Snack on This
Food brings people together. From preschool snack times to family dinners to weekly taco truck visits with colleagues, it serves as the centerpiece of most day-to-day activities—helping to create new memories, new favorites and plenty of Instagram pictures.
With food such an integral part of our lives, it seems like edible promotions should sell themselves. Sadly, that’s not the case.
Looking for ways to make edibles jump off the proverbial shelves? Turn to the guidance of four industry experts: Brandon Strong, business development manager of Chocolate Chocolate, Blaine, Wash.; Jeff DePalma, vice president of sales for Chocolate Inn/Taylor & Grant, Freeport, N.Y.; Tom Riordan, president of Maple Ridge Farms Inc., Mosinee, Wis.; and Trent Lowe, corporate sales manager for Mrs. Fields Gifts, Salt Lake City. Soon, your edibles will be selling like hotcakes.
1. Be proactive
As lucrative as edibles can be, many companies are missing opportunities to sell. Why? “Distributors are typecast. Clients think of them for promotional products, not food gifts,” Riordan said, noting end-buyers rarely reach for edibles on their own.
“[End-buyers] are inundated with emails and food gift catalogs from Labor Day through Thanksgiving, and they naturally think of those giant food gift companies first,” Riordan explained. It’s up to the distributor to be proactive—to let the end-buyer know they offer edibles, and explain why they are best for the job.
Once end-buyers know you offer edibles, win them over by appealing to convenience, DePalma said. Think of a party where someone must plan the details, including how to feed the attendees. “For the sake of convenience, I would have much rather purchased these items from the same source as my other products than be burdened by having to go and purchase these items in bulk to hand out,” said DePalma.
Looking for other ways to broach the topic with clients? Take a tip from Riordan, whose company puts together a presentation covering the benefits of purchasing edibles from distributors. “We customize this storyboard presentation for each account executive, and they can easily email it to their clients as a way of beginning the food gift discussion.”
2. Know your client—and their objective
Your clients need to know you sell edibles—but you also need to know your client in order to pitch the best product for them, and how to wow them with the power of a successful edible.
For Riordan, six types of businesses—banks, financial service companies, insurance companies, hospitals, medical equipment and service companies, and construction-related companies—make up more than 50 percent of orders. Each type has specific preferences, said Riordan, suggesting that insurance companies tend toward edibles that include desk accessories, like a pencil cup.
The education market is another prime seller, specifically when it comes to recruitment and student-based events. “Nothing attracts the younger generation more than edible products,” said DePalma. A need for referral gift programs, birthday gift programs and lobby candy also make small businesses edibles-friendly.
“The key to a successful promotion is true thought about what it should accomplish, and focusing on what it will say about the sender,” said Strong. Use your understanding of the client and their goals to offer an edible that fits their mission so well, they can’t turn you down.
3. Send samples
A common misconception, according to both Riordan and DePalma, is that edibles produced in the promotional products industry aren’t retail quality.
Counter this objection with a simple and delicious solution—samples. Edible samples kick your sales tactics up a notch—showcasing your product’s freshness, taste and potential for branding. For the one-two punch, Riordan recommended sending a spec sample.
4. Appeal to the senses
The smell of chocolate chip cookies alone can make people happy. Now imagine people eating those cookies and associating them with your client’s brand. With edibles, companies have the unique opportunity to engage all five of an end-user’s senses to create brand awareness that lasts, according to Strong and DePalma.
“Science dictates that as you add more physical senses to an experience, you are more likely to remember,” said DePalma. “When you think of the tradeshow you just walked, you instantly remember those cookies you got at the booth—and then subsequently what you spoke about.”
Bust the myth that once you eat or drink the edible, the branding is gone. Edibles make an instant, rooted impression. Due to such sensory interaction, Strong noted, the edible will make an impact more than another product that someone may see often, but never think about.
5. Use the whole product
Yes, an edible is a promotional product, but that shouldn’t limit you. “Sell something different,” said Lowe. Edibles provide the rare opportunity to turn the entire product into a marketing tool.
Whether it’s cookies, chocolate buttons or gumballs, customization directly on the product is key, according to Lowe. “Customers are recognizing the impact that imprinted or personalized candies can provide from a marketing perspective,” DePalma agreed.
Let clients take full advantage of the space—from the packaging to the edible itself. “Giving the marketer the ability to offer multiple imprints within one package … offers them the ability to really drive home multiple messages.”
“A well-made food product that combines branding is useable in every single industry and purpose,” said Strong. From sales meetings to concession stands, there’s no event or industry that won’t appreciate free food—and as a result, no audience that won’t have access to your client’s message. “We recognize that our products are carefully designed marketing products with an objective, and we just happen to use Belgian chocolate to deliver the message,” Strong said.