June 13, 2016

The Marketing Materials Artisan Food Companies Need (PODCAST)

food entrepreneur marketing

In this podcast, we continue our discussion with packaging and design experts about the types of marketing materials food entrepreneurs need and how to get them without breaking the bank



Jennifer:Hi and welcome to the Small Food Biz podcast. I’m Jennifer Lewis and in this podcast series we’re focusing on the issues food entrepreneurials face and the questions you have as you work to accelerate your business’s growth. Today’s podcast is the last in our four-part series talking with Garden Haus and Brooklyn Delhi. The focus is on the marketing material you need to effectively communicate to retailers and to consumers about what makes your product so unique and makes it worth their time and attention. If you’d like to listen to any of the first three podcasts in our discussion with Garden Haus and Brooklyn Delhi or if you’d like to listen to any of the Small Food Business podcasts, where we talk with small business experts and food entrepreneurs, you can find the links to all of them at smallfoodbiz.com/podcasts.


Garden Haus is a Brooklyn-based food packaging design firm that is brought to you by Ben Garthus, who’s a 15-year veteran of designing packaging for MegaFood brands, and Chitra Agrawal, a seasoned digital marketer and chef. In 2014, the pair launched Brooklyn Delhi, and within a year their artisanal Indian condiments line was carried in 50 stores nationwide and featured in 30 publications, including the New York Times and Saveur. Realizing the impact great packaging can have on quality products, Ben and Chitra created Garden Haus to serve the design needs of growing craft food brands.


In the course of our conversations together, we’ve touched on everything from coming up with your brand name, to positioning your product, to packaging it. There’s, obviously, more because we’ve got another podcast today. I’d love to spend some time today talking about some of the other visual components, your visual marketing components that may come into play. First, what are some of the other pieces beyond your logo and your packaging that food entrepreneurs will need to be thinking about having designed and developed, printed, whatever might be needed to be done with it?


Chitra:The first one, I’d say, is website. A lot of small food businesses end up selling direct to online consumers as well. The next one is icons for social media, so Twitter, Instagram, Facebook. These are all free ways for small food businesses to market their brand. Getting those few pieces in place is crucial in the beginning. Then, depending on what your needs are. For instance, for Brooklyn Delhi, we had Ben design banners for our booth at the Brooklyn flea and different food markets that we are part of. He also designed postcards for us. The postcards were great because it was a way for us-


Ben:We had recipe cards.


Chitra:We had recipe cards.


Jennifer:Oh, nice.


Chitra:Yes. I had developed a number of recipes using Brooklyn Delhi [inaudible 00:03:09] and I shot a couple of … I guess we shot some recipe photos and then created these postcards, because not only is it useful to the consumer or the person that’s coming up to your table, but it’s a way to market your brand.


Ben:For sure. It’s something that they’re going to hold onto because it’s a recipe. Most of that stuff, it goes straight in the trash, but because it has that value, people will hold onto it. That also ties into the whole aspect of education and how we’re thinking about educating our consumers.


Jennifer:I was just thinking about that, that especially in a product category where you’re trying to educate your consumers on how to use the product? When to use the product? The recipes are brilliant because somebody who’s picking up a product like yours is probably from … We’re talking very stereotypically here, but from mainstream America. They are looking to be more adventurous in their dining, but also are, potentially, looking for guidance on how to use the products, so that’s brilliant.


Ben:We get this thing on the packaging where it has this little [ticker 00:04:24] across the bottom where it says like, “Try it on.” Then it lists up all these different examples or ideas for ways that you could use the product. We incorporated that.


Chitra:Yeah. I feel like that’s also a piece that’s important if your product is in this educational realm. How the package, how these different marketing materials can be used for that purpose too?


Jennifer:Yeah, absolutely. That’s fantastic. You guys, obviously, also sell wholesale. What sort of things do food producers need to be thinking about when it comes to visual marketing material that they might need for buyers, brokers, distributors, that type of thing? How is that different than the recipe cards that you’re handing out to consumers or are they the same?


Ben:One big piece is sell sheet.


Jennifer:I was going to say, can you just explain briefly in case folks don’t know or aren’t familiar with that term?


Ben:Sell sheet is, basically, a little flier or a promotional piece that you give to the buyers and it breaks down all the different products and has UPCs and pricing and all this kind of stuff. Then you just have listed out all the different aspects of the product.


