Perspectives

Artificial Intelligence for Marketers

As a marketer, you know the importance of content. That’s not changing any time soon. But in 2020, there’s a new buzzword that’s driving the strategy and success of worldwide marketing efforts: experience. Back in 2014, we saw content-first design hit peak momentum. Then mobile-first design came on the scene, which is still widely considered the best practice for digital marketing. Then, Google shifted the conversation toward experience. In 2017 Google CEO Sundar Pichai summarized the Google I/O keynote by describing, “An important shift from a mobile-first world to an AI-first world.” When Google announces a monumental move that impacts the core of its business, it’s worth paying attention.

Brad Hill
Sr. Director of Product and Innovation

5 Key Steps to Create a High-Visibility Website

You have a website that promotes your company, products and services. It’s beautiful. It has your branding, product list, offers, articles, white papers, perspectives and a best-in-class user experience. Now what? You need traffic! And not just any traffic, you need qualified, targeted traffic. How do you attract it? Here are the steps:

Elizabeth Brooks
Account Director

Mini Millennials: Meet Gen Alpha

Move over Centennials… Generation Alpha is on the scene! Born starting in 2010 through today, they are the children of Millennials. While Generation Alpha makes up only 12.5% of the population today – and are only ten years old, they will continue to grow in numbers and impact over the coming years.

Jennifer Cannon
Research and Insights

A Toast to the Rise of Booze-Free Libations

Mocktails are by no means “new” beverages, but what is new now is the level of attention paid to them. Although a recent article on AP NEWS states that modern Americans are currently drinking just as much as our countrymen did before Prohibition, there is also a parallel, yet opposite movement toward taking a break from alcoholic beverages. It’s this “occasional teetotaler” trend where the new generation of mocktails comes in to play.

Jorge Cespedes
Culinary Creative Director

What Content Is Right When?

You’ve heard it a million times: content is king. That’s not going to change anytime soon. That means to remain relevant marketers are moving away from pushing products and toward illustrating solutions. Easy enough—show your product adds value—done. But there is a catch: not all types of content work well in all situations. You have to ensure your solution is presented in the right form so it generates the intended outcome.

Michelle Johnson
Media Planner

7 Flavors to Suggest in Your Next Innovation Brainstorm

I bet this has happened to you. You’re in a brainstorm and someone sets up the challenge like, “We need to come up with new tortilla chip flavors: shoot.”

Meredith Daca
Senior Culinary Planner

Sriracha: From Obscurity to Mainstream

For those of us who track flavors, it’s interesting to look back and try to analyze the “why” of a flavor’s journey from emerging to everywhere.

Jorge Cespedes
Culinary Creative Director

4 Ways to Tell if Your Website Is Operator-Friendly

Article

Almost all foodservice manufacturers have some kind of web presence. But how do you know if yours truly meets the needs of operators? To find out what they’re looking for, our team at the Marlin Network has interviewed a diverse panel of operators and taken a look at what’s happening in the larger digital universe to compile some must-have features.

Stephanie Lueck
Digital Strategist

Connect with DSRs, Connect with Operators

Article

“Foodservice has changed dramatically over the last decade”. It seems like an obvious statement, but to put the shifts into perspective, let’s go back to 2009 and see how many menus call out “farm-to-table” ingredients. Or ask an operator how many e-newsletters they get on a weekly basis. Try to order cases of product directly online or anyone what a “meal kit” is. Today, we’re in a new digital era of away-from-home food, driven by wellness, convenience and personalization.

Christopher Wolf
Senior VP of Insights

Top 5 Reasons Operators Sign Up for E-Newsletters

Article

The eternal question for foodservice manufacturers stands: how do I meaningfully reach the operator? Well-worn answers like print ads and DSR visits—though still relevant—are no longer the obvious answers.

Jackie Haldiman
VP of Integrated Communications

Can Recipes Really Boost Your Product Sales?

Article

Keeping the menu fresh is one of an operator’s most important roles. And providing recipe inspiration is one of yours as a partner. By demonstrating your product’s versatility, your recipes can show time-starved operators how one ingredient can work in multiple items across the menu—benefitting operators and you—with increased sales.

Thomas Talbert
VP Culinary Marketing

5 Flavor Imports to Watch

Article

For decades, there was a widespread notion that persisted in the food industry—all new ethnic flavor imports needed to be “Americanized” so hesitant palates could warm up to the unfamiliar.

Jorge Cespedes
Culinary Creative Director

What does “better for you” mean in 2018?

Article

What foods are good for you? It’s tempting to see this question as a modern concern, but the connection between food and health goes back through recorded history.

Meredith Daca
Senior Culinary Planner

How to Go Digital (and 4 Ways You Shouldn’t)

Article

You need an online presence to better serve your customers and operators, but do not fall into the temptation to go with anyone other than an experienced digital marketing agency.

Brad Hill
Sr. Director of Product and Innovation

DMARC Get Set Go

Article

Email has arguably been a cornerstone for digital communication in the internet age, but email has some painful flaws that still need to be addressed. Email as a technology grew from very simple beginnings in the 1960s. It started out simply as a way to leave a message for a user in a file folder on a computer that those users would see when they logged into the mainframe. This eventually grew into a program that could be used to easily share messages from one user to another on the same computer.

