Promotion is a vital element of getting your product to market and making your business a success.
But where do you start?
Marketing consultants often discuss promotion as one of the core elements of ‘the marketing mix’ – the set of decisions you need to take in order for your product to successfully get purchased and fulfil a specific customer need.
The marketing mix is usually summarised as the 4Ps – product, price, place and promotion.
You need to offer the right product, at the right price, to a customer in the right place (and time) and convince them to buy through effective promotion.
You want them to go away happy with their decision too. Ideally, so happy that they tell their friends all about you.
In this article we take a look at what, why and how a good promotion can help a food and beverage manufacturing company looking to stand out in a competitive marketplace.
Reasons for promoting your food and beverage business?
Food is the ultimate consumable product and the industry will always provide plenty of opportunities for manufacturers with the ability to adapt to changing market conditions and promote their goods effectively.
Good promotion can help you seize these opportunities and make every part of your business better:
- The income that it generates can be used to solve supply chain, staffing or resourcing issues,
- It demonstrates your success which can attract new opportunities, both up- and downstream,
- It leads directly to customer engagement so you can collect feedback and improve, and
- It helps you position your company in the market for the longer term.
Ultimately, promotion leads to sales and, as summarised by a famous quote variously attributed to Peter Drucker, Thomas Watson, and Arthur Motley:
“Nothing happens until someone sells something.”
So how do you start making something happen? Where should your promotional journey begin?
Let’s start in the real world.
Offline promotion strategies for your food business
Food products are experienced through all of the senses; we like to view, touch and smell food as well as taste it.
And while we don’t actually listen to most foods, the sizzling of ingredients on a barbecue or the relaxing background music playing in the restaurant or café definitely add to the experience.
Try to remember all of these factors when promoting your products in the real world. Whatever it is that makes your product memorable needs to be highlighted whenever possible.
Here are some of the methods you could use:
Find opportunities for people to try your best products for free. You could offer coupons online or in print that people can exchange (in person or by post) for a sample, or use this approach to collect email addresses or phone numbers of interested customers who you can market to in the future.
Markets, festivals and other events are great places to promote your brand. Be selective and choose those events that best align with your company’s values and are most likely to be attended by your target market.
Word of mouth
Arguably the most effective form of promotion – a recommendation from someone we trust often beats every other strategy. Find ways of facilitating this; from a simple personal ask “if you liked it, please tell your friends?” to friends and family discount vouchers that customers can hand out.
Promotional Brochures, flyers and adverts
For the more creative marketing side of things, there are plenty of approaches you could take to promote your business offline. Printed materials or adverts in magazines and newspapers could help build your brand locally.
Presenting yourself as a trusted supplier
Your business’ success will rely on the quality of your product and your ability to promote it effectively.
But when it comes to building business with potential distributors, venues and food companies, this promotion needs to be approached in the right way.
For example, although it is the taste, smell and texture of your food that will first draw in a café owner at a local market, they need to know more about your business than how good the products are.
Prepare some information or materials, on- or offline, that share details of the other aspects of your business that can make you a good supplier to other food companies. This could include information such as:
- Hygiene standards and licenses,
- Raw materials/ingredient sourcing,
- Production/manufacturing processes,
- Company heritage and experience,
- Logistics and supply chain information – explain how you could reliably supply the company,
- Packaging and re-selling details – could your partner businesses personalise or use your product?
- Any custom production capabilities to develop new products for clients, and
- How you can keep them informed about new product releases they may be interested in.
In all of this, ensure that you emphasise those elements that you think your target market will most value (and that are true of course!)
Talk about your local supply chain, ethical and sustainability credentials, you heritage in the community, the innovative production techniques you employ etc.
How to promote food business online
On the modern web food and beverage manufacturers are able to use a wide range of channels to share their story.
Social media, SEO, content marketing, online PR, advertising . . . the list goes on!
As a business owner your time is limited and the experience and skills that exist in your team (as good as they may be) will only go so far when it comes to online promotion.
Only select the techniques, processes and platforms that you are able to really dedicate proper time and effort to and that you think will work based on your sector. And you could always find experts willing to help with this.
Promoting food and beverage products online is very visual, so ensure you have a good source of images to hand.
It is also important to stay consistent in your terminology when referring to your products, company and target market. That is what helps SEO value and builds the overall, seamless context of your marketing.
Align your on- and offline promotion strategies
In order to give potential customers a really memorable experience of your brand, you need to use on- and offline approaches that support each other.
This is both a practical challenge and one that requires consistent brand identity and messaging.
For example, you can align on- and offline promotion by offering a downloadable coupon on social media that customers can take along to a food market for a discount.
But if the product names, company logo and visual styles are different on the social media account compared to the food stall, this will cause confusion and may limit sales.
Aligning both identities and experiences reinforces your brand in the customer’s memory, which is so important for word of mouth and to influence future buying behaviour.
Online and offline strategies should also learn from each other – for example:
- If in-person customers keep asking the same questions or using certain terminology to refer to your products – that is the sort of information you start sharing online.
- Online personal referral programs often give benefits to both the person sharing the offer and their friend who capitalises on it (think of Dropbox or certain bank accounts that give a bonus to both people) – take this strategy offline with a flyer that would give someone a shared discount if they bring a friend along.
- Use in-person opportunities to create online content. Selfies at market stalls, vox-pop videos at festivals and pictures taken at any stage of manufacturing and sales all make excellent pieces of content to share online and promote your brand.
A business will only go so far on the strength of its products alone – sooner or later it is how well they are promoted that counts too.
The key with promotion and marketing is not to get overwhelmed with the different possible avenues that are available.
Focus on what matters most to your ideal customers, make that a core part of your messaging, and find out the best one or two methods you could use to get in touch with them to tell your story.
This is a great foundation to build on in order to make your food business a success.