By Djenaba Johnson-Jones
Marketing your food startup is as important as having a great tasting product. And now, getting the word out about your business has become easier than ever before! Use these five essential marketing tools to get you started:
1. Create a Compelling Business Name: Your food business name is your customer’s first impression of your brand. You can name your business after the founder, use the literal product description or make up a word that’s all your own. Just be sure to make it memorable. When artisanal banana pudding company owners, Lloyd and Trisha, first started dating, they called each other "Bao,” which means “to be full in the stomach and in the heart” in Mandarin. So when coming up with a name for their food business, they decided to combine it with the word bananas to create #Baonanas.
2. Establish Your Brand Identity: Your brand identity is a visual representation of your company and consists of your logo, tagline, specific fonts, colors, design and other graphic elements. Consider working with a graphic designer to bring your vision alive. Joanne Hixson, owner and co-founder of New Jersey-based firm Fusion Creative, offers these tips for working with a designer:
Clearly articulate your goals and brand positioning.
Reference logos, typefaces and color palettes from competitive brands.
Pull together an inspiration board of images related to your brand attributes and positioning.
Provide examples of designs that you like AND don’t like.
3. Build a Simple Website: Create a simple website that reflects your brand identity and brand story, and includes your product images and description(s). It should also include product locations and a way to contact you. Website tools like Squarespace and Wix offer businesses the opportunity to create beautiful websites using readymade templates that are as easy to use as posting on Facebook. Wix even offers use of their image library.
4. Have a Social Media Strategy: Determine which social media platform is appropriate for your business.The most popular for food businesses are Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest, especially when you post with beautiful images. However, you don’t have to be everywhere. Choose the one or two platforms that are right for you and update them regularly. Ideally, your social handles should be uniform across all platforms (and your website) so that it will be easy for your customers to find you.
Family-owned food business Outer Limits Hot Sauce has mastered how to effectively promote their brand on social media. The all-natural condiment company is active on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest. And they use the different platforms to provide their customers with information on how to use their product (including recipe ideas), announce locations to purchase and showcase their collaborations with other food businesses.
5. Develop Promotional Materials: Professional business cards and postcards are perfect for face-to- face interactions with potential customers. You can create both on the cheap with Vistaprint. And just in case you need a little help, they even offer design services with a quick turnaround.
Remember: Your design should be consistent with your overall brand identity. And don’t forget to include your contact information (website, phone number or email address) and your social media handles.