Getting out there
Being able to market yourself as a company, whether it is the company as a whole or just a specific product, is something that every company has to do. However, exactly what a given organization actually gets out of its efforts is typically hard to manage and asset, while always hoping for the best.
Oftentimes, when people hear the word “marketing,” they think about companies branding and positioning themselves directly in the eye of the consumer. However, I’ve come to learn that there are many organizations out there (if not most organizations) that have to market themselves to other businesses, which involved an entirely different approach to the process. I’ve recently spent time delving into the marketing efforts at my firm, which are mostly directed towards other businesses. Much of the work was about preparing for trade shows and creating material to go directly to our customers. However, the most interesting part for me was doing research on the topic and generating ideas for possible marketing plans.
One of the most intriguing things for me was realizing how the food and beverage industry is filled with different trade shows, exhibits, and events all over the country. Of course, recognizing the current laws in place, I was limited to only looking at events that are occurring in the areas where we have legal rights. Nevertheless, the more I learned about trade shows and the preparation necessary for them, the more I both acknowledged and questioned their practicality. It is a great place for people all throughout the industry to come together and network and grow their own ventures, which can be incredibly rewarding. But on the other hand, it seems funny to me that a large number of companies that do the same thing are all in going after the same goal at the same event. One of the greatest challenges was to think about ways to be different from everyone else. When everyone is relatively in the same boat, putting emphasis on differentiation and competitive advantages is critical to make the most out of our events. However, I realized that there are great costs associated with this form of marketing and very little tangible ways of understanding the true benefit and the return on investment it provides. For example, just deciding to have a table costs thousands of dollars, not to mention you are going through your our products when sampling them on top of all other costs.
Furthermore, another idea that I learned about was marketing directly to businesses through mail, phone, and internet, and also industry specific magazines. As far as magazines are concerned, I find that it is a similar situation as with trade shows – although you are communicating with a very targeting and specific audience, you are in the meantime competing against hundreds of other firms that do exactly the same thing as you. Here, differentiation is key, and will bring the most value because advertising in these magazines is not inexpensive. Of course, there is also the option to advertise in national magazines serve as touch points with the consumer, but for a smaller company, this just doesn’t make sense. The cost of these advertisements is extremely high and considering the small size of the company which does not supply huge brands, trying to build a large scale brand on the consumer level will probably not have a great return, at least yet, especially considering the number of years or decades some large brands have taken to become what they are today.
Overall I’ve learned that the most strategic focus to take when marketing to other businesses is demonstrating that your product will do great in their stores and will certainly make a lot of money. The greatest incentive businesses will have for buying your specific product is if you prove to them that they will make money from it with minimal resources on their behalf.