Your website is one of a good food brand’s biggest investments. It is the research hub for both consumers and retail buyers alike. In an industry fraught with ever-thinning margins, it is easy for you to worry that you aren’t getting a big return on that big marketing spend.
It may help to consider your website part of a complete marketing system where all communication channels work together. This is where the concept of evergreen content comes into play. “Evergreen” content is writing or imagery that is used beyond a single project. That’s why they’re evergreen—they’re perpetual.
But if websites are the most evergreen content, how do you spread that spend across your other communications channels? By repurposing the foundational text to other channels.
I get it, though. You got into this business to make food and share it with people. It can be overwhelming to decide what to focus on or know how to choose a vendor partner to help you complete your marketing projects.
In episodes 75 and 77, I’ve talked you through the ways you can the ROI of your photography and writing assets. Now, in this third and last episode of our conversation about evergreen content, I’ll share with you tips on extending the life of your website content, because your primary web pages should be the most evergreen content of all.
Virginia Foodie Essentials:
- Evergreen content is writing or imagery that you create that is used beyond a single project. The opposite of evergreen content is trending content. - Georgiana Dearing
- You definitely want to use trending topics, especially when they're appropriate for your brand, but you shouldn't spend too much time or money on fleeting messages. The core of your marketing investment should be in content that reaches as far as it can. - Georgiana Dearing
- A website is one of the biggest investments a brand can make, and your primary web pages should be the most evergreen content of all. - Georgiana Dearing
- It's very, very easy to spend a lot of money on marketing projects that end up not earning you any money later. You sort of just start throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks if you head off without a strategy. - Georgiana Dearing
- If you're not seeing your designer talk about the user experience or talk about font and color choices, those are red flags because you don't want to hire someone who's going to take orders from you. - Georgiana Dearing
- When you work with a marketing expert, you should get branded messaging — messaging that is specific to your brand, which means you'll get a higher level of writing than you could probably do on your own. - Georgiana Dearing
Key Points From This Episode:
- Evergreen content refers to content—whether through writing or imagery—which you create and is used beyond a single project.
- Trending content is the opposite of evergreen content, and while trends are useful for certain brands and for a period of time, you shouldn’t spend too much time or money on fleeting messages.
- Your website is the biggest investment that you can make and is a primary source for your evergreen content.
- In order to maximize the return on your website investment, partner with creative vendors who will add value to your brand story.
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Note: We use AI transcription so there may be some inaccuracies
[00:00:00] Georgiana Dearing: You got into this business to make food and share it with people, and it can be overwhelming to decide what to focus on. Or know how to choose a vendor partner.
[00:00:12] Georgiana Dearing: Welcome to the Virginia Foodie Podcast, where we lift the lid on the craft food industry and tell the stories behind the good food, good people, and good brands that you know and love. If you've ever come across a yummy food brand and wondered how did they do that? How did they turn that recipe into a successful business?
[00:00:32] Georgiana Dearing: Then we've got some stories for you.
[00:00:37] Georgiana Dearing: Hello, there are you Bakers and bakers and shopping cart shakers. Thanks for tuning in for another episode, and if this is your first time here, then welcome. I'm glad you tuned in. I'm George Steering and I provide marketing strategy and coaching for the good food brands, and today is another Marketing Monday episode, so I'll be sharing insights and tips about marketing your packaged food.
[00:01:02] Georgiana Dearing: This is the third and final episode in my conversation about evergreen content. Evergreen content is one of the five elements of a healthy marketing platform, and I talk about these in my coaching group. Marketing made easy. Those five elements are your sales goals, your annual marketing plan, your budget, and I mean time and money, your management systems and your content plan.
[00:01:29] Georgiana Dearing: If you haven't heard the term before, evergreen content is writing or imagery that you create that is used beyond a single project. The opposite of evergreen content is trending content. And here's an example of the difference that I pulled from Reid Drummond, the star of Food networks show the pioneer woman how re met her husband led an Oklahoma rancher is evergreen content.
