For many years now, I've been preaching that "content is king." As a business, brands have to understand that they have to create unique and authentic ways for their customers and fans to engage with them - in ways that don't always require a sale. By building these relationships with your customers, you create a stronger bond with your brand, which ultimately leads to sales.
Rarely do I find a brand that gets this as well as the folks at The Peach Truck in Nashville. An simple business in concept, The Peach Truck sells peaches at locations throughout Nashville and the Middle Tennessee area. I first discovered them last year and immediately fell in love with their branding. Their simple logo and clean website were my first loves. But it was their Instagram feed that made it official. They curate an incredible collection of unique and sourced images and share them in ways that always seem fun and conversational. Stephen and Jessica Rose, the owners of The Peach Truck understand how the short peach season dictates an active social media campaign.
They reached out to me earlier this spring to help them develop new recipes for this year's peach season. While they asked for only 15 recipes, I sat down and came up with a list of almost 30 in less than an hour. We met and narrowed down the list and then it was time to get to work!
So, here's how I did it:
- Think it out. When developing recipes, it all starts with an idea. That idea is generated based on the specific product, their culture and their customers. The Peach Truck is unique in that they have customers from all walks of society, so while they certainly needed some simple "semi-homemade" recipes, they could also utilize some more advanced culinary creations.
- Click appeal. With each recipe, I asked myself first if it was something needed. Would people make it? Did it sound delicious? Would it look delicious? How would it fit into their marketing efforts and would it be something that ultimately would drive web traffic and engagement? Take their recipe for Peach Salsa. Who has not seen a jar of peach salsa in a grocery store? What could this recipe do that would be unique and make someone want to make it? So, instead of a typical tomato-based salsa with fresh peaches, I opted to develop a recipe free of tomatoes and add crunchy jicama and cucumber instead. It would be colorful, fresh and unique.
- Write it down. Development starts on paper - or a computer. Peaches would not be in season until mid-May, yet I could not wait to start until then, as it would mean weeks of delay in getting completed recipes. So one by one, I sat down and started typing up what I thought the recipe would be. With a background as a professional chef, I'm lucky that I can imagine how flavors pair and how ingredients behave. But research at this point is key. By looking at other recipes, you can see what to do to make your recipe special. While there are many recipes out there for Ricotta Cheesecake, I realized that there was an opportunity to make a gluten-free version with a pecan crust.
- Test, test and test again. As soon as I had peaches in hand, I jumped right into testing the recipes. As I make each one, I write down specific notes about cook times, changes in measurements and observations (like watching a pot so it won't boil over). After it's made, it is time for taste tests. What does it need? Did it work? In this case, I was able to take the recipes directly to the client and taste them. We discussed presentations and tweaks and I was back to the kitchen to refine the recipes. In some cases, you must know when to start over. Sometimes you're lucky enough to get it right on the very first try. Every recipe is different.
- Props and pictures. With some clients, I'm able to shoot simple setups on a clean white or black drop, but I felt like this project needed more. Besides working their signature paper peach bag into the images, I thought what better way to insert The Peach Truck branding into their photos than to include the actual truck? We also selected linens, china and other elements that would further enhance the photos. It's important to have few surprises for a client. In this case, I had purchased some great vintage fruit baskets, only to find that they are the signature baskets of South Carolina peaches, and these peaches are from Georgia. Bye, baskets.
- Hand them over. After years of frustrations with hiring others, I choose to work very differently than most. Yes, while I do go through hundreds of photos to select the very best ones for editing, I also deliver every single raw image to the client. I also take many process images to include for social media. It's important to me that they are able to get longevity out of my work. Once a final invoice is paid, my client owns the images and recipes. They can use them however they want in print, online, social, etc. and need not ever give Food Sheriff credit.
While working on a project like this is incredibly fulfilling, I get even more enjoyment watching the recipes come to life as the client integrates them into their marketing strategy. The Peach Truck is doing this better than anyone I've ever seen. They started teasing that they were working on recipes by sharing some process shots. Instead of releasing all the recipes at once, they instead release 1-2 a week, creating anticipation and active engagement with their customers. Their publicist is using the images and recipe to pitch media and I'm hearing great comments about the results.
I've included a few photos below as examples. To view the recipes, you'll have to follow along with The Peach Truck as they release them.