My marketing plan needs a makeover - where do I start?
I'm an English major, an idea person and right brain thinker. I thought I wrote a "good" plan, but realize that even though it initially worked, it isn't working now. I've upgraded my label from a primitive version, changed the packaging, and made the products consistent in branding and logo design. My products are an all natural line of gluten free fruit fillings, sauces, and a bisque that are versatile in both cooking and baking recipes. I'm stuck. I tested these products when they first came out last fall, and received over 1,000 comments. I made some adjustments and it continued to sell, then dropped off significantly in the spring of this year. The website is www.juliesfinefoods.com.
I suggest starting with the vision, mission, values and strategic positioning of your firm. Are they still relevant? Is the management team in alignment with regards to each? Is a consistent "on brand" story being told by everyone in the organization?
Go back and reevaluate your vision, mission, values and strategic positioning and ensure everyone on the management team is in agreement.
Then go about developing your brand platform which will inform the evolution of your marketing plan.
what have you done marketing wise and what has worked for you? If you ca answer that then I would try and recreate it, if not then I suggest looking at what you have/have not done around marketing to promote your products and put a strategy together to give it a push. I'm available anytime and the first consultation is free.
I think this is an excellent idea and I sense your frustration in trying to achieve your marketing plan. You have receive some good ideas so far. One thing you must remember is that a marketing plan cannot remain static, it must be dynamic. This is a new business and there are a lots of variables that may impact your plan that you may not have budgeted for - why would more people use your product in fall compared to spring? Who is your target market and are they the ones who purchased in fall? Is there anything you did differently in fall compared to spring?
Go back and really analyze your results as compared to your plan. Look behind the figures to see what is driving your results, and using the information shared in this forum explore other marketing options e.g: are you using your site to provide information or are you selling? If you are selling you need to have a call to action page that will encourage people to buy right away. This will also capture name and contact information so you can use this to keep in touch later on. Even if you are just providing information the page must be set up in such a way to entice people to want to get the information. Can people share your website on their smartphones? Do you need to amend your offline marketing strategy? Would free sessions on gluten free products for housewives help? How are you keeping in contact with your clients? What is your competition doing?
These are my thoughts on your issue. You are not stuck, it is just the universe way of saying you need to explore more options. If i can be of any help feel free to contact me.
Do you have a way for your customers to communicate with you? If they have stopped buying there is a reason and if there is no attempt on your part to engage your customers, they will just leave and not say why. I took a look at your website and there is no obvious, easy place for them to keep in touch with you.
The first place I would start is with your customers and then revisit your plan. I also agree with Lashondra in creating a short term plan typically 90 days.
You have some wonderful products here. You simply need to get the word out in a wider and stronger capacity. I would suggest doing an e-commerce page on your website where people can see the product and cost and purchase right from there. That would get your sales increased. You could do pintrest,you tube, and or both in conjunction with other social media to get your presence out there. I always tell people....less is more.....especially with a website! Our company has the ability to do all of the above for you, we can look at a radio commercial that goes world wide on our station, and we will soon have our own VCM tv up and running. PLEASE give me a call and we can chat and get this done for such a reasonable price. Glad to help out :0)
KVCM Internet Radio
What is your LEAD GENERATION PLAN? You need PROSPECTS before you can make a sale. I see no mention of it in your question.
I looked at your site.. it has NO lead generation strategy. That is BIG marketing mistake.
At the risk of tooting my own horn... I do offer a Free Marketing Check-Up/Analysis. :) :) No sales pitch, just helpful tips you can implement right away
Contact me if you're interested. No strings attached!
"the Marketing Coach"
Along with all the great advice you've already received so far, keep in mind that no marketing plan is ever really "finished." Good marketing and branding requires consistent optimizing to not only grow your customer base, but to retain the ones you already have as well. You tested last fall? Now might be the time to test again... And also remember the strongest marketing you can possibly do nowadays is social marketing. Why? It's so much easier and efficient to track your audience via analytics to see how they are flowing through the marketing funnel. Marketing and branding is also a very full-time job (with lots of overtime) to be done effectively. Most businesses are better off hiring or contracting this very tedious part of their business so that they can concentrate more on the operations of their businesses. Also, it's quite a learning curve if you are not in or well familiar with marketing and branding... most especially for a startup. Consider seeking a good marketing company to help you before giving up on your business. Anything can sell... ANYTHING... that is, if you market it right. Hope this helps. ;-)
Do you have Google Analytics installed? Can you see if you had a drop off in traffic (people visiting) vs. a drop off in sales (people are still coming but not buying).
A couple of things that might help attract traffic...