[00:01:57] Georgiana Dearing: It's why she became a blogger, a recipe developer, and a photographer, and then evolved on into the national brand she is today. She returns to that origin story of being a marketer who met a cowboy in a bar all the time. Skipping through a ski lodge with lab dressed as a leprechaun is trending content.
[00:02:20] Georgiana Dearing: It leverages the origin story of her Marlboro man. He's funny, supportive, and kind of cute, at least in her eyes, but it's not something that will live on her website forever. It's just a quick video that happened. You definitely wanna use trending topics, especially when they're appropriate for your brand, but you shouldn't spend too much time or money on fleeting messages.
[00:02:46] Georgiana Dearing: The core of your marketing investment should be in content that reaches as far as it can. So to get the most out of your marketing budget, be sure you maximize the return on your photo and video spend any paid content that you get and your website copy. In episode 75 and 77, I talked about ways to source your photography and writing partners.
[00:03:12] Georgiana Dearing: And how you can extend the reach of those marketing assets. But your website is one of the biggest investments a brand can make, and your primary webpages should be the most evergreen content of all. For instance, you rarely need to update your about page or your mission and value statements, so that should have a very long lifespan.
[00:03:37] Georgiana Dearing: I get it though. You got into this business to make food and share it with people, and it can be overwhelming to decide what to focus on or know how to choose a vendor partner. So the options I'm covering today are a brand strategist, a website designer, and marketing experts, and each of these has a different impact on your overall marketing strategy.
[00:04:00] Georgiana Dearing: I'll also share tips about what to invest in and when to do it. And then I'll wrap up with some ways to spread that spend, so it brings you the maximum return on your investment. First up is a brand strategist, and these engagements can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $20,000 or more, depending on really how you choose to engage with them.
[00:04:25] Georgiana Dearing: So what you should get, no matter what the spend is, you should get some sense of a competitive analysis. Advice or direction for your mission, vision and values, benchmarks that would guide your content creation, recommendations for that content, and some kind of go-to-market plan. What you won't get is the content, unless it's specified in the contract.
[00:04:50] Georgiana Dearing: You might get sample content as part of their exploration or work that they do for you. You won't get package design now unless it's specified in the contract. And you won't get product descriptions. Again, these are all contingent on what problems are you solving with this particular brand strategist.
[00:05:09] Georgiana Dearing: So it can be a big spend and it may feel like you don't get a lot for it, but the work is really crucial for your brand strategy. It's very, very easy to spend a lot of money on marketing projects that end up not earning you any money later. You sort of just start throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks if you head off without a strategy.
[00:05:34] Georgiana Dearing: So if you can afford it, work with a brand strategist before you hire a web designer. So next up is a website designer. Again, this can cost anywhere from 5,000 to $25,000 depending on the size of your site and the type of site that you're building and the number of products that you're trying to include.
[00:05:57] Georgiana Dearing: So in a typical site design engagement, what you're going to get is your website design. You should get user experience design, fonts, colors and graphics, image selections, SEO optimization, and some kind of backend setup. So if you're not seeing your designer, talk about the user experience or talk about font and color choices.
[00:06:22] Georgiana Dearing: Those are red flags because you don't wanna hire someone who's going to take orders from you. There are a lot of people who are functionally working on site building, but they're not really adding anything to the process, and they're basically just repeating what you're telling them that should be on your site.
[00:06:39] Georgiana Dearing: What you want is a website designer who can really build you a site that is functioning correctly because the way humans interact with websites is not how they interact with a printed page. So, again, there's a wide range in expense for this, but I wanna talk about some things that you're not gonna get.
[00:06:59] Georgiana Dearing: And first off, you're not gonna get unlimited revisions, right? I have to say that. But if you keep doing back and forth with them saying, do this, don't do that. You're really gonna ratchet your costs up. So be sure that you have an understanding of how those proofs and edits will happen before you get started, and make sure you're working as effectively as possible.
[00:07:22] Georgiana Dearing: You're not gonna get new photography. I talked about photography selections, but you're not gonna get new photo shoots. What they're gonna do is choose from what you have, or they're gonna go to copyright free licensing, things that you can use on your site. You're not going to get copywriting, you're not gonna get blog creation.
