Imagine, you have a heavenly food product that you just can’t wait to get in front of the public. You’ve put hours of effort into perfecting the recipe, perfecting the packaging and getting ready for growth. Is that you?
Starting & growing a food production business from scratch is no mean feat. That’s why we’ve created these marketing tips.
This article gives you important tips when starting and growing a food business.
It’s written to help you, the new food or drink business owner, overcome some of the biggest challenges during both infancy and growth to create a business that, even if starting locally, will help you scale nationally and eventually globally.
We also share links to excellent sources of information to help you succeed in your quest for business growth.
So, let’s begin by sharing our thoughts on need-to-know insights when starting a food business and setting out to sell your products.
1. Gather real customer feedback
With all the competition out there today, it goes without saying. Your food products must taste the very best if you’re to increase sales and keep your customers.
Getting real customer feedback on your produce is vital to improving your recipes. It will massively increase your chances of success.
Apart from making sure you have the perfect product in the perfect packaging, Getting your mindset ready for running your food business is crucial.
2. Train your mind for building a successful food business
Your own mindset is likely to be, by far, the most influential part of your success as you scale and grow.
Here’s how to prepare your mentality for the long, windy and exciting road ahead.
This is a marathon not a sprint. Albeit potentially the most exciting and rewarding marathon you will ever run.
There’s no doubt that if you’re just setting up, you’re looking for some quick sales. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
However, it’s easy to make rash decisions when you just want sales.
So, making decisions that simply feel right and that will bring long-term success is how you can create a more sustainable business.
Think about this as a 10-year journey – and stick to it, even throughout the roughest of times.
There’s a reason for the saying ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’. Remember that saying every time you think of trying something new. Especially when it has nothing to do with your current business.
3. Focus on continuous improvement – Plan, Do, Check, Act
As you attempt to scale nationally and sell to larger retailers or foodservice brands your margins may get squeezed.
In manufacturing, there are methodical ways for identifying opportunities to streamline work and reduce waste. Thereby maximising profit margins.
It’s called continuous improvement.
It doesn’t matter if you’re maturing cheese at home or running a huge factory that produces thousands of cheese truckles per day.
Continuously improving your operations will be a huge aid to managing the transition.
There are lots of continuous improvement methodologies – Six Sigma, Lean, Total Quality Management to name just a few.
Try to be clear about the continuous improvement methodology you will use within your own business.
One of our favourite methodologies is known as Plan, Do, Check, Act. You can read more about this methodology right here.
4. Excel at selling & negotiating
The number one rule in setting up a food business is knowing what you sell. For every feature, there should be a related benefit received by your customers.
Here’s a prime example:
You might think you’re selling chocolate. But really, you’re selling a comforting snack that can be indulged whenever one feels down or needs some me-time.
Are you selling a 30g bar? Or are you selling a morning/afternoon snack that will keep you going till your next mealtime, while keeping the pounds off your customer’s weight.
Try to map out all the features of your product and match it to a benefit. Then use it to describe your product when selling to your target markets
5. Master your sales channels
In food, your route to market can vary. The distribution channels can also be quite complex. this means you have more than just the consumer to think about.
Negotiating with a retailer is very different to negotiating with a distributor, which in turn is different to negotiating with a Foodservice Operator such as a restaurant.
We’ve seen many food businesses who focus the first 12 months on targeting a very specific channel, such as restaurants.
While pushing your products wholesale, increase your direct-to-consumer sales via your website. Doing so will boost your margins and over time D2C will become a very important aspect of your business.
6. Research products and food trends
Doing product research will give you great insights into the types of people who are likely to buy your products. It will also help you understand changes in trends and preferences.
But going even deeper will help you to understand exactly how to target those people in your marketing plan.
Here are a few questions you could ask about your consumer market:
- What age are they?
- What hobbies do they have?
- How much time do they spend on social media?
- What magazines do they read
- What is their income?
- What do they value?
- What similar food products do they consume e.g. do they love Aritsan goods?
- What drives them to buy the type of food you are offering? Is it convenience? Is it health? Is it purely taste?
7. Build trusted relationships in the Food industry
Finally, the day comes. You have a huge order request from a large brand. Maybe they want to ship your products globally.
You’re excited, enthusiastic & eager to fulfil. It’s the whole reason you started the business in the first place.
But there’s a problem – you can’t produce enough in time to fulfil the order. Don’t worry though.
In the early days of your business, spend time seeking out potential suppliers. You will build some fantastic relationships with people who will happily help you out when you most need it.
Suppliers don’t need to be in your home country either. You might find a great production company abroad. They might even be half the price, per unit produced, in comparison to your own country (e.g. the United Kingdom).
Don’t be afraid to put yourself out in the industry.
Exhibiting at shows is a great marketing tool (discussed below).
But if you’re not exhibiting, still head down to see what’s going on. Get involved and keep your eyes peeled for companies that fit nicely with your potential future needs.