Achieving Shelf Space…Smartly

Now what...what do I do next? My brand is created, my products are developed, with tender loving care. There's a process, and there it is. Entrepreneurs lend us your ear.

By Judy Deuchar, Head of Merchandising/Programming at TVSN

So you have this brand/product that you love like your own child and you feel you have been working 24/7 to get attention. You have invested lots of money and time in packaging, typing up posts, sharing the products with friends, meeting with retailers and distributors and you feel you are still not getting any traction. What do you do next?

This is a difficult stage or stumbling block for many new as well as well established brands. Be assured it’s a painful, but a really worthwhile phase of the growth of your brand.

Some quick check points – and be brutally honest with yourself and your team:

  • Are you actually staying true to your brand story? The 5 key defining brand story points?
  • Has all your attention been targeting your core customer?
  • Are all your platforms aligned?
  • When last did you go back to your original AHA for your brand or hero product?
  • Are you possibly suffering from a bit of ‘me too’?

(This holds true for a new product launch, a new campaign, or a new brand launch – for a one-person start up to an established team)

01 ARE YOU ACTUALLY STAYING TRUE TO YOUR BRAND STORY? THE 5 KEY DEFINING BRAND STORY POINTS?

Many a time brands get derailed or slightly off track when perusing a marketing method or strategy which is not congruent with their brand, yet seemingly ‘the right thing to do’. You sent out your last product launch and press release in a jiffy bag, yet one of your key points of your story was that your brand was ‘dynamic’ – was that presentation dynamic? Have you been spending all your marketing money and time and effort on Instagram? Yet your product is for salon spa use and for the 50 plus customer? Perhaps look at more relevant marketing avenues. Think of the way in which you are pitching your product? Presentation, social media and press releases. If your brand is Bondi cool tanning – your imagery is fast, fun, sun, easy to use – then make sure your presentation portrays all of these – your core values. You would not go into a meeting then looking conservative and no tan. All these subtle cues make a difference in representing your brand, especially as a primary owner/investor.

02 HAS ALL YOUR ATTENTION BEEN TARGETING YOUR CORE CUSTOMER?

Always good to reconfirm who your customer is (and isn’t). We can often get side tracked here. We see a wonderful campaign from a colleague or another brand in field and you jump on the proverbial band wagon. For example, an anti-ageing skincare line employing an influencer strong in the millennial arena to help market the product. No matter how wonderful the influencer, the target market and age profile may not be aligned with the target market of the brand. You spend a fortune on a press launch for a young and sassy new lipstick brand – yet your press event is held in a very traditional conservative space. A recent Canadian brand I have worked with for years – traditional, reliable, safe in nature and loved for these qualities, employed a new brand ambassador. The outgoing brand ambassador had worked with the brand for many years, was a Canadian, trusted by all and had personal stories of the brand’s creation. The new ambassador, whilst very lovely and photogenic, was Brazilian, young and vivacious, and spoke gushingly about the brand. All seemingly good on paper – however the brand forgot its audience. They were not easily trusting of change, and preferred tried and tested, authenticity of the brand.

03 ARE ALL YOUR PLATFORMS ALIGNED?

As we chase the sales and brand expansion, be careful to ensure your platforms all move ahead at the same speed – at least in the look and feel. I appreciate not all can be invested in at the same time. However it’s better to take your Amazon account down, than to have a half-baked version up on the website, not matching your brand style guide or essence. Ensuring your social media platforms – including all avenues – such as Pinterest, Facebook and Instagram look similar to your website, printed media and packaging. No use having your Instagram site looking all hip and happening and your website is far more conservative – and vice versa. Your customer personality needs to be top of mind in all voice and creative. Ensure verbage is similar to what you would use in your pitch to a retailer. Be authentic – do not change for the sake of change. This splinters your message and dilutes the brand voice.

04 WHEN LAST DID YOU GO BACK TO YOUR ORIGINAL AHA MOMENT FOR YOUR BRAND OR HERO PRODUCT?

Now most brands start off with a hero product. Remember when you first thought of it, produced it, remember those first comments from your best friend? The first AHA moment you had? When last did you go back to those raw, true core strengths for your brand? Perhaps its time to revisit your hero product and finding a revised way of marketing that – rather than spinning off in too many directions. A current example is a homeware brand I have been working with – they have a wonderful room scent they have been working on – the delivery system is very unique and not seen anywhere before. However they had another delivery system idea to further help spread the fragrance within the room. It was a very clever unique idea – and they spent a long time writing up pitches and developing mood boards for this secondary function as it was so novel. They got no real commitment from the homeware retailers in the US. They got so excited about spreading the secondary delivery method, they forgot their original idea was unique and novel. They had spent so much time mulling over pitches, that they lost perspective. They went back to the original idea, pitched it and it launches this autumn in US department stores, with the secondary add-on delivery system on hold until they get more traction. Go back to basics – remember why you and others fell in love with your original idea.

05 ARE YOU POSSIBLY SUFFERING FROM A BIT OF ‘ME TOO’?

Now most brands start off with a hero product. Remember when you first thought of it, produced it, remember those first comments from your best friend? The first AHA moment you had? When last did you go back to those raw, true core strengths for your brand? Perhaps its time to revisit your hero product and finding a revised way of marketing that – rather than spinning off in too many directions. A current example is a homeware brand I have been working with – they have a wonderful room scent they have been working on – the delivery system is very unique and not seen anywhere before. However they had another delivery system idea to further help spread the fragrance within the room. It was a very clever unique idea – and they spent a long time writing up pitches and developing mood boards for this secondary function as it was so novel. They got no real commitment from the homeware retailers in the US. They got so excited about spreading the secondarydelivery method, they forgot their original idea was unique and novel. They had spent so much time mulling over pitches, that they lost perspective. They went back to the original idea, pitched it and it launches this autumn in US department stores, with the secondary add-on delivery system on hold until they get more traction. Go back to basics – remember why you and others fell in love with your original idea.

And finally…

Now if you have read the above and feel you have ticked all these boxes honestly – then maybe it’s time to just move on. Have a serious sit down with people who know you/your business and evaluate if your product is still valid? Are you still playing on the fact your idea is new and revolutionary when in fact too many others are beating that same drum? Just being organic, just being antiageing for the busy working woman today, easy application no smell tanning – all these are lovely – but not new anymore – you need to have a REAL hook – something unique to get noticed in the ever crowded arena of beauty. In this changing world – be personal – be true to why you started your brand and why you are so invested. Are you really innovative? Ask yourself the tough questions.

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