Vol. 127 - NO. 39

Blog Startup CPG

SINCE 2019

Ask An Agency –
Marketing Experts at Your Fingertips

Part 1 in our new Ask An Agency Series with Proud Startup CPG sponsor, Heart Creative. Have a question for a marketing agency, but not ready to engage one? Find the #topic_marketing channel in our Startup CPG Slack community and ask away!

Mindy here from Heart Creative, where I lead our strategy department in Portland, Oregon. Food brands hire Heart to make their food look beautiful while thoughtfully and effectively engaging their audiences. Our clients change the world everyday and we are continually, relentlessly, and earnestly inspired by them. We are B Corp certified and committed to helping brands make a splash in a way that matters. We are women, people of color, LGBTQ+ folks, immigrants, parents, activists—and we know the importance of a world that is not only just, but fundamentally kind.

Best practices for rallying a team of social media interns around a marketing strategy on a bootstrapped budget?

Anytime I hear the words strategy and bootstrapped in the same sentence, I wonder if folks are getting too worried about fancy analytics dashboards or conducting massive focus groups. The reality is that a group of interns is more than able to scour the internet in an active listening campaign to hear what a core audience is actually saying on social media. They could watch a competitor’s shift in strategy over the last two years. They might better understand the cultural drivers behind a current but seemingly unexplainable food trend by looking at research reports from the Pew Research Center. Ask them to write a one-page high-level report on the biggest trends and their recommendations for how the brand could better engage its audience.

If the interns are vaccinated, they should go to the grocery store, restaurant, or local home kitchen where people in the appropriate target audience are researching, tasting, experiencing, consuming, or cooking with the product in question. Watch the customer; ask them questions; observe their behaviors; notice what the space looks like; how the product is positioned in the space; how the customer uses or engages with the product. Document the behaviors, trends, and make a short-term plan for how to authentically insert the brand into the customer journey.

How to know if TikTok is a fit for your brand?

To know if TikTok is right for your brand, ask yourself these questions: Is your core audience a demographic or psychographic that actively engages on TikTok? Do you have a deep understanding of the playful, fun, quirky ways your product could show up in video? Do you have a creative team with quick video experience that is hyper adept at responding to online, and often silly, trends? Do you like to experiment with new media and put resources behind a test-and-fail approach?

If the answer is a resounding yes to the above questions, you should be calling Heart Creative or another strategy-based creative agency and ask them to build you a strategy and execution plan. To do TikTok well is not for the faint of heart. If you aren’t quite ready, consider working with TikTok influencers who have a strong presence on Instagram as well instead of starting your own TikTok channel.

And planning for experiential marketing to come back bigger and better in 2022?

Customers and brand decision makers alike are all just humans still recovering from the hardest 18-months of their lives. And are very much bracing for the unknowns of what many are calling “The Second Dark Covid Winter” or just “Covid Winter.” Take a moment and acknowledge to your team that any big plans for marketing, experiential or not, should be held loosely.

That said, brands can tentatively plan for experiential marketing in 2022, but should expand their definition of experiential marketing to include VR (virtual reality) and AR (augmented reality) to reach their audiences, global or local, in creative ways. If you do want to do something physical out in the world, consider an outdoor art installation, like a mural, temporary art piece in an urban core, or decorated cars/vans that tour the country in a product promotion.

Another option is to do selective pop-ups in partnership with other local branded retail spaces during off-hours. In Portland, this is a core part of the business model for restaurants and food product companies: they begin with a pop-up (monthly or quarterly) in a popular retail space and a hyper-interactive Instagram strategy; then, after a year or two, they switch to a food-cart in a mobile or stationary location; and, finally, scale up to a brick-and-mortar storefront when the customer demand necessitates it. Pop-ups allow brands to experiment with engaging with the public without making a major investment. We recently met with a local brand who released tickets for their pop-up and sold out in a few hours because of their robust Instagram following.

The key is having a product that actually solves a real problem in people’s lives.

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