Marketing investments can make a difference…
At the very beginning, the Genesis moment if you will, entrepreneurs nearly always are translating a personal belief and passion into something new and potentially exciting in the food and beverage marketplace.
- EPIC – meat-based, hand held protein bars.
- Bare Bones Broth Company – culinary quality bone broth.
- Suja – cold-pressed nutrient dense juices.
- GIVN – premium bottled water your conscience will feel good about.
- EVOL – higher quality sustainably sourced frozen meals.
And (justifiably) so, these companies invest an incredible amount of energy and effort in bringing the product to life: sourcing suppliers, makers, packaging, distribution and scouring for retail customers who will take a chance on you.
Their goals are often to improve the health and wellbeing of people, raise the bar on quality and change (improve) the food system in the process. There’s a worthwhile and worthy pursuit. Heartfelt. Making the world a better place. Giving back. Elevating the game. Disrupting categories. Creating new ones. Thus, a vision in motion.
In the beginning with some exceptions, company resources are limited, and every dollar counts. Prioritization sets in and the first consideration is getting the quality and the mission embedded into the product. Like anything initially lacking scale, the ingredient, production and distribution costs will invariably be higher.
We also know there’s ample evidence of high failure rate on new product introductions and businesses that either gain some initial traction and flame out or never quite scale and live on in under-achieving anonymity in limited distribution.
Despite this truth, we find marketing at times takes a back seat, or no seat on this go-to-market bus. The general view might be, “if you build it (exceptionally well), they will come.” Or the more specific, “great products always find a market.” It’s naturally alluring, right, because it’s just so much better than the status quo…plus the deeper belief or mission system adds value. All true, but…
X-Factor: Marketing and the human being
Human beings are remarkable creatures. People are not analytical decision-making machines, and for the most part operate on emotional cues. We call this “heart over head.” Consumers are bombarded and buried in marketplace noise. Our multi-tasking, multi-channeled digital and distracted lives require some respected credible guidance and filtering in order to get our brains around what to pay attention to – and what matters.
Strong marketing firms are keepers of consumer insight.
Great marketing vs. just serviceable will always involve more than just a toolbox of outreach tools.
Communications tactics without strategy and embedded consumer insight is like shouting your story from a mountaintop where the only real recipients are big horned sheep.
A strong marketing partner will offer brands the following:
- Insight into consumer behaviors, motivations, passions, concerns and needs that inform everything from packaging to web site to outbound and inbound marketing content.
- Knowledge and expertise in branding, brand positioning – and mapping the strategic story you’re about to tell in an environment where gaining attention is more difficult than ever, despite the ready availability of social, digital channels.
- Seasoned experience in navigating the dynamics of the buyer environment, retailer needs and how best to package an intangible – which can be a significant hill to climb for a newcomer selling assertions of future success.
- Informed design and messaging for web, sales and trade communications assets that removes the guesswork in how the concept is presented to both business and consumer audiences.
- Contacts and relationships in the industry and with influencers who can help break down barriers and resistance to distribution hurdles, equity investment interest and consumer engagement.
- An informed sounding board for product development ideas, formulation moves, packaging adjustments and early innovation bets.
The beneficial outcomes:
- Better results, minimizing misfires and speed to gaining account placement.
- Removing risk in how to best package and present the brand story.
- Generating media visibility at a time when steady, ongoing awareness is hard to come by after the first salvo of newcomer attention.
A great partner understands the grist of what you are trying to do right down to the atoms and electrons level. When every dollar is precious, is there added value in making marketing investments early?
Even if engagement is limited to strategic planning at the onset, there’s more to be gained in getting it right the first time; it will help accelerate the trajectory of business development.
In short, better to put marketing in the plan and on the priority list upfront rather than see it as a downstream consequence of ‘required support’ once the business is percolating.
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Bob Wheatley is the CEO of Chicago-based Emergent, the healthy living agency. Emergent provides integrated brand strategy, communications and insight solutions to national food, beverage, home and lifestyle companies. Emergent’s unique and proprietary transformation and growth focus helps organizations navigate, engage and leverage consumers’ desire for higher quality, healthier product or service experiences that mirror their desire for higher quality lifestyles. For more information, contact Bob@Emergent-Comm.com and follow on Twitter @BobWheatley.