Among the many marketing tools you have available to incorporate into your personal chef marketing strategy is video–specifically YouTube. Food videos are huge. According to a 2014 story in BloombergBusiness, subscriptions to the 300 most-viewed food channels on YouTube more than tripled in 2013 over the previous year and views of videos on those channels jumped 59 percent, according to an analysis by Google.

And, let’s face it, the appetite, as it were for food videos, has only continued to grow. And it’s not just YouTube. If you’re on Facebook you can’t help but be blasted with food videos on your feed. As The Wall Street Journal reported in November 2015, “Indeed, if there’s a killer content category in these still early days of Facebook’s video platform, it’s food videos, say publishers and content creators.”

For APPCA member chef Anne Blankenship of Designed Cuisine in Dallas, it took a conversation with another local personal chef who had been a graphic designer and is a wealth of information about “technie stuff” to inspire her. “Try as I might, it is so hard to keep up with all the stuff and understand it and how to use it,” Blankenship said. “But because of her suggestions, I got myself motivated to try and do some of what we discussed. She has only been in business two years so I know this is the type of thing that is helping her business. Things like creating an Instagram account (in the name of my business) and using it; updating my Facebook page as often as possible; doing a blog on my website; updating my keywords on my website; creating a Twitter account and using it; getting reviews on Yelp; doing a video, uploading it to YouTube (creating the YouTube account in the name of my PC business), and then imbedding that link in my website, etc.”

Blankenship has been doing cooking demos at the Dallas flagship Williams-Sonoma and got a friend of hers to video of one of the demos, which is now posted on YouTube.

Now she’s working on how to do with at home that looks professional. She paid 99 cents for an app called CP Pro to help edit videos. Her goal is to create seasonal pieces on YouTube to link to her website.

There are a few ways you can go with video. One is to be in it yourself, chatting to your audience as you demonstrate how to make a dish. Here’s a great example of this from APPCA member Nicole Gaffney, who has created a fab YouTube channel called Coley Cooks:

Gaffney is engaging and enthusiastic about her subject. This video, less than a minute, is part of her quick tips series. She does others at around two minutes to demonstrate recipes.

“I guess the best piece of advice would be to just go for it!” she said. “Just make videos and put them up there and see what happens – that’s pretty much been my strategy. That, and don’t make them too long. No one has the attention span to sit through a 10-minute cooking video. And try to make them as entertaining as possible, because again, people have short attention spans.”

How long? “I think a minute or two is best,” Gaffney said.

Then there’s the question of a script and basic logistics.

“I usually just wing it but sometimes I write it out before recording,” Gaffney explained. “I record everything myself with a tripod, but it’s rather challenging, so if you can have someone else do it, I recommend going that route.”

Another technique is something that’s become pretty huge on Facebook–those videos of recipes that seem to create themselves, using display and titles to explain how the recipes come together. Tastemade, a video network, has perfected this style.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Tastemade edits videos specifically with Facebook’s unique qualities in mind. “For example,” it noted, “since Facebook videos autoplay without sound, Tastemade uses graphics to identify and walk people through recipes. They also shoot food at specific angles, taking into consideration how clips will look on mobile devices, where the majority of Facebook users peruse their news feeds. And they try and grab people’s attention early, knowing that Facebook videos play automatically.”

White on Rice Couple has also got this down beautifully–which makes sense since they’ve been known for years in the food industry for their sumptuous food photography.

So, what do you need in terms of equipment and tools? According to Entrepreneur, you need to have good lighting, a good camera, and good sound. They suggest spending some money on a Lavalier microphone, for instance. Then run the recording through a good noise-removal filter. A softbox lighting kit–or even some desk lamps–placed strategically will create depth and visual interest. Your camera can be whatever  you have on your smart phone, tablet, or laptop, or, if you’re really serious, a digital single-lens reflex camera, like a Nikon or Canon.

I would add one more thing for those videos in which you’re not in the frames or narrating–good background music that enhances but doesn’t distract from the atmosphere you’re trying to create.

Entrepreneur also suggests editing with jump cuts, which is a technique that pulls together dozens or more little clips. This is a perfect style for food videos focused on recipes, since there are natural breaks between steps.

Speaking of which, you may need some video software to help you through the editing process. Instagram, Vine, and Twitter have apps that let you edit and upload footage. And you can, of course, upload video to Facebook. But if you want to do something more sophisticated, Social Media Examiner suggests tools like Adobe After Effects, an industry-leading tool that helps you create motion graphics that costs around $30 per month or free tools like PowToonand Camtasia to create video footage. You should also check out this article on Filmora for their top 10 on video editors.

Are you creating YouTube videos to promote your business? If so, please share the links to your videos and tell us how you’ve been creating them.

Not an APPCA member? Now’s the perfect time to join! Go to personalchef.com to learn about all the benefits that come with membership.

Often on Friday or Monday on Facebook, we’ll ask our members what’s on for the weekend or, afterwards, what they did that can inspire us. When Anne Blankenship of Designed Cuisine in Dallas responded on a Friday that she had a gig at the Dallas flagship Williams-Sonoma store doing a cooking demo, we just had to learn more. The demo went wonderfully and Anne sent us a wrap up of how it came to pass and how it went. More importantly, though, she also talked about why it was so important for her–and other personal chefs–to do this.

