I don’t care if you’re selling quinoa, carrots or noodles. If you’re responsible for marketing a food and beverage or snack product then you’re looking for what works – how to just get your product out there in stores.
In this post I’ll talk about three classic methods of marketing/sales, that work. And don’t require waiting to be found online…
Don’t worry, I love all that cool digital stuff too! (How do you think you found this post?!)
And I talk elsewhere about how to get found on the web – ‘in-bound’ methods. Like Search Engine Optimization, Social Media, Content Marketing and Public Relations. But, as I’m sure you’re aware, there’s gazillions of pages in internet land about all of that. Some of which you’ve probably waded through…
So, I’m going to start here with the very basics of bringing your food product to market, which are still very valid.
1/ Just Reach Out
If we’re talking about food products, the first step is to decide which store or store chain you want to approach. Then get the name of the buyer for that store, or chain. Either through visiting the store and asking the store manager, or by visiting the store’s website. There’ll usually be a staff directory or at least a general phone number to call. Ask for the buyer, for your category. And keep trying – these folks are busy.
2/ Exhibit at a Trade Show
There are many local, regional and national trade shows that are organized by trade associations, or for-profit businesses, where food buyers go to look for new products. Trade shows provide efficiency to buyers; they can see many product offerings over a day or two. And sellers can meet many potential buyers at the same time. So, trade shows offer real efficiencies for both sellers and buyers.
You can find trade associations and tradeshows by searching online. Here’s a post I wrote about the top 5 food trade shows that take place every year.
For a complete guide to industry trade associations (which often organize trade shows), use Columbia Books’ National Trade and Professional Associations Directory. You’ll need to subscribe or go to a business reference library, like the New York Science, Industry and Business Library.
3/ Hire a Food Broker
Food brokers are independent sales agents that you hire, for a % of sales (although this kind of depends on how new the product is, and if you have sales already). The advantage of working with a broker, is that they already sell products to the stores in your area (they usually cover a region). And if you find the right one, they will already have a relationship with the buyers for the stores you’re targeting. Buyers like to work with brokers because it saves them time; they can only talk to so many people in a day. So, brokers, who bring them many different products make these seller/buyer conversations more productive for everyone involved.
To find the right broker, search online or use Grey House Publishing’s Food & Beverage Marketplace, which has a complete national listing of brokers for every food category.
You’ll need to subscribe or go to a business reference library, like, as mentioned above – the New York Science, Industry and Business Library.
So, really, that’s it. The advantage of these 3 back-to-basics methods, are that if you do these, you’ll have some actual conversations with real people. Who’ll be able to give you some solid feedback on your product and category. Some of which you might not like to hear, but… if you’re serious about going to market, you need to know what the market knows.
Oh, and call us if you’d like help with any of this – we’ve been there!