Chitra:Also that one has a little bit of background. It could have a little bit of background on the business. If you’ve had any press or-




Chitra:I also think that that piece is sometimes ignored by small food business because I have some friends that … I just feel like it’s neglected and that sell sheet, actually, should look just as put together, any type of branding or marketing that you put out for consumers to see.


Ben:For sure. For sure. Definitely.


Jennifer:Then, have you found, as you’ve worked with retailers, what about any point of purchase material? I know some stores are getting away from point of purchase material. Have you had stores ask you for information that they can put on display in their store or, again, maybe hand out the recipe cards to their customers?


Chitra:We’ve had stores ask for the recipe cards to give to customers before. I think some of the larger chains, they will ask for a POS, right?


Ben:For sure. To go back to that example of the frozen food aisle, there are one of those places where having some sort of communication that sticks to the outside of the glass so you can toot your own horn and get people’s attention. That’s super useful.


Chitra:It’s important that all of those pieces have the same look and feel to them, that they don’t feel disjointed because the mail goal is to put across the personality of your brand and that should be consistent across all channels because you’re trying to reinforce. I guess, people forget these days … Everyone has ADD so the more you can break through that but also with a consistent message the better people are going to really understand your brand.


Jennifer:It goes back to that brand identity that we were talking about earlier.




Jennifer:Speaking of things we talked about earlier, I hate to keep coming back to this money piece of it, but it is something that food entrepreneurs are oftentimes concerned with. How does a listener decide which marketing materials to put their money towards and which to potentially wait on? As you’re talking about graphics for a website versus sell sheet.


Ben:I think logo and packaging is definitely one of the biggest expenses, one of your biggest cost that you should spend your money on. You can get to these other things as you go, but you definitely want to start with that foundation.




Ben:A lot of things like … Chitra, do you want to talk about this a little bit?


Chitra:I definitely think the logo and the food packaging are most important. From my standpoint, I didn’t have those skills to put it out there, but I do have the marketing skills. If I were a small food business owner and I don’t have a design background and I don’t have a marketing background, I would definitely put my money towards the logo and food packaging. Possibly even just a little bit of background on strategy for social media, but then, I would own the social media because, especially if you’re a small food business that should be your voice. I do think it’s important to be able to connect with your consumers directly, but you may need a little bit of a push or information on how best to strategize on how you communicate on those channels.


For instance, for our business, i definitely have taken food photos because I have a food blog, but we didn’t invest in photos for our product. What was interesting is that we ended up getting a lot of people, photographers actually, sending us photos of our product because I think the logo and food package were so compelling. A lot of times when press would want to do a piece on us, they would ask for a high-res or a food photo. Those are actually items that we didn’t have to hire anybody to do.






Chitra:I think that it’s definitely the food packaging that people were … they were intrigued by it.




Jennifer:You could see how it would be fun to shoot for a photographer.




Jennifer:I appreciate that, especially given your marketing background, Chitra, your laying out for us, the like okay, first focus on A and B and then worry about the rest of it. Like you said, that piece about you should be owning social media, that’s really helpful because I know that folks are … they’re constantly struggling to make the most of what they can with the money that they have available for their business.


Chitra:Yeah. You could get a consultant in terms of strategy, but that’s just my take on it. I just don’t think that somebody else can be a viable voice for you, especially if you’re at the small stages of your business.


Ben:For sure. Nobody’s going to be as excited about it as you are. Coming back to that whole thing of you’re the biggest part of your brand at these beginning stages so putting yourself out there and connecting with people on this one to one or connecting to them through social media, I think, it makes a huge difference.


Chitra:That’s an opportunity for your brand to come across more authentically, which a lot of large companies don’t really have that ability.


Ben:For sure.


Jennifer:No, absolutely. Absolutely. That, actually, brings me to the end. I have all these questions here, but that brings me to the end of all of them. I guess, I was just wondering if both of you would mind sharing your biggest lesson learned? You’re, obviously, in the stages of building this very successful business. Has there been a lesson learned along the way that you’re really glad you now have in your hat and that you’ve gotten over?


Ben:There was that the piece about the gooseberry that we launched and realizing after the fact that people … It was too far of a leap for people to make. At that point in time we just changed direction a little bit and we focused on the other products that we’re doing well. I think, in a sense, not being afraid to try stuff and then change it. Just being open to stuff and paying attention and changing as you go.