Brad Hill
Sr. Director of Product and Innovation

Google’s DeepMind AI

Article

In 2014, Google acquired a British artificial intelligence company, DeepMind Technologies, with the goal of creating a general-purpose artificial intelligence (AI). The algorithm, Alpha Go, beat a human at the ancient Chinese board game “Go.” It’s not the first time a machine has outwitted a human at a game, but this particular game proves the AI’s ability to approximate human intuition and critical thinking. The Google AI uses a technique called “deep reinforcement learning,” which makes it different from other forms of AI like IBM’s Deep Blue or Watson, Siri, and Google Now.

Brad Hill
Sr. Director of Product and Innovation

The Gastronomic Journey of Coffee

Article

For a couple hundred years the production of coffee was kept secret in Yemen until the mid-1600’s when a clever and sleek Dutch navy boat was able to sail of the port of Java in Indonesia with a couple of live seedlings. The vessel was then off to the Royal Botanical Gardens of Amsterdam where the plant was reproduced and later used as a gift for King Louis the 14th of France. It was that coffee plant in Versailles, which became the ancestor to all other plants in the European continent.

Jorge Cespedes
Culinary Creative Director

The Evolution of PR

Article

In past years, PR programs have been primarily driven by traditional earned media strategies – submission of product news and pitches to magazine editors. The borders between paid, owned and earned are becoming less black & white and we’re seeing a shift toward content marketing amplification. As the role of PR in communications plans evolves, so must our skills.

Amber Hensley
Public Relations Director

Begin With The End In Mind

Article

Outside of our industry, it’s easy to overlook the complexity of the work we do. From finding the right segment for a new product, to understanding the appropriate medium for a brand refresh, there’s a strange array of factors to consider in the foodservice marketplace. Lucky for our clients, we’re experts in the category. Our experience has equipped us to solve any challenge and if something new comes to the forefront, we do our best work to find an optimal solution. For planners, that means improving how we measure success.

Michelle Johnson
Media Planner

A Marketing Approach: Division vs. Brand

Article

Most of the communication planning requests we get are tied to promotion of a particular brand or product, which makes sense – that’s where the sales happen. This approach, however, tends to isolate each brand plan, not allowing the company to take advantage of bigger, more integrated opportunities. For clients whose foodservice business supports a family of brands, we recommend establishing marketing initiatives at both the Division and Brand level.

Jackie Haldiman
VP of Integrated Communications

Our Need for Speed

Article

Back in 1993, Jakob Nielsen published an article entitled, “Response Times: The 3 Important Limits.” His research was ground breaking and impacted computer software design for years to come. In ’93, there were 623 websites on the entire internet, primarily used by scientists and scholars. Most Americans were blissfully unaware of the Internet, or the “information super highway” as we called it for a spell. 1993 seems like a long time ago. For those that track time by movies, ’93 debuted Jurassic Park (the original film), Schindler’s List and Sandlot. Do you feel old yet? I do, especially when you rewatch those classics today.

Brad Hill
Sr. Director of Product and Innovation

Is Content the Way to the Wallet?

Article

You’ve heard it before … Content is King. You understand that companies are increasingly expected to publish valuable content to establish a relationship with end consumers. You can probably recollect a recent piece of content or social media post from a consumer brand you that caught your attention. Unfortunately, many B2B companies are unwilling to make the investment in content marketing, or are unsure where to begin. Here’s why investing in content marketing is important for B2B companies.

Meredith Daca
Senior Culinary Planner

How to Make Killer Websites

Article

Knowing that 81% of people do research online before making purchase decisions, website are an important part of your marketing strategy and can help facilitate a shopper's research. A website should be considered an extension of your sales team. When it is done right, the site is informative, useful and is a positive reflection of your brand. It must amount to more than a series of superficial interactions and fancy animations

Brad Hill
Sr. Director of Product and Innovation

Yuzu what?

Article

What’s happening in emerging citrus flavors. Lemons, limes, oranges and grapefruits. These are the usual suspects when it comes to citrus fruits. But have you tried yuzu? Kaffir lime? Pomelo? Tangelo? Consumers palates are evolving and they are seeking more adventurous citrus flavors and as a result different kinds of sweet, sour and tangy flavors brightening up menus. Here are some lesser-known citrus flavors to watch for. Calamansi–Unless you are Filipino, Malaysian or Vietnamese, you may not be familiar with calamansi, a sour, tart citrus fruit that is native to South East Asia. Lucky for us in the US, it is now grown in California and more readily accessible.

Meredith Daca
Senior Culinary Planner

What Wall Street Wants

Article

Let’s face it, in an industry known for penny-profit, making a buck is getting harder and harder. In “younger” segments of commercial food service, like fast casual, unit count expansion is the #1 growth strategy employed by executives. And this works for a while. As segments mature, growth is harder to achieve. The darling fast casual segment recently dropped below its double-digit growth rates for the first time in recent history.

Sheri Austin
EVP/General Manager

Work that Works

Article

There’s an old adage that marketers use, “I know half of my marketing budget doesn’t work, I just don’t know which half.” That was once true. Clients had to rely on agency account directors or creative directors to translate results. Not necessarily the case anymore. In this age of analytics and big data, there are dozens of measurements to tell us what work works and what work doesn’t. But even as sophisticated as our ability to gather metrics has become, there is still no secret formula, no app or algorithm for generating ideas.

Tim Bade
Chief Creative Director