What is the right advertising for my brand?

I sell a brand of fruit drinks to the general public and have got my products into a number of stores nationwide. I’m considering an advertising initiative to gain wider attention for my brand, but I‘m not sure how much I should spend and what media I should use.

A. Alysoun Stewart writes:

This is the time to step back and consider longer-term questions. What is your plan for the brand? How many units are you planning to sell, at what price, making what profits, over what timescale?

To grow the brand slowly (and profitably), in the short term it may be worth making personal approaches to on (and off) trade customers rather than advertising. Combining this strategy with competitive pricing and a great product offering may be the best route to market. Once the brand is established and making the required levels of return, advertising can follow.

If you’ve reached this point, the above questions are still valid. Your product should deliver a desirable offering to consumers while making acceptable profits to the trade at the correct rate of sale. Assuming these criteria are met, and you’ve reached the point where you need to target a wider audience, I would first concentrate on marketing to the trade. There is no point stimulating consumer demand when there are insufficient outlets to buy the drinks.

The next choice is to build distribution rapidly through larger chains (at lower margins) or to take an incremental approach. If your business plan can stand the latter, then take that route so you have a positive sales story to deliver to the big groups, enabling you, hopefully, to retain more margin for your business.

Advertising in key trade journals is a good way to start your trade marketing. Small ads are a false economy, but negotiate over fees – planning a series can help. A marketing agency can help with buying advertising, but remember to negotiate hard on fees and test whether they can buy the ads cheaper than you. Decide whether the product will need point-of-sale material or an introductory offer to boost initial sales and build these costs into your margin negotiations with customers.

So, build distribution first and advertise and promote the brand at outlet level to ensure acceptable rates of sale. Once this is done, there will be time for consumer advertising in its various forms. Finally, if your business plan can support a staged approach, you will not waste money by advertising too early and should stand a better chance of a more profi table longterm outlook.

Alysoun Stewart is director of commercial and strategic services at Grant Thornton, the leading global accounting, tax and business advisory firm. www.grant-thornton.co.uk


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