AHDB Beef and Lamb has longbeen recognised as being at the forefront of butchery innovation, productdevelopment and technical knowledge transfer. Increasingly, however, theorganisation is establishing itself at the cutting edge of technology when itcomes to the communication and delivery of its knowledge and expertise. Here,Laura Ryan, AHDB Beef and Lamb marketing manager (Quality Schemes), discussesthe latest web-based developments being employed by AHDB Beef and Lamb. 

It’s important in today’s digital age for businesses to have an online presence. Any business that doesn't have a website is missing out on one of the most powerful marketing tools available to them. Whether you've got a product to sell or information to impart, a good website is critical to future success. 

Laura Ryan, AHDB Beef and Lamb marketing manager (Quality Schemes)
Much of the work done by myself and my colleagues in the AHDB Beef and Lamb trade marketing team focuses on knowledge transfer and ensuring the industry benefits from the vast amount of research, wealth of expertise and array of resources we have at our disposal.  

Just over a decade ago we set out to establish a website that would become the first port of call for trade information for the whole of the beef and lamb supply chain. 

The AHDB Beef and Lamb trade website, www.qsmbeefandlamb.co.uk, was launched, combining well-written and informative content with attractive design and presentation.

It’s important, however, to ensure that websites don’t stand still as it will soon become obvious to customers that an organisation has taken its eye off the ball. Businesses need to adapt and evolve their websites to keep up with the rapid pace of technology. 

At AHDB Beef and Lamb, we strive to keep abreast of the latest technology and digital applications to ensure our trade website remains relevant and contemporary and that our web-based activity continues to add a unique dimension to our communications programme. 
With those principles firmly in mind, we've introduced a host of new tools and resources in the last couple of years – including a number of industry-firsts. 

One of the most popular resources on the site is our collection of butchery demonstration videos, which were added two years ago. Designed to educate butchers and chefs on how to make more of the carcase and add significant value to beef and lamb cuts using seam cutting techniques, the videos are a valuable tool for anyone looking to diversify their beef and lamb offer. The videos are hosted on individual product pages, which include links to the appropriate pages in the Cutting Specification Manual and Meat Purchasing Guide. Furthermore, links to recipe ideas and cooking instructions – found elsewhere on the site – are provided for chefs to give them more inspiration in the kitchen.

A couple of years ago we gave visitors to the site the ability to find their local Quality Standard Mark Scheme suppliers, when we developed our sophisticated ‘Locate a QSM Supplier’ tool. Retailers and caterers simply key in their postcode and they are presented with contact details for all the QSM registered suppliers in their local area. 

Ever mindful of the latest trends and having seen an increase in the number of visits from mobile devices, we enhanced the site to be mobile responsive. We developed a modern platform which intuitively responds to visitors’ screen sizes and re-sizes itself to display perfectly, whether being viewed on a tablet, laptop or desktop.

Following extensive development work last year we rolled out a hugely useful and convenient marketing tool, in the form of our online Image Library. The resource was developed to give professionals working in the industry access to our extensive collection of high-quality beef and lamb-related images, which they can then use when promoting their businesses. The Image Library was further enhanced this year and now features our entire catalogue of raw beef and lamb photography – making it one of the most comprehensive online image libraries for meat in the world. 

One of the most exciting additions to the website is the recently launched Point-of-Sale Hub. This fantastic new marketing resource has been developed – using the latest software – with entrepreneurial retailers in mind. This will enable them to design and tailor their own professional quality posters and cabinet tickets. 

We are currently working on another major new development, one which makes good our commitment to provide knowledge transfer materials for the meat industry. Coming soon is the Meat Education Programme, a comprehensive package of both practical and theory modules covering beef and lamb. We are busy developing a fantastic online examination and certification system, which really will add value to the beef and lamb supply chain. I can’t say too much more now as it’s still in development but watch this space for an update on this unique innovation.   

And I would urge all businesses operating in the beef and lamb sectors to think the same way. Your website is your shop window, where people develop an impression of your business and ultimately it can deliver enhanced awareness and interest in your product range. 

This article first appeared in the May 2015 issue of Meat Management

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