You have started a business with no money, and figured out packaging and labeling. Now it’s time to find some low-cost marketing ideas for your food business.
Marketing, especially advertising and promotion, can eat up your entire budget in minutes – without bringing a single customer through your door. New business owners often feel that they have to market the same way large food brands market. However, you cannot out advertise the big boys. Large food companies spend millions every year to paint the airwaves and magazines with pictures of their products. They pay grocers a slotting fee so that their products are on the shelves. It’s a scatter shot approach – by having their product everywhere it’s bound to find its market. Small food companies cannot play this game. We must carefully define our target market and promote directly to them. Luckily there are many ways to do this for little or no money. So, don’t start marketing your business by putting together even a TV advertisement or a big ad in the local paper.
Low Cost Marketing Ideas:
- Place a notice on Craigslist.
- Create a web site, even if it is just a basic site that explains who you are, what you make, and how to contact you.
- Write a blog that lets your potential customers learn about you and your product.
- Use an old-fashioned sandwich board outside your store.
- Send a monthly newsletter to your customers, either by mail or email.
- Offer classes using your products at your location.
- Teach a class using your products at your local community education center.
- Host in-store demonstrations and free tastings.
- Plan a special event around your product and invite the local newspapers and TV stations.
- Get people talking about your products either through using social media or online forums.
- Sponsor a local Little League or soccer team.
- Donate products to further a special cause, but only if you know how it will be promoted (unless it’s a cause you would support anyway).
I was once asked to donate quite a bit of product to promote a worthy cause. That was fine and dandy, except that the product was put into individual gift baskets which were then auctioned. The basket winners didn’t know that those products had been donated, and there was no press release issued about the donations. So, while donating can be a wonderful way to both support a cause you support and to get your business name recognized, it can also be an expensive lesson in what-not-to-do. Now it’s time to set your food business started – and save money too! Need help with your new business web pages, product development, or employee step-by-step guide? Contact me!