Natural and organic products are flying off the shelves quicker than ever, and the trend only continues to grow. Sales of natural products are forecasted to reach over $250 billion by 2019, so if you’re in the natural goods industry, you’ve picked a good time to enter the market. However, you’re also not the only one. Entrepreneurs have taken notice of the increase in consumer demand for natural products and are hard at work bringing new goods to the shelves of major retailers every day. So how do you stand out in such a saturated market? Of course, it starts with creating a great product. But product alone won’t get you the returns your investors are looking for. You also need to focus on creating a sales and marketing strategy that can scale with your brand.
There are a few things you’ll need to know when formulating an effective strategy to get your goods into the stores and ultimately into the hands of consumers. Below are some sales and marketing tips for natural products brands who are ready to scale:
Building your sales strategy is all about finding a way to get your product out to the retailers. This is separate from marketing, which is really about creating a brand and promoting it once it’s on the shelves. So what do you need to consider when working on sales? The most important thing is to have a clear plan and stick to it! You have to think about who you want to sell to, and what distribution channel you plan to use. Are you going to use the major natural products distributors (UNFI or KeHe), or are you considering the direct to consumer route? Knowing where you want to go will help you find the right sales people to get you there. You don’t have to (and shouldn’t) do everything on your own. Rely on the experts–work with your broker or sales agent to develop your plan.
There are several elements that go into creating a good sales program:
- Focus: Don’t be diverted from your plan. An offer from a conventional, large-scale retailer might be enticing, but if that wasn’t in your plan, it might not be the best decision for your brand in the long run.
- Accountability: Even though your sales team are the experts, you’ll want to stay involved. Results of strategies should be reported in a timely and efficient manner. Being involved allows you to build trust and relationships with your team, which makes things easier when changes need to be made.
- Flexibility: There’s more than one way to skin a cat, right? Your team may come up with different approaches to get the results you want. Don’t be afraid to try something new while keeping the end goal in mind. It’s likely that you’ll want to revise your plan at some point. Successful sales teams often have a rolling 12-month program that is updated monthly, based on data. Iterate your sales plan when you identify strategies that are working.
When it comes to marketing and communication, remember that brand building is imperative! Recognition commands value, so make sure you have a solid understanding of how you want consumers to perceive your product. A few things to consider when developing a marketing plan:
- Consumers: Know your consumer! Buy research, do consumer insight work, and communicate with customers to really understand what drives their choices. Use social media to help you connect with and keep loyal consumers.
- Experts: Hire a PR agency or freelancer to help with your messaging. Once again, you don’t have to be the expert in every area. Rely on professionals to help you create a consistent message and build your brand personality.
- Promotions: Create a promotional plan and stick with it. Your promotions program should be connected to your sales plan. Set an annual promotional calendar and follow it all year. Don’t get bullied into providing special offers if you didn’t already build it into your calendar.
Building a strong sales and marketing plan is crucial to the success of your business. Recognize that you will need to spend some money to reach your goals. You know your product better than anyone, but that doesn’t mean you can market it better than anyone. If you make strategic decisions about who to hire and when to hire them, you can build a team of sales and marketing experts who will work together to build your brand and create a loyal customer base.
Want more information on developing sales and marketing strategies for your brand? We coordinated with Bill Capsalis, a 20-year veteran in the natural foods business and the president of Naturally Boulder, to create a recent webinar series that can help. You can check it out here.