I would add some descriptive text to your product pages. Both Google and site visitors need more information. Google can't "see" you pictures, so those pages look (almost) blank to the search engines.
Also, if you look at your Gluten FAQ page, you will see the link in the address bar looks like this "http://juliesfinefoods.com/?page_id=84". It would be better if that link looked like this "http://juliesfinefoods.com/gluten-frequently-asked-questions". It looks like you are using Wordpress. You can change the links under Settings | Permalinks (try the one that says post).
I would also contact independent coffee shops, grocery co-ops, and places like that to see if they would be interested in carrying your products and/or offering them to their customers.
Hope that helps - best of luck!
Hi Julie, I took a look at your site and found it to be appealing and informative, yet not overwhelming. All great things. The one concern is Where to Buy, which is either non-functional (e.g. the directory) or vague (the listed stores). It is not clear if your website is your primary selling means but let's get back to basics:
Intent- what are you looking to accomplish with your marketing effort? dig deep, the answer is usually not what you think.
Audience- who are you trying to reach with your message? the more you know about them the better. If there is more than one audience then split them up into buckets.
Venue- where does your audience go to get the sort of message you want to deliver? Is it social media, web site, directory, magazine, etc?
Content- content is informed by the first three items. That which you write is designed to convey your intent to the intended audience and is deliverable through the media that your audience prefers.
When a client is stuck I always suggest they go back to the beginning. Feel free to reach out; I will gladly provide a no-charge, no obligation consult.
Before I answer your main question... What happened in spring? Did your marketing change in any way? Did your search ranking drop? Did your web traffic go down? These are important questions which can help figure out the problem.
As far as your question... where to start? First you need to figure out EXACTLY who your target market is. Once you know your target market, you can figure out how to best reach them. Once you know the best ways to reach them you should determine whether you have the time and knowledge to set up your own marketing plan or if it's best to hire a pro. Then establishing a marketing budget is important to know what you can afford to do... the more marketing options you can use (which are right for your business) the better. To help you figure a marketing budget, it is important to know what the life time value of a customer is. Once you know a customer's life time value, you easily decide how much you can spend to get a customer and make a profit... this can put you ahead of competition. Then figure out what you need to do to up-sell and/or keep your customers coming back.
A website and branding are important marketing tools, but establishing a sound marketing plan first will tell you where your marketing efforts should be going.
I agree with the comments so far. I checked out your site and it does need some personality. Can you tell me if you're marketing to other businesses or consumers? I went to the "Where to Buy" page and I was confused. I would recommend that you provide an option for users to buy online. Also, if you happened to collect email addresses from folks who have already purchased, I'd recommend keeping in touch with them with new product offerings and special deals. Also, people love personal stories. I would strongly recommend writing in the first person. Start by rewriting your "About Us" page. Pick up a copy of Cook's Illustrated for a good example. Finally, a consistent brand image is great unless it's sterile. You're not selling medical equipment. Food is fun--show people eating or baking! Hope this helps and good luck!
Julie, there are several extremely basic issues....
The biggest one is, how are you continuing to GET THE WORD OUT. One of the biggest mistakes most marketers make is building a nice website and just waiting for the buyers to find it. If you don't continue to PUSH your message OUT to your target markets your product will either die or just limp along. Guaranteed.
An equally fundamental issue is, what's your DIFFERENTIATION? What makes your product special? "Versatile gluten free products" is simply not good enough. Figuring out how to differentiate yourself is not easy (which is why 90% of businesses give up on doing it!) but it is absolutely critical to your success.
A third basic issue: "Gluten free" is big territory. Your website home page needs to spell out and promote that you're talking about fruit fillings, etc. specifically. The first two things every website visitor wants to know are what exactly are you offering (do I need that?) and what makes it any different than what I can get elsewhere? You've got to answer both of those questions within the first 2 to 5 seconds, or they will simply move on.
If I can help further, call me. I do marketing and differentiation consultation for businesses of all types and sizes.
Al Shultz alshultz.com/
Start with your message. Most forget it but it is the most important. Should be compelling and based upon the marketing equation - interrupt, engage, educate and offer.
Then target market and ideal client. And determine how and where they get their information to buy.
Hi Julie -- First you need to understand what truly drove previous success and sales. Did you get visibility at your launch? PR? Or, is the product seasonal? I would think so. (If you were launched in the Fall, you were heading into the holidays and the prime baking season -- I baked dozens of cookies for Christmas and nothing since.) Also, have you done anything to update the website and add new content? You need fresh content all the time -- maybe recipes? Think about your marketing as an ongoing thing -- it never rests.
