Emerging brands are fueled by passion. If you’ve ever seen an episode of Shark Tank, you’ve likely felt the emotional pull entrepreneurs feel for their products. These folks put their own money, sweat, tears and time into an idea, product or service in hopes of making the world a better place.
But even after they’ve acquired outside funding, it’s a long, complex race for brand awareness, distribution and sales. Having worked with businesses of all sizes and ages, Switch understands that it takes a special kind of drive to achieve big results with limited budgets. Here are a few tips we picked up:
Local Precedes Global
When your brand is just starting out, you have to think logistically – and that means initially focusing on building awareness one market at a time, on a regional basis. With limited dollars, a homegrown methodology is the most cost-effective starting point. So hit the pavement. Get social on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. Identify your target audience and your greatest chance of access. A great first step for CPG brands is to focus on a smaller local grocery chain to get your product in people’s hands for trial. Have your best brand advocate available to sample the product in-store, making sure you have honed the brand and product story, perhaps even playing up local pride. Once you create a dialog with the consumer, capture any and all things the customer says about your product and encourage them to share their reactions.
Why start local? If you expand to national distribution too quickly, you might run out of product right away. That may seem like a good problem to have, but it can turn into a big negative quickly. Consumers can rally for you to build an army of loyal followers, but they don’t like to wait. They’re used to instant gratification. Rather than building demand, a weak distribution plan could tarnish your relationship with your target.
Retail Placement Is Paramount
Retail placement is cutthroat. Not only do you have to get in the store, but you also have to secure decent placement and be aware of stock. It’s not on retailers to stock product – it’s on you! That extra responsibility can be extremely time consuming, especially as the number of retail outlets grows. Sampling is a low-risk strategy to generate awareness, boost sales and create a positive consumer engagement with your brand. Plus if sampling in one location of a chain yields successful results, it can lead to access in other locations as well. Try to position your product apart from its competitors. If you can be in an unexpected department or in an impulse position – near the cash register, by the front of store, on high-traffic end caps – you’ll stand apart from more familiar brands that may otherwise steal your thunder.
Find Your Community
There is a network of emerging brands to fuel your momentum and illuminate opportunities for increased awareness. There’s a community for your consumer base as well, and it’s important to understand their habits, hobbies and passions. Where do they shop? How do they buy? Who are their influencers? Start there. Eventually you’ll grow to acquire help from a firm that specializes in supporting emerging brands. In addition to helping with distribution and cash flow, they will provide process and tracking tools that give you valuable data for increased growth.
Keep in mind that as your brand grows, so do the demands of you and your staff. If you’re already burning the midnight oil, juggling multiple roles and asking family members to work for free, you might be approaching a critical (but exciting) breaking point. Embrace the new stage of growth, and don’t be afraid to reach out for outside help if you need it.
Check out how we’ve helped our client barkTHINS optimize retail placement and create meaningful in-store engagement with its targeted consumer base!