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food entrepreneurs

7 Marketing Tips for Food Entrepreneurs

Everyone loves your salsa. Or smoothie. Or the trail mix energy bars you painstakingly craft in your kitchen every Sunday. From these humble beginnings, many great brands started out: First peddled at farmers’ markets and then reaching Clif Bar status. That’s the dream. But how do you market your new food brand to get it to the next level? Here are a few tips to help you make the leap.

  1. Look for a void in the market (or create one). Kefir? Probiotics? Coconut water? We view these as hot trends and categories today but someone initially noticed what was missing in the market, convinced consumers it needed to be filled and then filled it.
  2. Market your differences. What makes your product different from competitors? What makes it special? Figure it out, because that’s key to your marketing strategy.
  3. Design matters. The battle for shelf space is cutthroat so you have to stand out from the crowd. Invest up front in good package design and you won’t have to rework it in six months to keep your products from languishing on the shelf.
  4. Be creative. Consumers are bombarded with messages all day every day. If your advertising looks like everything else in your category, you’ll be lost in a sea of sameness.
  5. Free samples! Anyone who has pushed a cart through a Costco knows that sampling can be a great way of introducing new food products to potentially taste-wary consumers. And studies show that in-store sampling can lift sales by nearly 500% the day of the sampling. It doesn’t have to be at Costco either. Hit local events like concerts and build your buzz at the grassroots level.
  6. Market to your target audience. Pinpointing your target audience and then marketing to them where they spend their time can help you make the most of a small budget. Social media, targeted online banners and channels like Pandora, Spotify and others can help you narrowcast your message to the people you want to reach.
  7. Listen to your customers. If they’re telling you they love your smoothies but what about the overpowering garlic in your “Garlicky Goodness” line? It’s impossible to enjoy within a 30-mile radius of friends and co-workers, so re-think the formula. Or market it as the drink of choice for hermits and lighthouse keepers.