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How to Take Consumers From 'What's That?' to 'I'll Try It' New businesses face the challenge of first getting products on shelves, then convincing customers to buy it.

By Sean Olson

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


In an age when every product promises to be "buzzworthy" or "innovative," it can be difficult to elevate your brand above the noise and clutter. Here are five best practices for successfully marketing a product that truly stands out from the rest.

Know your market. Understanding who you're marketing to and what's important to them is crucial to the success of your product. To move product on shelves, you need to appeal to your target demographic on multiple levels -- everything from the product itself to packaging will play a role, but if you're unsure of who that is, or are trying to appeal to multiple targets, this can be challenging.

When ips All Natural first got its start, we heavily deliberated the best way to speak to our key audience: the health-conscious consumer looking for a protein-packed snack. We saw ample opportunity to take egg whites, an ingredient that people strongly associate with health and nutrition, and make them accessible and appealing in a snack, with popular and familiar flavors such as Aged White Cheddar and Barbeque.

Related: The Truth About the Cronut Creator's Cookie Shots at SXSW

Embrace your differentiators. Once you know your target market, you'll be tasked with securing retail distribution; differentiation is essential here. Give the retailers a reason to put you on their shelves. Keep in mind they are likely not going to be interested in a product that will cannibalize sales of another current or similar offering. They want something that will entice new buyers and bring them into the category. Worry about that first. Mainstream will come later.

Consumer perception is key. When positioning your product, aim to strike a balance between verbiage that resonates with your target demographic and messaging that upholds your brand identity, which will help unearth the full potential of your product. Surveys and focus groups can also play a part, as they will likely offer additional clarity and direction.

Ultimately, we learned that consumers interested in eating healthier had favorable reactions to an egg white chip, relative to a protein or soy chip. It's an ingredient they recognize and feel good about. But even though we knew consumers were comfortable with the idea of an egg white chip, the concept is still new and unexpected, which is why we sought specific messaging to communicate our differentiators in a positive way.

Related: Fresh Idea: Entrepreneur Puts Salad in a Vending Machine

Create awareness. While we expected the uniqueness of our product to essentially "sell" itself to retailers and consumers, it also proved to be one of our biggest challenges.

Some of the best ways to generate awareness for your product are traditional grassroots efforts, everything from concentrated media relations outreach to widespread sampling at consumer and trade events. At the heart of each of these initiatives, it's imperative again to consider your target market. For us, we identified news outlets, sampling events and like-minded organizations that aligned with our brand tone and messaging. This allowed us to streamline our awareness and activation efforts.

Tell a story. Every brand has a story. It's your job to tell it and tell it well, because chances are, it will speak volumes about what makes your brand different from competitors.

In a time where impersonal machines and mass production reign supreme, we knew consumers would be drawn to the fact that ips was created by a dad in a kitchen, inspired by the eggs he cooked for his kids. Every chance we get, whether it's in earned media coverage or marketing materials, we aim to highlight this aspect of our brand and our company, as it's easily relatable for consumers. So far, it's served us well.

Related: This Startup Just Raised $23 Million Thanks to Wealthiest Man in Asia

Sean Olson is co-founder and CEO of ips All Natural, the world’s first-ever chips made with egg white protein.

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