Scott SandersCPG/food strategy, sales, marketing, pricing

Scott Sanders helps mid-market food/beverage/CPG brands compete using data & analytics to punch above their weight and have an unfair advantage against giants. Sanders was previously Head of Growth, Data & Analytics at Keto and Co and held consulting roles where he worked on analytics-driven strategy, price-pack architecture, and advised companies on sales, investor pitches, and R&D. He co-owned Bosco Chocolate Syrup, his family's business, and held sales agency/broker roles (Acosta, MPG) serving Fortune 500 and private-equity backed companies.

Recent Answers

To start, it sounds like you are seeking a few people to validate your product concept and provide feedback on your direction. If that's the case, you may want to browse LinkedIn and reach out directly to the founders of some brands you know and personally use. Mentioning that personal connection will go a long way to getting a response.

Once you get beyond that initial phase and you want to start scaling, that's another story. Are you targeting DTC, grocery, or foodservice (restaurant) brands? There are trade associations that could get you a good start, depending on which segment you're aiming to target.

In terms of an email format that works, trial and error -- along with careful measurement -- might be your best approach. Try some different formats and see what resonates with your audience. Keep in mind that you're likely reaching out to people who hear a LOT of sales pitches, so keep in mind the abbreviation WIIFM (What's In It For Me, where me=your prospective client) -- and shorter is almost always better. Your goal in sending an email is to schedule a meeting, not tell the entire story of your offering.

I'd be happy to talk in more detail if you'd like to schedule a call.

@Stuart Briscar is right: RangeMe handles this function well. Its parent company, ECRM, also hosts what they call EPPS (Efficient Program Planning Sessions) trade shows, but which are really speed dating sessions with retail buyers.

There have been some others who have tried similar concepts, but the big impediment for a new player is getting a large enough audience on both the buying and selling sides. ECRM has been doing this long enough that they have a significant head start in amassing an audience.

I want to answer your questions, but the truth is that I don't know -- nor should anyone else who sees these questions.

Without knowing your product more specifically, it's impossible to give you good answers. And even if I knew what your specific product is, I would be highly reluctant to give you answers without research on what consumers think.

Several years ago, I conducted research for a $1B+ snacking brand. Their team was sure they understood answers to questions very similar to yours. (After all, they are good questions.) My team and I set out to understand their consumers from the ground up, assuming that we didn't know anything. And the results shattered their understanding of how consumers actually used their products, leading to dramatic shifts in their positioning and product development.

You're smart to think about aligning your marketing efforts to your consumers' usage. To do that, it's worth investing in research to understand exactly how your consumers do interact with your products.

Stephan Schiffman's Cold Calling Techniques is one of the most practical sales books I've read. He has written many others, too.

Dan Pink's To Sell is Human is excellent, too. It takes a non-traditional look at selling and helps understand some of its psychology.

Beyond that, I don't have a lot of specifics. There are many sales methodologies out there, and you should use one. It's not important which one you use -- just that you do adopt one.

There are survey research firms with consumer panels that target medical conditions. There are many such companies, and I'd suggest reaching out to several to get competitive bids -- both on price and quality of respondents. You might even want to ask them to launch a test survey to understand the incidence rate in their panel, even after they deploy to a targeted group of panelists. It will be expensive, though.

I've had good experiences working with Survey Sampling (SSI) and Harris Interactive in the past. There are dozens if not hundreds of others. Some are listed here:

I'd be happy to talk about the process - or create an RFP to send to research firms and evaluate the responses.

Good luck!

You may want to talk to a Certified Marketing Representative (CMR), which is an agency or broker authorized to place yellow page advertising across many directories. I used such a service many years ago (pre-Internet) and found the advice to be valuable and rates to be lower. They should be able to offer some good advice -- but will definitely be biased toward actually selling you ads. A conversation may offer you some good points of information one way or the other.

My family and I own a fourth-generation syrup manufacturing business, and I can directly help you with this question if you'd like to move to a more industrial process. Glad to discuss further if I can be helpful.

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