very few check email religiously like we do, and some traditionalists don’t even bother with email.

For many brands or associations, these factors and others can make it challenging to determine a successful foodservice marketing strategy.

For our client, the Consorzio del Prosciutto di Parma, we created a successful campaign – “The Whole Leg” – to reach chefs in the right place at the right time. This effort, which last week earned Padilla a 2019 In2SABRE award for Best Corporate/B2B Campaign, is the perfect example of creating an impactful foodservice strategy that drives awareness and purchase intent among chefs.

We hope that this campaign will serve as a best-in-class example of successfully marketing to chefs. And with that, here are 5 key tips for doing just that:

Define your target

Get granular with exactly who you plan to reach, because even within the chef community, there are different target audiences. Consider experience level, age, cuisine, geography and foodservice type. After conducting 10+ phone interviews with chefs, we narrowed down our focus to up-and-coming/junior chefs that already work with prosciutto, based on their desire for learning and potential for future exposure. Don’t make any assumptions!

Get granular with exactly who you plan to reach, because even within the chef community, there are different target audiences. Click To Tweet

Learn what makes them tick

“The Whole Leg” was conceptualized based on a few core truths: chefs craved information about using Prosciutto di Parma in their kitchens but lacked a resource in their now digitally-driven environments. They also identified recipes and video content as two major resources for self-education. Lastly, we considered macro trends critically important to their industry, which is why food waste became the lens through which we told our narrative.

Leverage the entire PESO model

Foodservice marketing isn’t unique in requiring a fully integrated marketing effort. “The Whole Leg” campaign engaged Paid advertising across key foodservice channels, Earned media outreach to highly influential publications in the space, Shared content across partner channels and paid support across our own social channels, and lastly, an Owned and critical digital campaign hub: TheWholeLeg.com.

Tap communities they frequent

If you expect all the “owned” content you create to be enough, it won’t be. Targeted partnerships across our campaign were critical in driving our message within communities that we know chefs frequent. For instance, one of the most unique partnerships we employed was with Chef’s Roll, a growing chef community that operates primarily on social media. I hope you’ll find these videos as mind blowing as the Chef’s Roll community has:

Create hands-on experiences

While digital is still relatively new to the overall chef community, nothing beats hands-on product trainings. We worked with partners like the Culinary Institute of America, Italian Chambers of Commerce and many others to create engaging experiences that put the product in front of chefs face-to-face in a learning environment. It’s critical that you build in-person trainings and even incentive-programming into your foodservice efforts to showcase application techniques and drive participation.


If you’re interested in learning how we can create the next “The Whole Leg” campaign for your chef and other foodservice targets, email me!

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