We live in a rapidly changing world, and is it any wonder that marketing would be no exception to that? Some of the marketing methods that worked 10 years ago or even five years ago just aren’t as effective in 2023. And if you want to reach your customer base—that is, today’s youth and their parents—with all of their changing likes, interests, priorities and concerns—then you need fresh strategies.

In this issue of SN, we are digging into all the marketing approaches that are proving to be effective in today’s world, specifically how you can apply concepts like branding or use tools like social media to engage with your target audience and show them that school meals are a great option!

Don’t worry, it’s not as complicated as you might think. With the right approach, Facebook won’t seem like such a negative place, and TikTok will no longer be the source of confusion and chaos you might’ve heard it is. Instead, you’ll feel excited about these amazing opportunities for marketing to a new generation of customers.

Here’s what you can expect to find in the May/June issue:

Identify Your Next Marketing Move

Most school nutrition teams would agree—attracting and retaining those loyal customers is an ongoing endeavor. It’s not just something you can do at the beginning of the school year and be done with it, especially when a one-time customer isn’t always a repeat customer. The good news? The right marketing moves can make this part of the job much easier. We’re taking a look at everything from productive responses to common complaints you hear (such as “My kids don’t like your food”), to how picture-based menus can increase accessibility and participation, to how workshopping your menu with students can be a gamechanger.

What’s Your Why?

People love brands because they know what they’re getting. It’s about consistency and appeal. Just as big corporations practice branding, so should your school nutrition program, making it easier for your customers to recognize and remember you. Use colors, taglines, logos and more—all built around a clear vision of your purpose—to ensure you have a consistent brand for your program.

Fear Not the Trolls

Don’t let negativity scare you away from having a social media presence! Yes, there are plenty of people who are on social media to stir up trouble, but you can use questions and criticism in a constructive way by turning them into a marketing opportunity where you engage with followers and educate them. While this approach can be successful, there are still common pitfalls you need to avoid. We’ve got a breakdown of how you can use social media to your advantage without letting negativity get you down.

Let’s TOK About School Nutrition

There’s a hot new social media platform that is taking the marketing world by storm: TikTok. But if you’re like many people, you might be rolling your eyes at the thought of one more app to learn. Here’s why TikTok is different from other social media platforms (and why it’s such a force to be reckoned with). You can use TikTok to promote your program, reach your target audience, and even find a little bit of inspiration for yourself.

NSLW-NSBW SY2023-24 Sneak Peek

Themes have been announced for next year’s National School Lunch Week and National School Breakfast Week! Coming up in October, #NSLW23 will take the theme “Level Up,” playing into the appeal of video games; then in March, #NSBW23 will have you saying “Surf’s Up” with its beachy theme. Our sneak peek of these two observances will give you all the details plus lots of ideas for the best décor, attire and menu options to make the weeks memorable as you celebrate your program.

Food Focus: Fresh Takes on Favorite Bakes

Many of us would describe bakes as comforting and flavorful, though if you want to make them trendy (and thus appealing to your customers) you might need to take a creative approach. Once you figure out what the kids in your cafeteria prefer, however, you’ll love the way bakes are flexible and offer plenty of variety, plus they lend themselves well to serving a crowd—you can make them in large batches, they hold well and they travel easily.

ANC Preview

Summer is coming, and you know what that means—ANC is almost here! Set for July 9-11 in Denver, this mainstay event offers great opportunity for networking, learning, planning and more. With its theme “Reach Higher,” this year’s conference has many workshops, meetings, and speeches you won’t want to miss. Plus, get insight into what you can expect at the Exhibitor Hall, the largest K-12 foodservice marketplace in the country!

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