April 12, 2013
Without a doubt, the one piece of your business that really makes you stand apart in a crowded marketplace is your story. All of us have a story to tell about how we landed on this wonderful rollercoaster known as entrepreneurship and the kicker is that other people actually want to hear this story! They may love your product but it’s your story that will really help them connect with your company, your brand, and your products. So what are you telling them?
I had the opportunity to talk with an extremely motivated young couple who in just their first year of business have managed to get their specialty food product* into a number of very well-respected local retailers. They’ve done all this while also taking their product to farmers markets, attending school part-time, and financing this all via part-time jobs (if you’re like me, you’re trying to figure out how they’ve managed to do all this…oh to be 20-something again and have that kind of energy!). The product they make is unique enough that it does stand out on the shelf, but when I met with them they were struggling with how to tell their story to retail buyers. Believe it or not, they didn’t necessarily even believe that they had a story to tell despite the fact that the motivation for creating the company was based on one of the owner’s heritage.
If you’re struggling with something similar think through this exercise and see if that helps bring your story to life:
Why did you start this company? Few of us get into the food world solely driven by the financial profits. No, instead, most food entrepreneurs get into the industry because they have a love of food, a love of history and culture, a love of community, and a desire to share and do something/provide something good to the world. Look past the ‘business plan’ for a minute and pretend like you were telling your best friend why you started the company. What, in your heart, motivated you to start this?
That initial reason – perhaps you only wanted to use fair trade products because you believe it’s better for the earth or maybe you wanted to provide food that someone on food stamps could afford and is good for them – is the emotion you need to convey to customers. You want them to be as excited about what you’re doing as you are but it’s hard for them to be excited if they never hear the story behind the company.
Thanks to social media, it’s now easier than ever to share your story with your customers. Put it on your website, develop a logo that connects with that key emotion that’s driving you, share your story with your social media fans and ask for their thoughts and feedback. Better yet, engage them and ask them to share with you what motivates them about your brand.
So let me turn the tables on you – care to share what your company’s story is? I’d love it if you’d share your stories with me either here in the response section or by emailing me at info(at)smallfoodbiz(dot)com.
*Sorry, as I have not asked their express permission to mention their company in this piece I’m opting to respect their privacy.