October 3, 2016
Today’s podcast was inspired by a question from one of this site’s readers but is a question that I think applies to a lot of growing small businesses. Check out today’s short and sweet podcast. I’d also be interested in knowing whether you like this format and would like to see more of it incorporated in with the other interview-style podcasts.
An entrepreneur emailed me the other day with a question that I think a lot of growing small food businesses face so I wanted to share my thoughts with you. This is what she wrote:
After months of hard work, we got into – here she named the big retailer but for privacy sake we’ll just call it Big Retailer- and demo on a regular basis to grow our metrics. We’re getting ready to enter more of their stores and I’m curious to know how to continue demo’ing in other cities.
If you were me, how would you hire, coordinate and execute a ‘demo program’ for the brand growing in the region?
First and foremost, if you don’t already know, for packaged food products that are looking to sell wholesale into stores, doing demos can be one of the best ways to grow your sales within those stores. It gives customers a chance to try your product and a chance to meet and talk with people involved with the company. But demo-ing is also time-consuming and this entrepreneur, who up until this time has been doing all the demos herself in addition to running the other aspects of the business, faces an issue that many growing food companies do at one point or another.
When faced with this question, the first thing I think of is how often are demos being performed and how far-reaching of a region are you thinking of trying to grow into. The reason I ask that is that my recommendation when you’re at this stage is to hire a demo team – two people who are looking for part-time work, this could be responsible college students as an example, who would drive around to do the demos. Of course, that’s only possible if you’re not planning on doing multiple demos in different areas on the same day and if the region you’re thinking is actually drivable.
The reason I’d personally think of hiring a demo team is that I’d want one or two people who I felt comfortable could consistently represent the product and the brand the way I want them to and are educated enough (and care enough) to answer consumers’ questions and be the face of the brand when I’m not there. Ideally, you could figure out some way to help incentive this demo team so that they feel invested in the business and care about your brand.
I will also add that when you first hire these folks, I would plan to have them go out with you for multiple demos before going out on their own so that they can learn not only from watching you. Simply handing them a bunch of company literature is not enough because these people will very literally be the face of your brand to new customers so you need to make sure you put in the effort to both hire the right people and take the time to train them appropriately.
I want to add that, as evidenced through today’s micro-pod, I welcome questions and the opportunity to talk with entrepreneurs. So please, send me your questions, thoughts, or just a note to say hi to either email@example.com or through the Small Food Business facebook page.
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