[00:07:42] Georgiana Dearing: And you won't get a transfer of your old data unless it's specified in your contract. So I'm gonna talk for a minute or two about these things, the copywriting and blog creation, because a lot of times people think that every single page is gonna be billed out. And really when you're doing, working with a site designer, they're designing the site structure itself and the way the visitor interacts with the content.
[00:08:08] Georgiana Dearing: But they're not gonna write new stuff for you unless you have that spelled out in your contract. And then you also wanna vet somebody who has understanding of writing. Typically, web designers are great engineers, not great at being emotive and expressive. The other part of that is transferring your old data.
[00:08:28] Georgiana Dearing: You may get one or two sample blog pages set up so that you can understand how the formatting works on your new site, but somebody is gonna have to move that content from one site to another. It really depends on what's on your site. Now, sometimes there's very simple tools that will literally just like download content from one site and upload it to the new site, but you wanna make sure that you read your contract carefully and understand what you're paying for.
[00:08:56] Georgiana Dearing: So I've covered a brand strategist. Great. If you can start before the site design, I covered website development. And now I'm gonna talk about working with marketing experts. Again, these costs vary by engagement can go as low as $2,500 and $10,000 or more, depending on really what you're asking them to do.
[00:09:19] Georgiana Dearing: But what you should get when you work with a marketing expert is content strategy or some kind of adherence to your brand strategy for any marketing materials that they develop. You should get SEO and keyword recommendations for your website. You should get branded messaging. Messaging that is specific to your brand, which means you'll get a higher level of writing than you could probably do on your own.
[00:09:44] Georgiana Dearing: You should get unlimited use of the text and you should get some limited content, like you may be hiring them for your about page, your homepage, and your product descriptions. Those things, it really depends on what you're asking that marketing expert to do. And there are niche marketing experts that you can hire for content writing as well, so those costs would be 50 cents to a dollar a word, or 500 to a thousand dollars a post somewhere in that range.
[00:10:14] Georgiana Dearing: I recommend paying by the project instead of by the word, because you wanna make sure that you're getting effective copy and not having them cut off cuz you don't wanna run the bill so high. So you wanna really have an understanding of the project that they're hiring them for first, and then just pay for the project.
[00:10:35] Georgiana Dearing: What you're gonna get with a niche expert is very specific types of content. You will find people who can write mission statements or your values for you. You'll find experts on homepage copy or landing pages or product pages, and definitely product descriptions. I spoke with, I think Anna Bradfield was a product description expert.
[00:10:57] Georgiana Dearing: You'll get a higher level of writing than you can probably do on your own, and that's gonna be because it's very specific to how people interact with webpages. You should get s e o and keyword suggestions, big red flag if you're not getting that for your web copy projects. You'll get that branded messaging and unlimited use of the text, and you won't get content that comes back to you formatted for the publication.
[00:11:23] Georgiana Dearing: So that means it'll be come back to you with the headline meta descriptions, intro paragraphs, subheadings, blog excerpts. All of those pieces of the content will be clearly identified so that you can get them posted to your site. Now, for an overall marketing expert or for niche content writers, What you won't get again is unlimited revisions.
[00:11:47] Georgiana Dearing: Even when you pay by the project, you're not gonna get unlimited revisions. There'll be some kind of cutoff for the amount of work that they'll put in for that flat fee. You won't get the content posted to your site unless there's some service that they add. Maybe if it's a platform that they work in, they might do that, but really you're gonna need someone on staff who understands how to add content to your site.
[00:12:11] Georgiana Dearing: You're not gonna get photography unless it's specified in the contract, and most likely that's gonna come from copyright free libraries. You won't get the email copy, the social media posts, recipes, sell sheets, et cetera. You won't get that other iterations of the content unless you hire them for separate engagements or.
[00:12:32] Georgiana Dearing: If the contract includes this work, so you might be working with someone who is a marketing expert in the food industry, and you might have them on contract to put a blog post up and write the email and write the social post. That's a typical thing, but you wanna make sure that you have it clarified before you head down the road.
