Each week, we seek out expert advice to help a small or medium-sized firm overcome a key issue.
David Marcus sells five cases of his David's Condiments products each Saturday and Sunday when he gives live demonstrations at grocery stores and cooking events. He makes $500 in sales a day doing so, and it is by far the best method of marketing his goods, which are all-natural, no-salt-added barbecue sauce and rubs.
He wants to have more demonstrations to increase sales, but has found that customers respond only to him. "If there was only more of me to go around, I could be doing much more business," he says.
Mr. Marcus, who is based in Toronto, makes a connection with customers by discussing how his products emerged because of family health trauma, and describing how he carefully created foods that were tasty as well as healthy. Detailing the company's altruistic initiatives – a portion of sales goes toward nutritional education programs for heart patients leaving hospitals – also convinces onlookers to become customers, Mr. Marcus says.
His challenge is finding a way to make himself more accessible to more venues or finding sales people who will resonate with consumers the way he does.
"If I could find someone who could sell even half the cases that I sell in a day, the revenue increase would be dramatic," he says.
David's Condiments is available nationally at grocery stores and has annual sales of more than $600,000.
Mr. Marcus started the company three years ago after his father-in-law suffered a heart attack and needed to change his diet. Mr. Marcus and his wife, Erin, who is a chef, made food that was in line with his father's postsurgery dietary requirements. The all-natural foods turned out to be a hit with friends as well, and after early batches consistently sold out at local retail stores, Mr. Marcus left his job in information technology retail consulting to focus on David's Condiments.
"I have to maintain the highest standard possible, both in the product and in the marketing of it. That means I have to be there to do these demos," the entrepreneur says. "These in-store presentations are by far the most powerful marketing tool out there, I've found."
Mr. Marcus's goal is to find sales people who can promote his products with the same passion and level of success as he does. Or, he needs a way for his message to be in multiple places at once.
THE CHALLENGE: How do you clone yourself if you are the face of your brand?
THE EXPERTS WEIGH IN
Naomi Strasser, president of the public relations firm Aerial Communications Group, Toronto
The decision to use a portion of the proceeds to create education programs for patients undergoing a postcardiac regimen is interesting. First, I would build out that program and make it more interactive for the consumer by explaining how the proceeds are used, and give them access to the materials.
Many of the retailers he sells to have nutritionists on staff that provide wellness tips to consumers. Aligning with these nutritionists would give credibility to the products, provide objective third-party recommendations via their strong distribution channels and allow him to focus on running the business as opposed to being the sole face of it.
A celebrity endorser who genuinely likes and believes in the product would be equally effective as David. There are many who support heart-healthy programs, or have had personal or familial experience with heart disease. Identifying and hiring someone to champion David's Condiments would raise awareness, and the retailers would likely respond positively with increased distribution.
Nigel Da Costa, founder and publisher, Health Media Today, a network of health and wellness websites, Toronto
David has created a brand that revolves around his name and face. This isn't a bad thing, but when trying to grow sales and distribution it can sometimes hinder initial growth as people may expect to see him pushing his product.
Since David can't clone himself, he needs to build a "one to many" sales strategy. He should engage passionate food bloggers with large readerships and social media followings. Working with bloggers to demonstrate the superior quality and taste of his products can hopefully turn these bloggers into brand ambassadors – and the sales force he's been looking for.
If David can influence the influencers, he will be on the right path.
Richard Dalton, owner of Your Score Booster SAT Classes and Tutoring, Vancouver
David needs to find people who love to cook – and sell products. He should have potential sales people prepare some recipes with David's Condiments and explain why the condiments are the best on the market. If they can speak as convincingly as David, they're hired.
I offer customers my own creation: the Dalton Method of SAT preparation. When I interview potential tutors who already had achieved high SAT scores, I look for those who genuinely get excited about how the Dalton Method could have helped them do even better.
If David can identify that same enthusiasm in potential sales people for his unique products, he's on his way to expansion.
THREE THINGS THE COMPANY COULD DO NOW
Hire a star
Seek a celebrity endorser who loves your product and can connect with people and raise awareness.
Enlist influential bloggers and social media experts to become brand ambassadors.
Look for culinary expertise
Recruit enthusiastic sales people who love to cook and can sell products.
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Interviews have been edited and condensed.