1. Partner up

Marie Farmer is founder of Mini Mealtimes, a start-up that has built an app that allows parents to track their children’s nutrition. It launched in May 2019 and has recently partnered with organic baby food brand Organix and pie and quiche company Higgidy.

“I’ll be offering my social media followers a selection of prizes from the brands I’ve partnered up with over the course of a week,” says Farmer. “I’m sure this will increase my own brand exposure. Whenever I’ve done something similar in the past, clicks on my register to download button have tripled. And the bounce rate has dropped as low as 12%.”

Looking ahead, she hopes to work with an organisation like food bank charity The Trussell Trust to help boost her profile nationwide.

2. Understand the target market

Through conducting market research, Farmer realised that more and more parents are looking for products with sustainable values. This has informed how she does business.

“While I have partnered with food brands that make pre-packaged meals and snacks, I only work with those that have either made an effort to switch to packaging that is recycled and recyclable, or those that use locally-sourced ingredients,” adds Farmer.

3. Embrace sustainability

According to a 2018 survey by Pro Carton, 55% of UK consumers are purchasing more products that come in environmentally-friendly packaging, while 36% are shunning certain products because of concerns about the packaging. Nine in 10 people want packaging to be more easily recycled.

Given this shift in attitude, Small & Wild, a company producing a range of herbal and fruit teas for children, has decided to make the switch to being plastic-free. Its tea bags are biodegradable and its outer packaging is recyclable. It has now confirmed a compostable cellulose inner packaging.

“This is something we had wanted to do from launch but had concerns regarding maintaining quality. While it’s more expensive, we feel it was an important move to make on both a business and personal level,” says Small & Wild’s co-founder Kate Towers. “It definitely matters to potential customers.”

4. Hand out samples

Consumers will often want to know what food products taste like before they buy them, especially if they’re already loyal to a particular brand.

In-store sampling is effectively free advertising – building brand recognition, driven by word of mouth, and contributing to sales

Jacqueline Barleycorn
Founder of The Great British Porridge Co

Jacqueline Barleycorn, founder of The Great British Porridge Co, has found in-store sampling to be an effective way to drum up interest in her products. “We’re a fledgling company that’s been going for just over a year. Handing out samples is a fantastic way to get our brand in front of the public,” says Barleycorn. “In-store sampling is effectively free advertising – building brand recognition, driven by word of mouth, and contributing to future sales.”

Another benefit of offering samples, she adds, is that feedback received from the public can help to develop your brand and products.

5. Have a killer referral programme

Much like word of mouth can boost the profile of a food brand, referral programmes can be crucial for online and e-commerce businesses to grow their customer base.

“A referral campaign can be the best way to boost visibility,” says Tommaso Dolfi, head of marketing at career development platform Pathfinder Software. “It needs two crucial key factors to be a success: the product must be good and the campaign has to fit the business model – too many brands can get it wrong by trying to force customers to refer friends for the sake it.”

For example, Dolfi says, a referral programme where customers receive free products or discounts on a future order for referring is going to benefit one-time-purchase businesses more than it will subscription businesses that rely on repeat custom.

6. Tailor your social media content

Al Black, co-founder and production director of online-voiceover agency Voquent, says that social media has been crucial for its organic growth. Customers use the agency to cast voice actors for everything from corporate videos to video games and animations.

“We’ll soon surpass 12,000 voices on our books and we’ve now got a full-time talent manager to handle the recruitment and moderation of submissions,” says Black. “The more voices we have, the more choice customers have to choose from and the more likely they are to use the platform again.”

Voquent has amassed the number of voices it has on its books through Instagram and Twitter, only posting content that it knows voice-over artists will like and share.

“You need to know what your audience is interested in and cater to that,” says Black. “You can use all the tools in the world, but if your content isn’t tailored to your audience, you’ll be forgotten instantly.”

7. Don’t forget the local newspaper

In the age of social media, businesses can be quick to forget about the value of advertising in print.

“While people may think the print editions of local newspapers are out-of-date, sharing our news in our local paper has been beneficial in boosting our presence,” says Caroline Pegden, co-founder of TempaGoGo, a start-up aiming to simplify temporary agency recruitment.

She adds that it can be an ideal way to amplify your company’s products or services, especially if your potential customers are the same demographic as the people in the local area that the newspapers are distributed to. What’s more, compared with national print, the advertising rates are likely to be lower.

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