Recently, I attended NAMA’s CoffeeTea&Water Show. There I sat in on many educational sessions. One that was particularly interesting to me was made up of a panel of young professionals in the vending industry. I was listening to the panel discuss the emerging workplace and how operators can best provide services for it. They presented a number of great ideas, both manufacturer and operator viewpoints, from designing a collaborative space to new pantry service offering ideas. But at some point the conversation morphed into Millennials and how they communicate. It was here that Elyssa Allahyar-Steiner, vice president of sales and marketing for Avanti Markets used the term "snackable content". All your messages to Millennials need to be "snackable". I think I might have laughed out loud – not because I did not agree with Steiner’s message, but because it was so perfect for the industry.
Bite-sized nuggets of good information
For the people who make snacking their life’s work, it’s a perfect term for how they should market to their customers, both the locations and the end user. Because that is what today’s vending operation needs to do. It must tell its story to the location manager, share how it can solve pain points the human resource manager has, relieve the stress of the office manager, etc. Then on touchscreens, apps and signs, talk directly to the consumer – the people using the vending machine, micro market or coffee service in the breakroom.
What is snackable content? It’s short, easy to understand information. Usually it is a combination of words and images that conveys information faster than reading. Think shrinking your marketing message down to 100 calorie snack pack size. It must be relevant, quickly understood and drive a more meaningful connection. This last one is the big winner. Today’s consumer is usually doing multiple things at once. Even if it’s just looking up something on the internet, there’s advertisements and “Read Me” links on every site. So how do you get the attention of someone whose attention is so diverted? Snackable content. Give them the tasty nuggets that tell your story, because stories sell products, especially among Millennials. They want transparency, and that means knowing who works at the company and what the company stands for – not your marketing message, but your business personality and how what you are saying or doing relates to them or a an experience they have had. It's about building a rapport.
How to start
There are thousands of blogs, marketing presentations and articles on snackable content, but here are some quick ideas on how to begin. First, take your story, because I know from personal experience that you all have one – and it’s a good one, and write it. Now go back through and highlight the best parts. These are your nuggets. Share them one at a time, with pictures, fun fonts or quick videos that represent the words.
Continue beyond your story by posting messages and content that is both relevant and reinforces your message. If you source your own coffee, post things about coffee – from flavors to sustainability. If you focus on healthy items in your micro markets, give statistics on the healthy items you offer: is 1 in 5 healthy? Repost statistics on America's growing demand for healthy options.
One of the best ways to come up with ideas for your snackable content is to look at what is trending. Trending, better known as the topics of interest to today's majority, might include the preference towards healthy eating, great tasting coffee, sustainability, spicy flavors, functional foods, etc. These are broad examples, but there are also local trends. Use your vending management system data, micro market data or ask your suppliers for data that you can share. Post information about the percentage of people who opt for bottled water? Share a chart about how much coffee is consumed during each day part. This information is short, relevant, and is something every worker can relate to. Find that cross over area between your business and the interests of your customers. Is there a festival in your area, a parade, an important sporting event? These are perfect cross over points.
I know from the questions asked in the panel discussion that some of the people in the room weren’t sure about marketing online or with social media. It made them uncomfortable, whether from a lack of knowledge or a dislike for technology. However, they were there, learning and asking questions in order to grow their companies. Now their marketing message can match their product offerings – quick, convenient, refreshing. It’s great to be in vending.