Show and Tell: Crafting Your Food Story

Show, don’t tell. I’ve been hearing that more and more, whether it is about an athlete’s performance, a politician’s actions or a child’s behavior. With food, you must do both. That’s what I’ve learned this week – in Kansas to be precise. Bordering the “Show Me State” of Missouri, I was there with a group of chefs from across the state to see a company’s process for delivering high-quality beef to restaurants. In between, we had butchering demos, a presentation on Prosciutto di Parma (client) and A LOT of incredible food. Of course, with a group of chefs, we also heard plenty of great stories.

As any GoT fan likely knows by now, what unites people are stories. For food, it’s what draws people in to operators and brands. We heard from a rancher about how he raises and cares for his herd, as well as all the steps he takes to waste nothing and repurpose everything. We saw the processing line and learned how slowing it down improves quality and consistency. When it was time for the presentation on Prosciutto di Parma, my colleague and I talked about its history and time-honored traditions. We shared how to identify authentic Prosciutto di Parma and understand the differences between it and other cured hams.

And by teaching them first-hand about these hams and how they get to their restaurants, there is now a group of influential chefs who can share
the Prosciutto di Parma story with their staff and customers. Having others tell your story is even more powerful than telling it yourself.

Of course, first you need to have a story to tell. I’m fortunate to work with clients who have great stories to tell, and helping them craft their story and share it with others is one of the best parts of my job. However, even with great material, shaping and delivering a story is where the magic happens. It is not as simple as sending out a news release or posting to social media. It starts with having an insights-driven communication strategy and understanding your key stakeholders.

So much of our food systems has become commoditized in the consumer’s mind. For brands striving to be better and deliver a superior product, just telling consumers is not enough. People have a growing cynicism to marketing speak. They want to see for themselves or hear it from others they trust. By inviting them behind the curtain, brands can make powerful connections that resonate long after a 30-second spot. If you don’t find your story breaking through, it may be time to revisit your strategy.

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