Let’s get to what you really want to know … how do I go to market in an overcrowded space?
The challenge for ingredient marketers is to be heard above the clutter of their competition, shouting about their different products and services. In order to get your particular low-sodium ingredient into the hands of R&D, product development and marketing executives, you must show them how your ingredient will add value to their product.
You should focus on three things:
1) Differentiate your product from all the others. Which means, speak a different language than your competition. If everyone is saying the same thing, you won’t stand out. Show how your ingredient will uniquely provide benefits and value to your customers specific product application. If you aren’t sure your product is any different from the competition, then determine how to say the same thingdifferently.
Differentiation also means developing an identity for the product that is consistently communicated to the market. An identity comes in the form of a trade brand name, logo, and a look and feel.
2) Communicate directly with your customers. The best form of communication may be face-to-face, but this isn’t always feasible. Use other targeted tactics to get in front of them. Develop an e-mail list of key contacts within a customer company. Distribute a customized e-blast to those contacts and track the results. Send those contacts an unsolicited sample of the product with application ideas that meet their needs. Then follow-up with a phone call to gauge their interest.
3) Connect across the entire customer enterprise. Don’t settle for a single contact in purchasing. Engage contacts throughout the company including the marketing department, R&D, product development and food science as well as the C-suite. Easier said than done, right? Unfortunately there isn’t one simple way to obtain that magical list. Consider these avenues for list development:
– List providers: Many exist out there. Be sure to qualify the list against your key audiences. Also, beware, if you want to e-mail this list you will likely need to distribute the e-mail through the providers’ system because these contacts have not opted-in to your subscriber list.
– Tradeshow exhibitor and attendee lists: Also gather and record all contacts made at the show. Have a system in place so that your staff doesn’t forget to share their contacts with everyone.
– LinkedIn: Probably the biggest missed opportunity. Upload your current prospect list to LinkedIn and start connecting with these people. LinkedIn will then provide recommendations on others you may be interested in. You will be amazed by how targeted these are. Search for a contact or company and gather more information on them. Use contacts you already have to make an introduction to someone new.
In the years to come, food ingredient companies will continue to agressively market products based on important trends. Make sure your products stand out successfully in this already crowded marketplace.