As a new food business start-up, finding customers, selling your product or service to them, and satisfying those customers so they come back again and again should be your central focus of activity.
The more clarity you have about your ideal customer, the better your focus as well as marketing efforts will be.
Everyone is in the business of customer satisfaction. The most important activity any food business should engage in is to clearly identify the very best customers for your product or service and target to those particular people. Here are some things to think about to make the best impact where it really counts. Learn how to create your customer persona here.
Gauge Your Company's Brand Awareness Level
Do consumers know your brand exists? Social media has made this so much easier, giving you the instant ability to gauge awareness with online polls that you can use to get to know them and discover their level of brand awareness. It’s important that you remember to define your product or service from your customer’s point of view.
What problems does your product solve for your customer?
What needs does it meet for them?
How does it help improve their life?
And if you aren't sure if you social platforms are optimising your brand online, social media is a huge part of marketing in today’s world and if you’re not channeling its power for your benefit, you’re really missing out! Download our Social Media Checklist to find out!
Find Out If Consumers Prefer Your Products
But brand awareness is no longer enough in this competitive market if you want to get a big slice of the pie. You need to have brand champions which you can achieve through social media influencers.
One way to do this is to set up a blind taste test in a neutral location, letting consumers sample your product and that of your competition. Find out which brand they prefer, and most importantly, find out why. Is it the taste, the packaging, or what they believe you stand for?
You can host an Instameet for the launch of a new menu or food product and allow your social media influencers to get the launch to go viral.
Do you have a product positioning statement? If you sell ‘gluten free,’ only use local ingredients or give 10% of profits to your local charity of choice, your customers need to know. This can greatly contribute to an improved product perception that sweetens the pot and translates into more delicious results.
Find Out If Consumers Recognise Your Products
Packaging communicates your brand identity that gets the product flying off the shelf.
Does it stand out?
Does it represent what it should?
And is it functional?
Today’s consumers don’t like wasteful or confusing packaging so keep that in mind with your design.
Assess Your Products' Perceived Value
How does your customer go about making a buying decision for your product? Value perceptions come in all shapes and sizes. Value is a function of quality, price, and quantity.
Don't forget to tell customers that your product has a superior refining process, makes less of a carbon footprint, or a larger, fuller container than your competitor's.
Find Out Where You Are in the Product Life Cycle
Determine exactly when your ideal customer buys your product or service. Are you developing a new product launch, a relaunch, a seasoned product, or are you the one brand trusted for generations? You can position each one of these as a positive brand advantage.
Maximize Your Best Distribution Channels
If you're selling a single-serve, on-the-go, youth-oriented product, then you don't want to overlook convenience stores. Conversely, if your product lends itself to bulk sales, be sure to approach warehouse club stores.
Remember, given e-retailing, traditional supermarkets now account for less than half of all food product sales, but this can expand your market potential if you do your prep work right.
Define Your Strategy to Grow Market Share and Collaborate
Even the most dominant players in the market don’t below to just one single product category. There is always room to grow however, the size of the pie is finite. The only way to get more of the pie is to take it away from someone else.
You can do it through line extensions and add more products, by expanding into more sales channels, or you can grow your market share by joint-venturing with a compatible, non-competitive player. This enables you to grow your volume. For example, if you sell peanut butter, work out a joint promotion with a maker of jellies and jams.
Determine if You Have Brand Awareness and Brand Preference with Retailers
Do you have your product pitch down to a fine art? Developing a winning retail sales pitch is key because retailers are the gatekeepers to the shelf. You can join your retailer's or wholesaler's trade associations and serve on committees, attend or exhibit at the trade shows, refer other food entrepreneurs to the retailer, and author guest columns for the trade press to cement a better foothold in this arena.
Think About What You Have Committed to Long-Term Brand Building
It's easy to fall into the trap of just promoting the deal of the week. In the end, it keeps you on the shelves but it doesn't build your brand. Consumers are fickle and will switch brands to get the sale price and then switch back. To build loyalty, you need to continuously advertise and promote your brand's attributes, both the physical ones and the intangible ones.
Engaging in cause-related marketing helps this effort. Consumers will always support the brand they believe supports their ideals, their lifestyle, and their values. Demonstrate that you truly care and customers will continue to purchase from you and recommend your brand.
Do All of the Above
Simply put, if you're not asking the right questions, how can you find the right answers? Market Research is key! Food and beverage businesses need to conduct at least some informal market research with the most important people in their world…their customers.
Food manufacturers can learn from their customers because people love to give their opinions. Social media makes it easy to ask about your package design, price points, promotions, your products' taste, ad campaigns and everything else before you go to market.
Save yourself a lot of expense and anxiety by learning about consumer preferences before you embark on that costly new packaging, point-of-purchase display, and ad campaign.
You don’t need a marketing degree to make an expert marketing plan like a kitchen boss!
We’ve got you covered with our handy FREE Marketing Plan Checklist designed for food products.
Do you still have questions about how to be the tastiest option on the market? Let The Dirty Apron & Co. help you make all the right moves. Just tug on our apron strings!
If you have any questions, make sure to ask inside my Facebook group, Bite-sized Marketing Morsels with The Dirty Apron & Co. This is one of my favourite places to hang out! On this sounding board, I get personal and raw while introducing you to other food industry movers-and-shakers, bringing mini-trainings right to your feed for delicious results.
Just like Ubereats, we'll deliver fresh and tasty marketing tips direct to your inbox with a tap of a button. We promise that not only will they be tasty they will bite-sized so you can have a quick scroll whilst ordering your first coffee of the day or settling in for the night. Simply click on the subscribe button and I'll make sure you're on the list!
OWNER - THE DIRTY APRON & CO.
The Dirty Apron & Co. is a one-stop shop that turns delicious dreams into reality. Rachel and her team are specialists in food marketing for retail or wholesale food businesses, cafes, restaurants and caterers.
They are passionate about all
things food, and have the know- how, experience and industry contacts to help new food businesses get started.