Jennifer:Absolutely. We were talking about earlier just the fact that as a small business you’re able to pivot a lot quicker as needed than a large corporation, which is one of those benefits and assets that we need to remember as entrepreneurs.


Chitra:You should just be realistic with yourself too on some level, because I know that, especially, if you are the person, the creator behind a recipe, to be objective when it comes to how things are doing in the marketplace and understanding that you may have to tweak things. I think also another piece is that I think just being part of this small food network and being … We get contacted a lot by new small businesses asking for advice or they just want some type of … some tips or whatever. I feel like it’s always good to connect with as many people as possible in this industry because it gets lonely. You’re working on your food businesses, a lot of times it is a tough business. The more that you can connect with your community the better because you learn a lot from them. I know just with our business, that’s how we went to market so fast, is that we had friends in the community that helped us a lot. In turn, we help other people as well.


Ben:Don’t get too caught up in the whole competitive thing. I think it’s better to have allies and be friendly with people and just help each other out, because ultimately, as a small food business owner, we were like small potatoes compared to the big corporate guys so we have to stick together and help each other out. Hopefully, we can-


Chitra:Turn the tables.


Ben:-turn the tables a little bit on the big guys and shake them up a little bit.






Jennifer:I always say it’s like a rising tide carries all boats. If we can be a strong community and work together as opposed to working against one another, it’s going to make us all so much more powerful.




Ben:It’s pretty amazing. Things have been changing in a way that I would have never really thought about. If you look at something like microbrews and that kind of thing. 10 years ago, you couldn’t barely get anything that wasn’t … or maybe 15 years ago, but you couldn’t get anything that wasn’t like Budweiser or Miller or whatever, the big guys. I remember going to Europe and thinking like oh, god American beer sucks compared to this. Now, the last time I went over to Europe I was like I miss all these great microbrews that we have now. It’s pretty interesting that that’s happened. Then, people that are involved in this the kind of slow food movement and buying local and organic and non-GMO and just buying foods that are more health-conscious. There’s a huge shifts that’s happening and it’s great to be a part of it.


Jennifer:Yeah. There’s an enormous shift happening. Again, what’s interesting is that the big guys are not the ones who are on the forefront of it. More often than not, are letting the little folks lead the way, as they figure out what works and what doesn’t work. Then honestly, they’re letting some of the little guys grow up a little bit and then they’re buying them.


Ben:Totally. Buying them or copying them.




Chitra:We’re trying to catch up a little bit on that front, but hopefully, we’ll stick together.




Jennifer:I have faith. I have faith. I do really appreciate you guys taking the time to share all your experience and your expertise with us. I cannot thank you enough. Obviously, there will be links to both of the companies. Both Garden Haus and Brooklyn Delhi on our site so that folks know how to get in touch with you. Again, thank you so much and I wish you nothing but continued success going forward.


Ben:Thank you very much.


Chitra:Thanks so much for having us.


Ben:This has been a pleasure.


Jennifer:Thank you.


I hope that you not only enjoyed today’s podcast, but our complete series of conversations with Garden Haus and Brooklyn Delhi. We’re going to be changing tactics a bit for our next podcast, where we’ll be talking to a food entrepreneur about the challenges she’s facing in growing her business. This is a topic that I consistently hear entrepreneurs are struggling with, so I hope you’ll join us and listen in. On that note, based on feedback from listeners like you, we’re looking to incorporate more real life stories from food entrepreneurs. If you’d be interested in being interviewed about your entrepreneurial journey, please, let me know by emailing me at info (at) smallfoodbiz.com. We’re really looking for stories from food entrepreneurs who are willing to share some of the challenges they faced so that all of us listening can benefit and together we can build a stronger artisan food community.


As always, if you find this podcast series informative, I invite you to tell other food entrepreneurs you know about it and subscribe to it on iTunes by searching for the words Small Food Business. I would love if you could leave a review, as that helps me know what’s resonating with you and helps other food entrepreneurs find the podcast in the iTunes system. I also invite you to join the Small Food Business community at smallfoodbiz.com, where you’ll find a ton of resources specific to food entrepreneurs as you start and grow your business. Our Facebook page at facebook.com/smallfoodbiz is also a great source for food business information and while a host of other social media channels as well. I look forward to connecting with you. Thanks.


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