SFA’s October Virtual Share Group: Building Connections And Expanding Reach

Erika Sipos
Twenty members gathered online on October 6 to participate in the SFA’s third Virtual Share Group. Expanding buyers and awareness, exploring new channels, and fourth-quarter planning dominated discussion topics, as participants shared advice for adapting to the current business environment. Here are eight tips that emerged from the conversation:
  1. Invest in telling your story. Whether on your own site or presence on other platforms like Amazon, Brandwide, or Zulily, consumers want to know about your company. Highlight efforts during the pandemic and ways your company behaves responsibly to connect to consumers in more meaningful ways.
  2. Get creative with outreach. Some members are creating specific newsletters and fliers, to attract new buyers. 
  3. Reduce sample sizes. With people largely working from home, some members recommend developing sample-size packaging to better send to targeted and interested buyers and alleviate shipping costs.
  4. Explore new channels. Now may be the time to consider introducing your brand to new audiences, such as Walmart.
  5. Plan and manage inventory. To ready for fourth-quarter, members advise ramping up on availability so you have stock to fulfill and ship orders. 
  6. Adjust store placement strategy. One member shared his story of having to cut SKUs because of shrinking shelf space and difficulty in getting his product into stores. His advice is to work up to having your product in one store, then five, then 30, then 50, then 100. Once you hit 100 stores, it gets easier, but there isn’t a shortcut, he cautioned. 
  7. Experiment with influencers. Companies are testing ways to get the word out about their products. One company found that using influencers when they went live in March drove a bit of awareness but not a lot of sales. They’ve had better luck finding media who want to cover their brand and story.
  8. Build grass roots marketing. One company participated in the Golden Globes “swag bag” and received a testimonial from an actor in the movie, “12 Years a Slave.” She is a believer in grass roots initiatives to build the momentum of a product. 

Members also shared excitement and success stories around Specialty Food Live!, the SFA’s recent virtual marketplace event, and expressed interest in future events as well as plans to upgrade the SFA’s online Product Marketplace. Look for more information on these programs and additional Virtual Share Groups, coming soon.

Share Group participants and other SFA members are encouraged to keep the conversation going here on the Solution Center. Participate in the Q&A here.
Posted by Denise Purcell on Oct 20, 2020 3:30 PM America/New_York