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On a recent day off I was wandering around Williams-Sonoma, finally getting around to spending some gift cards I’d been hoarding. I ran into a friend of mine who I thought still worked there. In the process of catching up she asked, “Didn’t you graduate from culinary school recently?” I said yes and she immediately pulled over the assistant manager and said, “You need to talk to her!” So, long story short, they asked me to put in an application to do cooking demos/teach classes on my schedule. I did it because I don’t have a full roster of PC clients and could use the money. Okay, and I was thinking, “STORE DISCOUNT!”

By the way, I didn’t know that Williams-Sonoma has a chef card you can register for online if you’re in the business. It offers a 20 percent discount. My friend told me about it when I went in, so tell everyone about this!

I chatted briefly with the assistant manager about some details and sent a follow-up e-mail a few days later, thanking her for her time. In fact, when I was there, they asked if I could do a demo the next day, but I was already booked to be a “sous chef” with a friend of mine from school who had a dinner party. But at least they were interested. When I didn’t receive a response to my e-mail, I called the assistant manager two days later and she apologized for them not getting back to me. They wanted me to meet the manager, and she had been tied up with reviews, etc. all week. But she made it clear that they were very interested.

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She then called me back, said their guest chef for the weekend had cancelled, and asked if I was available (I had a dinner party that cancelled) so I said YES and went in to chat about details. I then went home and put together a menu which I e-mailed to her.  They sent me home with one of their cool cookbooks, so I figured it would be prudent to try and use some of the recipes from it (“good PR”). So the chicken and the potatoes are from their book.

They left the recipe quantities to my discretion.  They said the store would be packed that day because of their Artisan Market (some local specialty vendors will have tables set up).  And it’s just a taste, so I doubled most of the recipes and quadrupled the asparagus dish, since it’s so cheap right now. They said not to go over $150; think I spent a total of $75, roughly.  And yes, the reimbursed me for the food cost. Here was my menu:

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Chicken & Sugar Snap Pea Stir Fry

Gratineed Asparagus with Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese

Roasted New Potatoes with Rosemary & Bay Leaf

“Fragole Al Marsala” (Strawberries in Marsala wine)

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Before the day of the event, I sent out an email to friends and family, inviting them to attend and noting the menu.

It went really well! I posted pictures on my Facebook page that a friend was kind enough to take for me. It got off to kind of a slow start because I’m not familiar with the store, so I had to keep going to the back for equipment and foodstuffs they had told me not to buy. But, I finally got it all together.

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And once I got rolling it was great!  Customers came and went. At one point I even had to reel them in by asking if they wanted something to eat. Once I got on a roll, though, I had them hooked. Everyone said how good the food was and that I was a good “Williams-Sonoma rep” by saying that two of the recipes had come from the book that was on display up front with me. I think I was responsible for selling three cookbooks. Some even bought some stuff in the store, and I made sure to tell the manager that. I did get to meet the actual manager (my contact being one of the assistant managers) and am hoping to hear from her about my application to teach cooking lessons. My contact did come up and say later that afternoon that everyone was noticing what a great job I was doing; that really made me feel good!

I couldn’t wear my chef jacket; it was just too hot and it’s very bulky. And I didn’t have a chance to get my menu printed and laminated; that would have been a great idea. I do that for dinner parties and such, but just ran out of time for this event. Since I wore my chef pants and black T-shirt, with Williams-Sonoma apron, I (luckily) thought at the last minute to paper clip (didn’t have anything else on me!) my business card to the front of my apron. People still thought I worked for W-S, but I was able to tell them no, that I am a personal chef.

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While it was still crowded I was able to pass out my business card to a good handful of people. I didn’t get anyone asking me much about my business so it wasn’t the greatest marketing day, but still, I was out front and chatted to a bunch of folks.

I think any PC who has the opportunity to do cooking demos (even if not paid) at places like Williams-Sonoma, Sur La Table, or some other store should jump on it! It is a terrific marketing opportunity. Every opportunity I got, I would tell people that I am a personal chef. Surprisingly (to me) I didn’t get a lot of questions about “what is a personal chef.”  Maybe people were too busy shopping or didn’t want to stop. They were, however, interested in the food!

Any time a PC can be in the public eye like this is a golden opportunity and you can make the most of it. Having completed culinary school, I felt fairly confident in what I could do. Plus, I have done many cooking classes and demonstrations before, so confidence isn’t really an issue. You do have to put yourself out there and be gracious, smile, talk to folks, etc.  So, it’s also a good chance for someone who may be a bit on the shy side to get some experience talking in front of a group. I had to read a “culinary book” in school (not a cookbook) and I chose Paula Deen’s “It Ain’t All About the Cooking.” I think that is what applies here. So you can cook, right? We all can, as personal chefs, but when you run your own business, as we do, you have to be able to do it all– marketing, cooking, taking care of your books, figuring out technology and how it can help you, networking, etc.

I would definitely say that all of us PC’s should at least market themselves at high-end cook stores like W-S. I am SO lucky that all this happened and that I had the time.

I heard back from Williams-Sonoma afterwards and they were very pleased with my gig as guest chef. They said they’ll be in touch about my application to work there part-time as cooking instructor. Woo hoo!

Have you been thinking about different ways to market your business? Have you done demos at retailers like Williams-Sonoma?

Not an APPCA member? Now’s the perfect time to join! Go to personalchef.com to learn about all the benefits that come with membership.

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