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Brand Experts Share Marketing Hacks For Small Makers

Specialty Food Association

Brand marketers shared tips for specialty brands with small marketing budgets, Monday, during the Fancy Food Show session Marketing in an Ever-Changing World: How to Keep Your Brand Relevant.

Cathryn Olchowy, VP of marketing, Joyfull Bakery related that in-store sampling events are not only a great way to incite trial but also to conduct consumer research. 

“It’s not just about sampling the product but standing there and talking to people,” she said. “Why do they want to buy the product? Why do they not want to buy the product?"

During such events she learned that the product she was marketing, crisps made with parmesan cheese, were not just serving as a standalone snack.

"We learned that people were pairing and sharing, and using them on charcuterie boards for guests which was really different from similar products on the market," she said.

Adam Brown, founder and president of Sircle Media noted that armed with such information, marketers can  “go to cheese brands that aren’t competitive and meat brands and share the feedback and say ‘let’s partner,'" on social media cross-promotions. "If you reach out to 10 brands, one might do it and it’d be free exposure. It’s almost better to be small than big so you can get scrappy like that.”

Olchowy related that she was also able to expand exposure by partnering with a very influential charcuterie blogger who requested coupons rather than actual payment.

When it comes to testing product packaging, Olchowy recommended bringing the vessel to an actual grocery store and putting it on the shelf alongside competitive brands. She once tried this with a refrigerated soup brand with which she was working.

“It had an orange lid that looked obnoxious in our facility but it really popped on the shelf,” she said. “Also, take your product to another set, not just your competitive set, and draw inspiration from completely different industries, like how Apple is packaging the iphone, and think about how your package can stand out.”

Brown suggested taking it one step further by filming the process and putting it TikTok. "People might engage and then you'd have five or six pieces of content from that one idea," he said.

He also advised courting retail buyers and asking questions such as "'what's a hero in your store that you're shocked is a hero,'" he said.

Related: Panelists: Walmart Endeavors to Lead in Innovation; Shelf-Stable Specialties Most Impacted by Inflation.