How to Market Catering Business – Strategies for Success

In the dynamic world of the food industry, catering businesses hold a unique position. With the growing demand for memorable culinary experiences, knowing how to market your catering business effectively is paramount. Whether you’re just starting or looking to expand your catering venture, understanding effective marketing techniques is essential. Let’s delve into some strategies to help you effectively market your catering business and attract more clients.

How to Market Catering Business

4 Steps to Create Your Catering Marketing Plan:

Layout and Document Your Marketing Goals:

No matter if you’re starting or have an established catering business, detailing goals for your marketing efforts will help you determine what marketing channels and costs are appropriate. You’ll want to document your goals so you can refer back to them periodically to see what channels are and are not performing and make adjustments as needed. When setting your catering marketing goals, but sure they are SMART goals:

  • S – Specific
  • M – Measurable
  • A – Attainable
  • R – Relevant
  • T – Time-bound

For example, a non-SMART goal would be “get more customers.” Translating that into a SMART goal could be “increase the number of inbound catering quote requests by 10% every month.” This goal checks all 5 criteria of being “SMART,” but you’ll also need a way to monitor monthly inbound quote requests while also seeing what channels are bringing in those leads.

Attribution of where your leads and sales come from is just as important as your initial goal setting, as there’s no use setting goals if you can’t monitor if you’ve achieved them. Without SMART goals and proper monitoring, catering businesses could end up wasting their precious marketing dollars.

Narrow Down Your Target Market:

Theoretically, caterers’ target market is anyone who likes food, but this isn’t specific enough to help determine how you will reach and communicate with those who are actually purchasing your catering services. To begin narrowing down your target market, try listing out the following details about your ideal (if starting) or most common (if well-established) customers (note that you may have or want multiple target markets, but to start, try to define your top 3 or less):

  • General age range
  • Where they are located
  • Frequency of orders
  • Type of catering/events they order
  • Specific dietary requirements
  • Any feedback you’ve received
  • Services requested
  • Order amount (item and dollar amount)
  • How they heard about you

Once you’ve defined your key target markets, you can start to understand how and where they get their information and tailor your marketing activities accordingly.

Define Your Competitive Advantage:

You’ve gotten into the catering industry because you can offer customers something others cannot. And that’s how you want to position yourself within your marketing communications. But how exactly do you articulate your “X factor”? Try answering some of the questions below to get started:

  • Is there anything markedly different about your business? Woman- or veteran-owned? Super specific catering, such as full kosher, vegan, or all locally sourced?
  • Do you incorporate any innovative or sustainable practices? Food recycling or composting? On-site full animal roasts?
  • What are your unique selling points? Same-day and home delivery? Partnership pop-ups with locally aligned businesses? Loyalty programs?
  • Once you know what makes your catering business special, you can craft your marketing messages and tactics to reflect and best promote those points.

Know Your Marketing Budget and Review It Constantly:

Viewing market as a key profit center of your catering business is vital to ensure you’re staying within budget, spending your marketing dollars wisely, and not squandering opportunities. Setting your market budget is an important step, as it will help you familiarize yourself with your marketing ROI and expenditures that fall in that category, such as website development and hosting, sales collateral, and branding costs.

How much you decide to spend on marketing is ultimately a personal choice. Still, there are many reliable resources to help benchmark your business, your goals, and your performance so you’re not overextending yourself or stunting your growth. For example, The U.S. Small Business Administration recommends spending 7-8% of your gross revenue on marketing if you’re doing less than $5 million in yearly sales.

Regardless of what your marketing budget ends up being, we’ve put together 10 high-impact marketing ideas that blend old-school and new-school strategies so you can set your catering business apart from the pack.

10 Catering Business Marketing Ideas to Grow Sales:

Note that these ideas assume your catering business already has its branding set and assets created, a website, and social media profiles.

Target Local SEO on Your Website:

If you cater to specific areas, include those names on your website. This helps people in those areas find you when they search online. For instance, if you work in San Francisco, put “San Francisco Bay Area catering” on your website.

Make Friends with The Locals:

Does your target customer frequent local farmers markets? Try setting up a stand offering free tasters of your most popular items, and bring brochures or business cards to hand out. Are there tangent businesses, such as wedding/event venues, florists, or event rental companies in your area? Try bringing in some free catering to their business to introduce yourself and ask if they’d consider promoting your services if you promote theirs to mutual customers.

List Your Business on Popular Directories:

Convenience and accessibility are the queen and king of being able to connect with your target audiences. Unfortunately, not every customer is willing or even able to spend the time to research individual caterers for their needs. So, instead, ensuring your business is listed where customers are looking could seriously help boost sales. For example, if you offer wedding catering, listing your business on directories such as Wedding Wire or Honeyfund can help potential customers find you more easily.

