Many food industry veterans have said ‘It’s easy to get on the shelf. The hard part is getting off the shelf.”
Well, that’s certainly true. What the means is that it’s easy to get new store accounts and some shel=f space. While a small victory, the challenge is just beginning.
Now, how do you get people to buy your products?
The short answer is that it’s a complex mix of luck and marketing. But, to expand, I’ll dive into a couple of ways you might not have thought of, now that we’re all kind of digital natives these days.
Before I get into the list, let’s address store demos. I’ve written about them here and here. They’re powerful. As all of you can confirm, once people actually taste your product, (hopefully) they’re sold and they buy your product. But, the challenge with store demos is they only last a couple hours. That customer who tried or bought your product may never remember you.
That’s why you need to stay engaged with your customers.
Sure, you could do a demo again, but you’re only 1 (maybe 2) people. Demos wear on you. Plus, you’re only reaching a handful of people during those few hours.
Enter digital marketing.
It’s the gorilla of the 21st century. You can reach anyone you want. And there are some great strategies to apply to your food business. Below, I’ll explore three of them, but know that the possibilities are endless. And if you’re no digital marketing pro, you may want to explore hiring a freelancer or very small advertising agency to help you launch your online marketing campaign.
Strategy #1: Use Facebook and Instagram to Target 5 Miles Around New Retailers
Facebook advertising is written about all over the internet. There are hundreds of tutorials, but I’ll try my best to keep it simple for you. You can use the Facebook Advertising suite to target customers who live or work within a 5-mile radius of the new retailer you just landed. These are likely the folks who shop here, right? I mean, you don’t typically drive more than 5 miles to get to the grocery store.
This strategy gets more effective when you target further. For example, you can target people by income, occupation, education, and interests (like cooking, baking, and entertaining). Here’s a video showing an overview of Facebook advertising.
Note that since Facebook owns Instagram, you can us Facebook to advertise on both platforms.
What content should you advertise?
My first recommendation is video. This could be you standing in-front of the store or sitting at your desk. Let customers know you can pick up the product there, what products are there, the price, and what you can do with your products. A quick 30-60 second video filmed on your smartphone or webcam will work just great.
If you’re not into video, a simple text post supported by a beautiful product photo will be fine. But keep in mind that Facebook is prioritizing video in news feeds today.
Strategy #2: Use Display Advertising to Retarget Visitors to Your Website
Retargeting is the process of getting back in-front of people who have visited your website or searched a specific list of keywords on search engines. The content you retarget is called display advertising. It’s where you create 8-10 ad ad sizes (or, you hire a freelancer) and then “follow” this people around the web with an enticing offer like a coupon for your online store or promoting a retailer that’s near the website visitor. A great tool I just found is called SteelHouse. It’s an online display ad software that helps you create and show your display ads across the web. I haven’t tried it out yet, but it looks promising.
Strategy #3: Local Pay-Per-Click Advertising for People Who Search for Your Product Category
This is an oldie, but a goodie. You know those ads at the top of Google that show up in the yellow box above the organic search results? That is pay-per-click advertising. This is where companies pay to show up in search for their specific keywords. And they only pay when customers click on their ad.
Here’s an example: Let’s say you make brownies. You could run text ads that display on Google for people search for brownies, brownie gift, Valentine’s Day gift, etc. Similar with Facebook’s location targeting, you can have your ads show up locally. That saves you from burning through money.
Keep in mind that not everyone who clicks on your advertising link is going to buy. That means you may pay $7-$10, maybe $20 before someone buys. That really means, you should be promoting higher ticket items like gift packs or variety packs.
Let’s talk budget now.
I know you’re probably thinking “Michael, all of this costs money!” Yes, it does cost money. But, you can’t sit at your desk and hope that your product is going to move off the shelf.
Digital advertising not only gets your product and brand in-front of potential (and loyal) customers, but it also could get your products in front of retail buyers, key press folks, or heck, even onto Oprah’s favorite things. (Isn’t that everyone’s dream?)
What should your budget your budget be?
Well, that’s ultimately up to you. Start with $50-$100 a month and one of the strategies above. Do all three strategies and you’ll pull your hair out! Dip your toes and see what happens. If it works well for you, keep doing it. If it doesn’t, think about different ways you can use content to promote your company and it’s new retailers.
Growing your business using the internet means strategies and best practices keep evolving. There are new platforms and new ways to find the right customers. But, this is the future of marketing. Good luck with using the web to grow your business.
Have any questions? Feel free to comment below!