[00:12:52] Georgiana Dearing: I just so often see people get a little disappointed because they thought, oh, I thought I was getting something else. So ask before you start a project. Say, please spell out what I'm getting. So where should you invest your money and why should you invest with different kinds of vendors? Well, a brand strategist, if you're able start here.
[00:13:14] Georgiana Dearing: I have a interview with Sandra Velazquez from, no, I'll post the episode number in the show notes. But she spent an entire year figuring out her brand strategy before she even produced product, and now she's killing it. She got into her dream retail accounts right away. She went on Shark Tank and then turned them down, and now she's expanding her business even further and getting other investors.
[00:13:40] Georgiana Dearing: It's amazing. But she's a rarity in that she stopped and did all of that work before she even did another thing. Website design. When you're ready for e-commerce, you should work with a web designer. Sometimes you can get by with setting up a Squarespace site or a WIC site on your own. But when you're ready for real transactions to take place, work with a web designer because there's very specific ways to make your e-commerce site work as hard as it can for you.
[00:14:12] Georgiana Dearing: And be sure to select someone who's focused on e-commerce and not general site design and ask for case studies before you sign on. When do you work with a marketing expert? Well, you can work with an ex consultant at any stage. They can help you with established sites. They can help you make the most out of a new site.
[00:14:30] Georgiana Dearing: They can be part of the site design process. You might have an expert working with your site designer, or after you've started a new site, you can hire them later. You might also wanna hire them annually just to work with your strategy. So any time that you can bring them in and out, and a good expert will focus on the things that are important, and then offer up ways where you can keep your spend down.
[00:14:55] Georgiana Dearing: So talking about that spend, how are we gonna spread that spend? Well, if websites are the most evergreen content, how do you spread that spend across the other communication channels? By repurposing the foundational text to other channels. For instance, if you have a small blurb on your mission page that says, we source locally whenever possible, that evergreen statement can and should become a longform blog post.
[00:15:23] Georgiana Dearing: On your website, you can tell the reader how you source who your vendors are and what the, whenever possible part of that statement means. You could honestly get three stories out of that one statement, and you could probably revisit it year after year. And because that evergreen statement has now expanded into a blog post or two or three, you can turn those posts into email copy for your subscribers.
[00:15:50] Georgiana Dearing: And each email you send can have two to three companion social media posts that are spread out over time. As with all repurposed content, the narrative should be tweaked and should include the reader's point of view. And now be loaded up with I and we statements. Of course, these important evergreen topics should live in your cell sheets and your point of sale materials as well.
[00:16:14] Georgiana Dearing: Now, I coach clients over and over again about the five communication channels you control. That's your website, cell sheets packaging, emo marketing, and social media streams. And there is a reason your website sits at the top of that list. It's typically the very first huge investment a small business makes, but it should also be the source for the answer to, but what am I supposed to say?
[00:16:40] Georgiana Dearing: Your website holds your entire story. It's the research hub for all of your customers, consumers, and retail buyers alike. And your sell sheets and catalogs are your business. Face that B2B sales pitch in an easily digestible format. And your packaging should tell your story when you aren't there to do it.
[00:17:01] Georgiana Dearing: Email can be your most profitable communication channel with every dollar you put into mastering that platform. Coming back to you in multiples. And social media is the discovery zone, reaching the broadest audience of all. So you can see that every one of these tools that you're using should be giving a familiar and recognizable story about your brand.
[00:17:25] Georgiana Dearing: And your marketing strategy should leverage all five channels and that content should work together in tidy, mutually supportive system. So if you're wondering how to get a system like that in place, I'm happy to answer any questions. So feel free to reach out and that my friends is a wrap on another Marketing Monday.
[00:17:44] Georgiana Dearing: If you enjoyed this episode, please hit that like or share button. It's the easiest thing you can do to support small businesses. Please also subscribe to the Virginia Foodie wherever you stream. And you won't miss another bite of good food marketing. Thanks for listening, and if you wanna learn more about how to grow your own food brand, then click on Grow My firstname.lastname@example.org.
[00:18:10] Georgiana Dearing: If you're a lover of local food, then be sure to follow us. We are at. VA foodie on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Join the conversation and tell us about your adventures with good food, good people, and good brands.