Run Targeted Social Media Ads and Publish Your Menu on Social Marketplaces:

Do you have tasty catering photos or videos and $50 to spare? Perfect! You’re all set to run a targeted social media ad. Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Pinterest make it super easy for businesses to advertise, even if it’s just a boosted post.

To make sure your ad reaches the right people, use details from your marketing plan to target your audience. Things like age, location, and interests are key. Pick the best photos or videos that show off your catering, and add a clear message telling viewers what to do next, like “click here” or “order now.” Then, keep an eye on how well your ad is doing.

To make it even easier for customers to find and buy your services, consider putting your menu on social marketplaces like Google Retail, Facebook Marketplace, and Instagram Shopping. It is called “social commerce.” You can upload your menu with prices and descriptions, and customers can order directly from these platforms. There are lots of guides online to help you set this up. Just do a quick search to get started.

Partner with Content Creators or Influencers:

In today’s crowded marketplace, customers are increasingly listening to influencers and content creators for their information. Whether it be a social media personality, blogger, or podcaster, finding the right spokesperson to feature your business could create quality traction with new customers.

But it’s important to find someone who aligns with your industry, services, and target market. To find a content creator or influencer to work with, check out websites like BuzzSumo or NinjaOutreach.

Run Competitions or Limited-Time Promotions:

Catering businesses have many options for running contests and specials, but the main goal is to connect with your target customers in the best way. For example, if your shop is busy during the week, consider putting up a sign outside to advertise your services or a contest. Or, if you have lots of followers on social media, try running a contest where people can win free office catering if they follow you and tag a friend. Making more people aware of your brand is a crucial part of marketing.

Reward Repeat Business:

Understand how you can not just monitor but reward repeat business through loyalty and referral programs. Punch cards such as “buy X, get the Xth free” are still alive and well, but adding a digital spin to them could be more convenient for your customers. Additionally, offering discounts to customers who refer business to you can encourage repeat purchases while simultaneously bringing in new business. The power of word-of-mouth marketing should never be discounted.

Hit the Pavement with Printouts

If your customers live nearby, try a traditional marketing approach. Make some good-quality flyers about your catering services and include your contact information and a special offer. Deliver them to homes or businesses in your area. To see how well it works, give each flyer a unique code that customers can use when they order. This way, you can keep track of how many people respond to your flyers.

Work with A Marketing Agency or Freelancer:

Catering can be tough, so sometimes it’s smart to get help with marketing. Depending on your business size, hiring a big marketing agency might not be affordable. But if you can, choose an agency that knows about catering and understands your local customers. If you want to save money, you can hire a freelancer instead.

They can help with things like managing social media, designing your website, or running campaigns. Websites like Upwork and Freelancer have lots of freelancers you can compare. Look at their work, how much they charge, and where they’re based.

Implement Catering Software with CRM Features:

To ensure your market dollars are well spent, it could be more beneficial for your overall business to purchase catering software that offers you a complete package in terms of business operations and marketing.

Catering software such as FoodStorm can provide you with a catering-specific eCommerce website with website builder features to host your content, blogs, and SEO efforts; social media marketplace integration to maximize your reach and sales on all platforms; and customer relationship management tools to monitor repeat customers and send targeted marketing emails such as Abandoned Carts and personalized promotions.

All of this in one software can help streamline your operations, simplify your processes, and automate much of your administrative tasks.

Also Read: How to Market a Lawn Care Business – Best Tips and Strategies


How can my catering business accept credit card payments? allows your catering business to accept credit card payments easily. You can send your clients direct Pay Links that take them to a personalized checkout page or even take their payment details over the phone and enter them manually into your Virtual Terminal.

How do you attract customers to a catering business?

Attracting customers to a new catering business is all about showing them the value, service, and delicious food you can provide. Getting strong referrals, having good testimonies, and embracing opportunities to show off your cooking skills out in public is a surefire way to attract customers.

What’s the most effective way to promote a catering business?

One of the most effective ways to market a catering business is through word-of-mouth referrals and networking within your community. It’s a free way to build a network of potential customers who may want to use your catering services for events.

What’s the target market for a catering business?

Catering businesses usually serve different types of events like weddings, funerals, parties, or corporate gatherings. What you offer and the kinds of dishes you make will determine who your main customers are.


Successfully marketing your catering business requires a strategic blend of creativity, professionalism, and customer focus. By defining your niche and understanding the nuances of the catering industry, establishing a strong brand identity, leveraging social media, building strategic partnerships, offering tastings, optimizing your online presence, and prioritizing customer experience, you can attract more clients and elevate your catering business to new heights. Embrace these marketing strategies, adapt to changing trends, and watch your catering business thrive in a competitive market.

Ray Austin

Ray Austin, seasoned entrepreneur and business blogger, shares valuable insights on startups, leadership, and navigating the business landscape. Join him on the journey to success through practical advice and a fresh perspective on modern commerce.
error: Content is protected !!