From Recipe Box to Inbox
Written by: Paul Knowles
Food industry professionals who once relied on their recipe box are turning more and more to their email inbox for the latest industry information. And while Flanagan's is not considering a re-branding to Flanagan Food Cyber-service, the company is utilizing the advantages of the internet in its latest marketing initiatives.
The project is headed by Flanagan marketing manager Jackie Oakes, based in Kitchener, who is spearheading a monthly email newsletter, and also has been the point person in the development of Flanagan's green catalogue.
The Flanagan Newsletter is distributed on a monthly basis to all customers who ask for it. It's a brand new project, with the first two published at the time this was written.
Jackie says that each newsletter will conclude a variety of content, with a keynote article focusing on an important topic, information about special offers, and other features. The first email newsletter included a timely article on "Succeeding in tough times: tips from foodservice pros;" the second featured a piece about "Motivating your team: how to get the best from your staff."
The newsletter includes a "newsroom" feature that will provide news items about topics across the food industry; it will also, of course, have Flanagan information, such as details about regional shows. The focus is on usefulness - Jackie hopes every item in the monthly email newsletter will contain information that is helpful to food industry professionals. The goal is to give them information that will assist them in improving their operation, while also pointing out the special offers and opportunities from Flanagan's.
The first newsletter went to 1,000 email addresses in the database; Jackie expects that to grow. Flanagan customers can sign on by clicking here. Incidentally, recipients can also opt out if they choose not to receive the newsletter, but it's not expected many will bypass this free and informative email service.
Jackie is currently spending about two weeks each month preparing the newsletter, and fine-turning the email list. She expects that to drop to a week a month when the system is working more smoothly. She's excited about the potential of Flanagan's new internet tool, lauding the flexibility and immediacy this medium provides. "It's a great way to reach our customers, once a month," she says.
After just one Flanagan Newsletter, Jackie began to receive positive feedback - by email, of course. She happily quotes one customer: "this is an excellent new newsletter... very informative."
She will also use email as one method to disseminate the new and growing Flanagan Green Catalogue, a useful and much-in-demand tool that allows customers to learn just exactly how "green" products labelled as "environmentally friendly" are.
Flanagan's is committed to environmental action - another article in Selections magazines notes some of the green initiatives involved in the newly completed refrigerated facility. Jackie says the catalogue is simply "another step we're taking in our green initiatives as a company."
With Flanagan's Green Catalogue, she says, "we've taken all the guesswork out of it for our customers." The catalogue includes a listing of all "green" products offered by Flanagan's, with full information, in several categories, about why the product is environmentally friendly." The catalogue will be included with the monthly newsletter, from time to time; it is also available through sales representatives or through customer service. And it is available in printed version, for those who prefer that.
Flanagan's wants to be eco-friendly, but also wants to make sure everyone gets all the green information they can, so they have opted to distribute this important guide in several forms, including print.
Oakes continues to believe "It's all about the customer... We've always been about service, but adding new services and thinking outside the box, are important."
Or maybe inside the inbox - the latest place for Flanagan customers to look for the latest in exclusive food industry information.