3 Surprising Truths About Effective Marketing

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!

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