Launching a product based business in the United States can be both exciting and strenuous. With so many avenues for marketing, promoting, and selling your product, it can also be difficult to decide on what will be the best direction to take your business?
When launching a product within the food and beverage industries, it can be even more exhausting due to rules and state/national regulations regarding labeling, approved marketing practices, and other restrictions. Without proper planning and resources in place, it can take much more effort than first expected to get into new markets, if at all even possible.
In order to ensure the successful launch or growth into new markets, brand owners need to be prepared, resourceful, and realistic regarding expectations.
Here are 5 questions that every business owner should ask themselves when preparing to scale into new markets:
#1. Who is going (or will continue) to buy my product(s)?
In the beginning, these customers are what marketers consider your early adopters. These people are the ones that “get your branding,” love your message, and are the ones engaging with your brand on social media.
Your early adopter are the ones you truly want to build a relationship with, asking for feedback, provide incentives (loyalty offers), and when possible, asking what it is/was about your business that stood out to them the most.
#2. How are people going to know about my business?
Once you have identified who your early adopters are, now it is time to really get to know them on a personal level. As much data as you can gather such as: likes and dislikes, where they hang out (physically or virtually), and how often they would potentially engage with your brand.
By empowering your team with these insights, you now have an opportunity go through your options of how to continue to develop your message, identify the appropriate channels (social media, SEO, traditional media, etc.) to communicate with these individuals on, and identify potential partners to collaborate with that have the same interests in reaching your ideal audience.
#3. How can I encourage people to buy?
One of the top reasons why some product and service based businesses fail is that too much reliance is placed on 3rd party companies to do their sales. Yes, in many industries, these 3rd party businesses are vital to get your business off the ground and can be difficult to attract in the beginning, however, this should not be thought of as the end of your sales cycle.
Companies such as distributors/wholesalers and retailers are merely a means of getting your product in a place where customers can make a purchase.
Just because you product is on the shelves, doesn’t ensure that people will know they need to buy it.
By creating an actionable marketing plan that is structured to increase brand awareness and generate consumer demand in the market place, your business will not only attract the more consumers, but also the right industry partners to get your products/services in front of more buyers.
#4. Can I afford to take my business on this path?
Another area that business owners tend to underestimate, or not realistically take into consideration, is how much doing business in specific markets is going to cost.
Just saying “we will be selling in 3 states in 5 months,” is a great goal, but (depending on industry) how is this going to be accomplished? Do you know where to start? What individual city markets (if any) are home to your early adopters? How many business owners/customers can you potentially get your business in front of?
All markets are different with variable barriers to entry including different amounts of competition for shelf space or marketing $$$$$$.
New Market Analysis Equation:
Taking the time to make an honest and realistic forecast (at least 3 years) will help you quantify your numbers and assumptions. The following equation is an example of what should be analyzed before moving into a new market.
To reach sales goal of (A) we need (B) venues selling (C) units which will take (D) sales people (E) amount of time. Each sales person is going to cost (F) monthly, and may cost (G) to get our products in the doors.
By doing so, you should be able to answers to the following questions:
Is this market right for my business?
Can I afford to move my business at this pace?
How many employees/contractors will I have to hire to accomplish these goals?
Do we have enough of a marketing budget?
Can I afford this with our current capital or should we take another path?
#5. What people/resources do I need to make sure my business is successful?
Business owners are notorious for “wearing all of the hats.” Sometimes you rely on either a family member, friend, or someone you know that has been in “the business” before and you decide to partner with that individual.
Many business owners should go back to their marketing and business plans, assumption sets, and forecasts reading them like a road map to say, “If this is the direction we are going in, who do I need to make sure this ship stays on course?”
Weighing out costs, necessary skillsets, training, and liabilities, while keeping other market factors/conditions in mind should help you properly identify the right teammates or potential partners necessary to steer your business down a path of success.
By taking the time to truly dig deep into these questions, you can begin to put together a mindset and a plan of where you want your business to go, how you’re going to get there, and who/what you are going to need along the way to be successful.
For more ideas of how to get your business on the right path, take a look at 6 steps to creating a successful marketing strategy.