I agree with Lanie about the story. I would distill that down two two paragraphs max for use on the home page with a link to the about us page if they want to learn more. This will help with your SEO ranking as well. I also didn't get any idea of WHY you choose to make gluten free foods. Do you have or care for someone with Celiac's disease? Do you find that you don't digest gluten well? And have you struggled to find suitable products like yours for gluten free cooking? Give your audience something to relate to and show them why you are passionate about what you do.
I would also highly encourage the use of product shots on your home page. As it stands, it's a bit confusing what your main offering is. Almost makes it look like you offer party planning services. You might also rethink muffin imagery on a gluten free food site. I realize they can be made gluten free, but I don't see you offering any, so try to replace with your products if possible or other relevant imagery. On the product page, while the peach and butternut products look appealing, do you have professional packaging shots you could use there? Will make the products appear more official/trustworthy. Use your FB pics, they're much more mouth-watering!
To Craig's point, I would absolutely look into bloggers/influencers. There are a ton of them in the gluten free space and I wouldn't pigeon-hole yourself there, go for dessert and savory chef ones as well. Reach out and say that you'd like them to try your product and if interested, you'd send them a package free-of-charge. If they are not a gluten-free blogger, perhaps even look for some recipes they have posted where you could suggest they refer to your product as an option for those readers of theirs that have gluten restrictions or need gluten free diets. You might also look at your local media (newspapers, TV, radio) to see if any of the writers or on-air personalities are gluten free and talk about the products they love. Send them a care package saying you heard them say there were gluten free and you wanted them to give your product a try. If nothing else, you may get a tweet or FB post on their channels.
Do you collect contact info such as email from your customers? If not, perhaps start doing that and following up with quarterly newsletters featuring the best gluten free recipes you've found (crediting I any bloggers) and upcoming or newly launched products. You might also consider sending along a favorite recipe or two with each product they purchase. And handwritten notes are always a nice touch for a small, personal business.
It sounds like you did all the "right" steps in laying the groundwork before moving forward. But, if marketing isn't your area of expertise you may not be looking at the right metrics to figure out why there was a sudden drop.
You would benefit from a marketing professional coming in to do an assessment of your current marketing efforts - analyze your website, analytics, sales, distribution, sales process, etc. Until you have a thorough understanding of what's going on, your initiatives will basically be just shots in the dark.
There have been some good suggestions made, but depending on how your product is sold/distributed it could be more of an issue of where your product is placed at a retailer than your actual website. Though, it really is impossible to say without more knowledge of your business.
Once an analysis is done, then you can move forward in creating a comprehensive plan for moving forward. One that takes your goals, budget and abilities into account.
Happy to talk more. Best of luck!
You need an inbound marketing strategy and you need help to execute it consistently and efficiently.
You need a way to generate more traffic, convert that traffic to leads and then close those leads and it would be best if you could automate all of this as much as you can.
Describing what you need depends on your goals and your budget.
What is inbound marketing?
See this for a brief overview.
Ms. Julie, your marketing should never become stale, whoops forgive the pun.
As in your products, you need to continuously be churning the pot. I would suggest looking for a professional marketing mentor. I am sure that your plan probably needs a tweak or two, as do all marketers find sooner or later. But don't fret as most marketers find it is the little nuances that get the customers back. Your basic plan will work I am sure. Are you in a holiday marketing situation, customers who travel seasonally? I can not speak as to your specific product lines personally, as I am really not sure where my oven really is.. I can't bake or cook to please anyone but myself..Interactive marketing plans today are the best way to bring in the elusive cash flow. Get your customers involved, get yourself a blog or active site to allow your customers direct contact. Betty Crocker type cook book with yearly updates as my Mom used for decades for instance.
From my experience, marketing plan makeovers require business owners to answer some tough questions about their business.
Definitely agreeing w/ Vicki Adams re: questions she asked. What do you mean by "it initially worked"? What are your competitors doing to gain the spotlight/attention of your customers? Are you targeting whole sellers? bakeries? It's hard to tell from your website. How did you test the products initially? Why exactly did you make those adjustments?
The list of questions can go on - I'd say SEO/marketing consultants should come after you've figured out where you want to take your business.
Hi Julie, Congrats on getting your business off the ground. I was an English major too, and we do make great marketers if we tap into our creative side. I agree with Chrishan, your website presence is quite bland. Your product should be targeted to young Moms who have kids with gluten problems and adults too. Having said that, your target audience is primarily women because they are usually in charge of groceries and meal planning. Another way to connect with your target audience is through social media. Make sure it is entertaining. Develop easy recipes using your products that you share. Invite people to share their favourite recipes. If you are interested in doing more with social media, or your website, PM me and I'll be glad to offer a complimentary consultation. Good luck with your venture.