Get more bang from your marketing bucks!

One of the underlying themes of the Food For Thought workshop was targeting efforts to make sure they provide good value for money.

In small businesses it often feels that life would be easier if only we had the budget/ resources/ personnel available to large competitors. However every business, large or small, has more opportunities than they have cash to invest in; there’s always competition for extra funding.

So it’s vital that marketing spend is targeted and planned to ensure that it delivers the best return.

At the workshop Hayley Reynolds of Devon based firm RAW Food & Drink PR & Marketing shared her advice for using PR to successfully promote food and drink businesses.

Hayley works with a huge array of iconic brands in this sector, and she used case studies from some of her recent clients to illustrate what has worked to get her clients the coverage they are looking for.

1. Know your target audience
Who is your ideal customer? Understand what they like about your product and where they shop, what they read, and potentially what other brands they are interested in.

This information allows you to select the right publications to reach those key customers and saves expensive mistakes from putting the right marketing in the wrong place.

2. Know your objective
Next, what response do you want from your marketing campaign? Again this helps to target your efforts in the right direction.

The example that Hayley gave was when a product is only available in a handful of west country outlets. A glorious review in The Sunday Times food supplement will not necessarily deliver the sales uplift that you might expect as the majority of readers will be unable to buy your product.

In this case local coverage, or a focus on trade press to attract additional stockists is a more effective use of your marketing budget.

3. Know the opportunity
Hayley showed us some of the success she’s had by carefully targeting the right publications with the right stories.

Carefully crafting a story that appeals to a magazine editor and will entertain their readership potentially allows them to find ways to promote your product without requiring fully paid advertising space.

The result of this is that your cost is lower and the marketing is likely to be more effective because the writer’s enthusiasm for the product will come across to the reader.

The key factor here is to understand who the readers of each publication are and how this compares to your target customer’s profile.

Taking time to work out where to put your marketing ultimately means you can make your marketing spend work harder for you.

You don’t get anything for nothing

At the Food For Thought workshop in February we were lucky enough to have a presentation from Janet Herniman looking at both what grant funding is currently available and also sharing some of her top tips for making funding bids successful.

BREXIT has undoubtedly introduced uncertainty in the grant funding landscape, but the government is expected to continue supporting investment in our business performance one way or another both before and after March 2019, largely because it’s good for our economy.

Janet is in a rare position as she works closely with several of the grant awarding authorities in Devon and so in in an excellent position to give us the most up to date information about what is available in which area.

Also, this experience gives her detailed knowledge on what makes the difference between a fantastic application and one that is turned down.

She had four points to consider when writing an application:

1. Evidence
Work out exactly what the project is; how does it help your business? Does the investment create cost savings, waste reduction or extra employment?

2. Need
Grants are available to support investment that would otherwise not take place – there is no slush fund for “white elephant” projects.

A successful application will illustrate that there is an opportunity to make profits and grow your business. However if you can use hire purchase funding to finance the investment, or if you are lucky enough to already have the cash to pay for it, then you don’t need a grant and are unlikely to be get one.

3. Quantify
When it comes to explaining why the plan you have should be backed by grant funding you’ve got to have more than vague ideas for what the benefits will be. Grant assessors want to see specific proof in terms of: Finance for Food & Drink Businesses Workshop
– what new sales you can generate?
– who will buy your new product or service?
– how much more profit will you make?
– how many jobs will you create as a result?
– what about benefits for your suppliers?
– how do you know all this?

4. Proof
Any successful grant bid is potentially subject to an audit to prove that the grant was spent as described in the application. This means that you need to keep records (or at least notes with your accounts) to be able to provide evidence.

Obviously it is easier to do this while the project is going on, instead of four years later when you’re told about an audit.

In rounding up, Janet stressed that while a successful application took a lot of work and preparation, the benefits of getting 40% (or more) of the cost of your investment back is well worth it.