If you run a local cooking class business and want to learn how you can book out every session through online marketing efforts, then this is the guide for you. We now know that 88% of people do online research before booking a session, so if you aren't actively utilizing digital marketing to reach new customers, you're missing out in a huge way. This guide is meant to give you some idea of the best channels to tackle and some foundational online marketing strategies to get your program up and running.
If you're just getting started, I suggest trying one channel at a time so as to not spread yourself too thin. Once the first channel is performing well, you can add another and another.
If you are operating at scale, you should consider working with an agency... allow me recommend Upgrow, of course ;) You can book a free strategy call now ;)
Social Media Marketing
Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter are all amazing platforms to reach qualified and targeted potential customers. And while having a profile and regularly posting content is important, I want to dig more into the social media ads side of this platform. We, as advertisers, can build and target audience profiles so that our budget is well spent by only reaching people who are most likely to convert.
Start by placing the tracking pixel for the social media channels you'd like to begin with. I typically recommend Facebook as a good channel to begin with as it has the largest user base, the most robust targeting features, and the lowest cost-per-click rates. Instagram could also be a great channel to go with, especially if you're actively taking a lot of pictures. YouTube is a good option if you regularly record and post videos for cooking demos or recipes.
If you do begin with Facebook Ads, you'll want to set some initial goals by asking yourself:
- How many bookings do I need to fill each week?
- How much can I afford to pay in marketing (margin) while still being profitable?
- Who is my target audience? - demographics, geography, interests, etc.
- Who are my competitors?
- How is my cooking class different and better than others? i.e. What can I offer that others can't?
With these details fleshed out, you can begin crafting your audience lists for targeting purposes, as well as create specialized creative and ad messages to connect with them in a way that resonates.
Here's an example of what your answers might look like:
Your cooking class is based in San Francisco (location) and most of your customers are between 24-35 years old (age), are young couples (relationship status), and are looking for a unique dating experience (interests).
Your audience can target that date range, dating relationship status, interest in cooking (or fans of cooking shows/pages/content), and even target their level of income. If you want to fine tune things even more, you could target only areas that are within a mile of the class location.
Here's another quick tip for your Facebook Advertising efforts: your ad message and creative should show couples in the image or video, promote the dating experience in the copy, and have a call-to-action offer with a unique promotion or package for couples.
Blogging, creating YouTube videos, and other types of content are effective strategies to fill your local cooking class for a number of reasons:
- If your content meets your users needs, it'll have a high SEO value to Google as well as to users who are searching for quality content in that niche.
- It helps establish yourself and your company as an expert with valuable knowledge to share about cooking.
- Posting this kind of content can inspire users who enjoy your service.
It can take quite a bit of time to create high quality content such as recipes, instructional cooking videos, blog articles, online courses, or email marketing newsletters about cooking, but these efforts pay off in the long run. You'll definitely want your content strategy to stay within the parameters of your niche so as not to not get lost in the vast seas of cooking and recipe content on the internet. You also want to try to reach local users and provide them with reasons for why they should take your particular cooking class over another options.
Some great content topics might include:
- Los Angeles Unique Date Ideas (insert your city of course, if it's not Los Angeles)
- Corporate Team Building Cooking Classes
- A Foodie's Guide to Los Angeles
- Classes for Home Cooks
SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
Organic search traffic accounts for 51% of website traffic!
Making sure your cooking class website ranks for searches related to your class offerings is critical to booking out consistently. There are a lot of things you can do to lift your rank on Google, but here are the main tactics that you should not neglect:
Keyword Research - the foundation of your SEO program starts with keyword research. There is a lot that goes into this so we recommend starting with this step-by-step guide if you're brand new to the subject. For SEO relating to cooking classes, you'll want to utilize niche keywords that include your cooking class specialty and city name to hit the most relevant users.
For example, a keyword like "cooking class" is likely too broad unless you're a national brand. But a term like "Los Angeles date night cooking class" may get less searches, but that user is much more likely to be a future customer!
Local - local search (i.e. Google Maps) ranking is even more important than traditional organic site ranking due to the large feature in the map pack and being in the user's local area. Since the majority of your cooking class clients will be from the local neighborhood or city, this is huge. Be sure to claim your listing on Google My Business, completely fill out your profile with high quality photos, and share your events calendar as posts regularly. To learn more about optimizing for top Google Maps ranking, check out this how to rank #1 on Google Maps post.
On-page content - content marketing will be a large piece of this, but there are some specific details you should know about for good on-page SEO that you'll also want to include in your strategy. Brian Dean at Backlinko has an excellent guide to the Perfectly Optimized Page with a nifty infographic as well. To summarize, you'll want to set your META Title, META Description, URL structure, internal anchor links, and on-page copy to include the keyword as well as secondary supporting terms. A useful SEO writing tool is Clearscope that will guide you in writing better content for organic ranking.
Backlinks - links from other sites pointing your site are a major SEO rank factor. Especially if those links are from high authority sites relevant to cooking. There are endless ways to get more backlinks, so you can feel free to stretch your creative muscles, but some popular methods are guest posting (email a cooking blogger and ask if you can write an article for their blog, and if so, include a link back to your site), listing your business in directories, getting into "things to do" guides, or replying to questions on HARO or Quora.
Google Ads (SEM/PPC)
Google Ads (formerly Google Adwords) is a fast and effective way to get immediate traffic and bookings. Just make sure you have a strong website and/or landing page before you start paying for every click (see tips below). A lot can go into having a well optimized Google Ads account. To get an overall idea on how to setup and optimize your Google Ads account, check out this video:
Some campaign, ad group, and keyword themes that are more specific to local cooking class marketing include:
- Activity Campaigns: unique date ideas, corporate team building ideas
- Cooking Class Specific: cooking classes near me, Los Angeles cooking classes
- Your Brand: ABC Cooking Classes
- Your specialty classes: Vegan cooking classes, Italian cooking classes
- Competitors: XYZ cooking classes
And here are some other settings you'll want to be sure to take advantage of:
- Target users only in your city, or if you're in a bigger metro, than even a 3 mile radius of your location
- Add related but irrelevant negative keywords to not waste budget such as: online courses, chef school, college
Web Design & Landing Pages
Before you do any internet marketing at all, you should have a well designed, conversion-ready website and/or landing page. There are a few essential design elements I strongly recommend to include here to build your brand, create trust as a reputable cooking class business, and illustrate the benefits of booking a session with you.
Here's a handy checklist of things to include on your homepage/landing page:
- Images or video that represent what to expect by attending the class for the first time
- Credibility stats: how many customers have you served, how long have you been in business, how many meals have you cooked? Showing big stats raise your credibility.
- Press or awards logos
- Ideas of how to user your service: corporate, date night, friends, girl's night, gay friendly
- List of upcoming classes and simple online booking
- Support contact details: phone, email, live chat
We hope this guide gives you some ideas of where to get started with ramping up your digital marketing efforts, even if you are a beginner. And if you're ready to move into the next phase of your growth, we'd love to have a conversation to show you how we can rapidly increase your website traffic, customers and revenue.
Just click here to get started!