You are the first Brand Ambassador for your product.
As founding “Brand Ambassador,” of course you love your food product. You are the living, breathing embodiment of passion for your product. But in talking to any person outside your family – because your family is obligated to love everything you create – you will see the full spectrum from “love to try it” to “what makes your product so special?”
So look at that person that just tasted your product for the first time at a store demo or farmer’s market. By now you know the look they get when they like what they taste. Given a gentle nudge, they may just buy a package. That means your job is done, right?
Your next job is to convert that person to a product fan. When that happens you are on the path to converting your product to a brand for that person. One important ingredient to converting that product to a brand? It needs some loyalists. One goal is to create that repeat buyer which in turn can be elevated to a brand ambassador, which in turn can be elevated to a member of your own private focus group.
Product Fan to Brand Ambassador…to Focus Group? How do we get there?
Start with giving them what they want. Topping the list, of course, are coupons or discounts, then recipes and where to buy. Got an event at a store or farmer’s market? Let them know. Next it helps to build a community around the product and brand: your social media game should be inclusive and two-way. It really helps to lift up a cause your brand supports – we talked about how important that is in our 2018 local food brands trends review.
The first step in brand loyalty? Know why folks like and buy your product. Every time you or someone on your team is giving out samples at a demo, selling at a farmer’s market, you need to ask a few questions. Here are a few to kick things off:
- Like it?
- Why do they like it? /not like it?
- Can you describe the taste…is it spicy/salty/sweet/zesty/tangy/bitter/sour/tell me?
- Would you buy it in a supermarket or online?
- What do you think of the package?
- Does the package make this product look cheap/expensive/homemade/organic/healthy/tell me?
- What am I leaving off the package that would make you want to buy it?
This is also a primer for when you build up your fan base via your web page or Facebook page sign up. Even a few dozen fans signed up is a good start to a loyalty club. I talk about this extensively in chapter 14 of my book: Moving Your Brand Up the Food Chain. Here is an excerpt from pages 164-165 in the book:
Think about all the times you and your team have sat around a conference table product planning. “Do we add a new flavor and, if so, which one?” “Should we change the packaging, and if so, how?” There are probably numerous questions you would like answered before you pull the trigger and invest in a full-blown product launch. Why not ask your loyalty club members through surveys? It can help you answer some of those nagging questions, while also making your loyal customers feel like they are company insiders.
The knowledge, insights, and opinions of your loyalty club members can also be used during your presentations with buyers and retailers. Many of the buyers and retailers I spoke to found it baffling that more manufacturers didn’t do this. Being able to survey your core consumers and then show buyers/retailers the specific comparative benefits of your product makes you stand out as a true expert in your category. Even if a buyer/retailer decides not to partner with you in one instance, your demonstrated commitment and expertise will create a powerful memory.
The NewPoint team has helped dozens of food brands get their loyalty clubs up and running. The payoff for good social interaction with fans is the ownership they start to develop around your brand. When that happens brands are typically will positioned for a new brand ambassador.