Specialty Food Magazine

SUMMER 2015

Specialty Food Magazine is the leading publication for retailers, manufacturers and foodservice professionals in the specialty food trade. It provides news, trends and business-building insights that help readers keep their businesses competitive.

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PHOTOS: INDIVIDUAL PRODUCERS Michael Antonorsi Chuao Chocolatier Tom Knibbs Urban Accents Doug Renfro Renfro Foods to the consumer to spur sales are a must. I recommend creating a go-to demo that will be easy to execute in a variety of store environ- ments. Cross-promote all in-store activity on social media and use your content to try and gain support from the retailer's social audi- ence. Facebook advertising is the best bang for your buck for a small company, and you can use the segmenting features to reach your target audience. Saturate your local market before going national. Use Google Analytics to track your geographic hot spots and focus efforts there and where you have the biggest distribution. Managing all of these tactics won't guarantee success, but doing none of them will guarantee failure. As for perseverance, create a go-to-market plan and revisit it often. If one buyer doesn't bring in your product perhaps there is another department where it may work. Take each "no" as a learning experience to fine-tune your marketing message. Track performance of every "yes" to ensure sell-through. Make friends as well as busi- ness contacts. This is a cool business; enjoy the ride. I would love to attend every trade show and be able to do demos for all of our customers, but it's not financially or physically possible. When rank- ing the importance between demos and trade shows, where should we place more resources at this point? M.A.: We've been there, but the great thing we've learned about building a company with limited resources is that is requires focus. That focus can become the key to your success. We chose to focus our time and finances on a few trade shows that put us in front of key buyers, distributors, and press. We built a Two teaspoons of Olo's Chipotle Paste, which is packaged in a 4-ounce aluminum tube, can substitute for one chipotle pepper. The company initially sold the product online through Amazon. Sur La Table was one of Olo's first retail customers; today the products are carried by Whole Foods Markets, Albertsons, and many indepen- dent retailers. In 2014 Olo's started working with national distributors KeHe and UNFI, and sales have been ramping up. Olo's will be launching a new harissa paste in a tube this summer. Here, Lowe asks a panel of experienced producers about grow- ing her business. What are the challenges of selling specialty dry grocery products? T.K.: The challenges can be addressed with the 4+1 p's: product, price, placement, promotion (+1 is perseverance). The first hurdle is to have a product that people want to buy. What is your unique selling proposition: taste, ingredients, packag- ing, size, f lavors? Learn how to highlight those differences in your sales presentations succinctly. What will people pay for your product? How do your costs compare to other like products? Will that price provide enough profit for your company? Do you have enough gross margin in your pricing to support promotions? Learn how to properly build a price model that includes overhead, staffing, freight, promotions, and other marketing activity—but don't overprice your product, espe- cially for introductions. Placement: How do you get your product to the retailer and consumer? Where does your product belong in the retailer's store? Online sales for direct to consumers, selling direct to retailers, going through distributors for larger retailers? You can do all three, but it needs to be managed carefully. After you get the product, price, and placement established, perhaps the biggest challenge is figuring out ways to promote the product. Advertising and social media will help establish brand awareness. In-store demos and sampling will get the consumer to try the product. Price reductions that allow the retailer to offer "deals" THE PANEL "If one buyer doesn't bring in your product, perhaps there is another department where it may work. Take each 'no' as a learning experience to fne-tune your marketing message." SUMMER 2015 139

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