Marketing is essential for any business to grow. But most food and farm entrepreneurs already know that. They realize that no matter how high-quality, unique, or delicious their product is, it won’t generate sales if nobody knows about it.
So for most food and ag businesses, the question isn’t whether to invest time, energy, and money into marketing. The real question is how to do so affordably and effectively.
As a digital marketing and e-commerce consulting firm, Taste Profit helps sustainable farms and food businesses navigate these questions and develop winning marketing strategies. And that’s exactly why we invited founder Noah Munro, MBA, to join us for a recent Edible-Alpha® podcast. He divulges a wealth of actionable insights and key tenets of effective marketing—including a few that food and ag entrepreneurs might find surprising.
1. Marketing’s main job is NOT to grow sales.
This probably sounds weird to most business owners, but it’s true. “Obviously, yes, growing sales is the long-term goal,” Noah says. “But if you think about marketing only from the perspective of ‘will this grow sales immediately?’ then you’re thinking too short-term and missing the point.”
Instead, food and farm entrepreneurs should consider the buyer’s journey. “Remember, people will only buy from you if they know and trust you, so first you need to take them through the journey of knowing about you, then liking you, then trusting you,” Noah says. Therefore, marketing’s number-one job isn’t nabbing sales—it’s building awareness of your brand and “getting people to move through a funnel of being strangers to friends to customers.”
2. Isolated marketing tactics risk being a waste of money
Knowing they should start marketing, many food and farm businesses will run a random Facebook ad or post a one-off blog in an attempt to drive traffic. Though there is nothing inherently wrong with these tactics, they’re commonly done in isolation versus in the context of a broader marketing strategy. That, Noah says, is often a big mistake.
Taste Profit’s mantra is to start with strategy. This involves identifying a target audience, knowing how to reach them, knowing what you’re trying to achieve, and much more—and it all needs to jive with the overall business strategy. Because without a comprehensive marketing strategy, it’s pretty hard to know whether any individual tactic is effective or a big waste of money.
3. Real growth requires more money than you may think.
Every food or farm business is unique, so the appropriate amount to allocate toward marketing will vary. However, it’s oftentimes a bigger chunk of change than entrepreneurs expect.
For instance, as Noah learned from his Food Finance Institute consultant training and has seen play out with his clients, CPG brands that sell into retail and really want to grow should budget a whopping 25% of sales to marketing. For e-commerce businesses, the rule of thumb is 10%
“These numbers are way bigger than many food and farm entrepreneurs think they should spend,” Noah says, adding that these percentages will probably make a business unprofitable for the first year or two. However, when growth is the goal, building awareness and generating a loyal customer base are usually more important and well worth the spend.
Having scaled his own food business, Noah Munro knew that many growing food and farm businesses struggle with marketing, leading him to found a digital marketing consulting firm. Through its impactful SPEMA framework—Strategy, Planning, Execution, Measurement, and Adjustment—Taste Profit guides entrepreneurs in formulating and executing effective marketing strategies. He shares a bunch of salient tips, tactics, and guideposts to get listeners on the right track with marketing, so definitely tune in—and take notes!
And now, our roundup of the best food and beverage finance news, events and resources from around the web…
Business Model Insights
- How a solid personal mission can keep your business afloat in 2022 (New Hope Network)
- Go above and beyond corporate mission statements to uncover what makes the daily grind worth the adversity.
- 3 simple climate questions for your board going into 2022 (GreenBiz)
- How a vertically integrated orchard and cider house became a regional centerpiece (Organic Grower)
- Why food companies should rethink the financial benefits of ESG (Food Dive)
- By disclosing risks in a transparent manner, firms that leverage ESG gain the trust and loyalty of customers, employees and investors who only want to invest time and money in alignment with their values.
- What factors determine a company’s value? (New Hope Network)
- Taking climate justice seriously in the blue economy (GreenBiz)
- For food CPGs and grocers, finding harmony online is a difficult dance (Food Dive)
- Product manufacturers face a sometimes-daunting array of requirements when seeking to sell products through e-commerce channels run by retailers.
- ‘If you’re using paper, but you’re putting a plastic liner in it, you haven’t really solved anything…’ Footprint talks sustainable packaging (FoodNavigator-USA)
- Why are so many class action lawsuits filed against the food industry? (Food Dive)
- How Will Americans Eat in 2022? The Food Forecasters Speak (The New York Times) “They see a new interest in mushrooms, a rethinking of chicken and coffee, a resurgence of 1980s cocktails—and believe it or not, a return to civility.”
- Annual 2021 US Online Grocery Sales Total Nearly $98 Billion (Brick Meets Click)
- Wellness, Nostalgia, Innovation and New Views of Sustainability Are Among the Food Trends for 2022 (Food Insight)
Farming and AgTech
- On Minnesota farms, winter doesn’t always mean less work (Star Tribune)
- For many farmers, the workflow may slow in winter, but the demands of running a small business seldom ease.
- Record Beef Prices, but Ranchers Aren’t Cashing In (The New York Times)
- Killing time for cover crops? Late-planted rye won’t delay crimping (Organic Grower)
- Can Companies Force Themselves to Do Good? (The New Yorker)
- A new kind of corporate structure, the perpetual-purpose trust, enables mission-driven founders to exit their companies with a guarantee that the businesses’ values will last.
- Hain Celestial seeks acquisitions to become a ‘bigger fish’ in snacks, dairy & meat alternatives (FoodNavigator-USA)
- Minority investments in smaller brands will characterize M&A in food in 2022 (FoodNavigator-USA)
- Food Finance Institute January 2022 Trends Talk: 1/24
- Edible-Alpha® Learning Center MVP Series Workshop: Sales & Distribution Planning: 2/3
- Organic Vegetable Production Conference: 2/3–2/8
- Savanna Institute Perennial Farm Gathering: 2/4
- Organic Seed Growers Conference: 2/4–2/11
- Illinois Specialty Crop Conference & Trade Show: 2/5–2/7
- Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Conference: 2/12
- Edible-Alpha® MVP Series Workshop: Marketing & Branding Planning: 3/17
- PLMA Global: Online Private Label Trade Show: 3/28–3/31
- Northern Plains Food & Farming Conference: 1/27–1/29 in Fargo, ND
- Food Northwest Process & Packaging Expo 2022: 2/3–2/4 in Portland, OR
- Illinois Specialty Crop Conference & Trade Show: 2/5–2/7 in Springfield, IL
- Winter Fancy Food Show: 2/6–2/8 in Las Vegas, NV
- World Ag Expo: 2/8–2/10 in Tulare, CA
- Organic Grain Conference & Trade Show: 2/9–2/10 in Champagne, IL
- Food Processing Expo 2022: 2/15–2/16 in Sacramento, CA
- Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Conference: 2/17–2/19 in Dayton, OH
- American Frozen Food Institute AFFI-CON: 2/19–2/22 in Dallas, TX
- Refrigerated Foods Association 41st Annual Conference and Exhibition: 2/20–2/23 in Amelia Island, FL
- UNFI Natural and Conventional Spring and Summer Show: 2/21–2/23 in Orlando, FL
- MOSES Organic Farming Conference: 2/24–2/26 in La Crosse, WI
- International Restaurant & Foodservice Show of New York: 3/6–3/8 in New York, NY
- Natural Products Expo West: 3/8–3/12 in Anaheim, CA
- Seafood Expo North America/Seafood Processing North America: 3/13–3/15 in Boston, MA
- Soil Health Academy School: Regenerative Farming & Ranching: 3/15–3/17 in Chico, CA