The food industry is highly seasonal, dictated by trends, occasions, the weather, and of course, what foods are actually in season. And the ever-growing demand for fresh produce and great flavors has gotten food industries constantly expanding their markets. The rapid changes in season and trends, coupled with intermittent demand require food manufacturers and businesses to always be two steps ahead, forecasting and preparing to meet the needs of their varying customers.
I always talk about the month of September as the start of your 100-day mark to prepare your sales and marketing engine. This is the time when you make your last push to meet your annual sales goals. “Ber”-months almost always are your biggest selling period of the year, so this is your time to think of different strategies that would help you and your business thrive in the coming year ahead.
In Episode 32, I will be bringing you along with me as I discuss the three practical and efficient ways that you can prepare yourself and your business towards the end of the year as a food brand or entrepreneur. I will be sharing why this 100-day sprint is crucial to every food business’ sales and marketing flow and success, and how important having a budget is when it comes to preppin’ for business. I’ll also dive into how planning, goal-setting, and formulating your business strategies will help you kickstart the year.
Together let’s accomplish those goals and make it to the finish line of the 100-day sprint. Fulfill those big sales and survive the holidays while still avoiding the path of burnout. Listen to Episode 32 to learn more!
Virginia Foodie Essentials:
The autumnal equinox marks the beginning of the last 100 days of the year.
When you set aside your future plans and only focus on putting out the fires caused by holiday orders, you run the risk of going MIA on your sales prospects.
You need to set aside time to project next year’s sales goals and map out a plan of how you intend to reach them.
The 100-day marker is a great time to take a look at what you already have in your pipeline, do some outreach, and set reminders for any follow-up actions you need to take in the coming weeks.
We should try to break that feast or famine cycle of sales rushing.
Make a date with yourself for planning, and take note of the things you need to accomplish in the next calendar year.
Prepare all of your holiday promotions, marketing materials, and social media assets by mid-October to start humming them along in November.
Look at what you want to happen in Q1 next year, and list the action steps you need to take in Q4 to make next year’s first-quarter goals a reality.
Key Points From This Episode:
Great flavors during the holidays are opportunities for food brands
September 22nd marks the beginning of the last 100 days of the year
“The 100-day sprint” as the time to make your last push to meet your annual sales goals
Setting time to plan your sales goals
The risk of being unavailable on your sales prospects
3 Practical ways to celebrate your 100 day-versary
Have a planning date for the next calendar year
Creating a timeline for your goals and sales
Having commitment on your calendar helps you stay focused on growing your business
Avoid getting exhausted from the holidays and keeping your energy for the start of the new year
Other Resources Mentioned:
Follow The Virginia Foodie here:
Click Here for Full Transcript:
“The hundred-day marker is a great time to take a look at what you have in your pipeline.”
[0:00] Georgiana Dearing: I'm putting pen to paper and working my way through the three things: planning next year, mapping out my holiday marketing for this year, and then putting my action steps for Q1 sales on my calendar so I don't lose sight of them. What will you do to mark the start of your hundred-day sprint to this year's finish line?
[0:22] Georgiana Dearing: Welcome to The Virginia Foodie Podcast, where we lift the lid on the craft food industry and tell the stories behind the good food, good people, and good brands that you know and love. If you've ever come across a yummy food brand and wondered, “How did they do that? How do they turn that recipe into a successful business?” Then we've got some stories for you.
[0:48] Georgiana Dearing: Hi, Foodie Folk. It's the middle of September 2021. And for us, it's another Marketing Monday. I don't know about you, but I'm always happy to see the return of fall. I'm coming to you from the very Northern part of Virginia. And up here, we get solid four seasons. I love them all, but there's something about Fall and the turning of the leaves and the snap in the air that always puts a spring in my step.
And for the food industry, there's a definite turn to seasonal flavors. Sure, pumpkin spice has grown to own this season. But there are lots of other great flavors and holiday treats that offer food brands great opportunities for line expansion and limited runs. The Autumnal Equinox also signals another business marker for me. September 22nd marks the beginning of the last 100 days of the year. I first started thinking about this marker when I heard Blair Enns, the author of Win Without Pitching refer to this time as the 100-day sprint. The time when you make your last push to meet your annual sales goals. For many specialty food brands, Q4 is the biggest selling period of the year. Coming out of summer, folks move indoors and the fall brings more gatherings, more social events. And Halloween marks the beginning of the season of parties rounded out by lots and lots of holiday gift-giving.
In my world as a service provider to manufacturers, that last quarter also signals an uptick in sales. Many of my corporate clients live in a user or lose budget cycle. And Q4 is often a rush to use up remaining funds before the fiscal year closes. Most marketing departments have budgets set as a certain percentage of prior year sales. And they are busy creating next year's budget right around the turn of Q3-Q4. That's right now in this hundred-day window.
Then that period between November and December is always a mad dash to get deadlines met, so invoicing can happen before everyone shuts down for Christmas. Your small business may not have that same model for your sales and marketing engine. But right now, in September, those hundred days are just beginning. And this slight calm before the storm of holiday sales is the right time to start thinking about next year.
[3:10] Yes, I said next year. For the last few years, I've marked these last 100 days in my own business by doing just that. I set aside time to project next year's sales goals and map out a plan of how I intend to reach them. I know the temptation is to hold off until that slowdown after Christmas. I've been on the receiving end of that strategy. Countless contacts disappear on me about the first week of November, only to surface for air around mid-January. And I get the psychology in play here.
You know that the big rush is coming so you hunker down, you push your production cycles into high gear, stack up for the holiday sales, and then just churn your way through order fulfillment until all the stockings around the chimney are full. Then you settled down for a long, or more likely, short winter's nap. I'm mixing my fictional references here. But there's a bit of Scarlet O'Hara and "the I'll think about it in January" approach. The hitch in waiting to think about next year until you're in next year is that business as usual is still churning along right beside your push for fulfilling big sales. Just like I mentioned that I have clients who will go missing action in November. When you set aside your future plans and only focus on putting out the fires caused by holiday orders, you run the risk of going MIA on your sales prospects too.
[4:37] The hundred-day marker is a great time to take a look at what you have in your pipeline. Do some outreach and set reminders for any follow-up actions you need to take in the coming weeks. When you are a deep into your busiest season is way easier to follow a list of to-do items than it is to dig around and try to find the last contact you had with a prospect particularly if you have seasonal products or gifts item. If you spent any time on RangeMe, checking out the submission schedule of the big-name retailers, you'll see that most seasonal research is taking place in the weeks around the actual seasonal holiday or selling trend.
New brands get super excited over this thinking that holiday category reviews are for the current year. But it takes six to nine months to close a retail account. And those seasonal submissions are for next year's holiday season, not the one you're running around trying to fulfill right now. If you aren't heading into the holidays with a plan for next year's sales, you're going to miss being included in the lineup for next year's holiday season. So here are some practical ways to celebrate your hundred day-versary. You like that? I'm coining a new phrase here.
[5:51] First, make a date with yourself for planning. I do. I block a day to look at the prior 12 months and make a plan for what I hope to accomplish in the next calendar year. We usually take weeks of vacation in mid-September, and I use that space to unwind and let my mind wander through the good and the bad of my work. I come back refreshed, and I use my planning day to do just that. Make a new plan for next year.
[6:16] Then after you sketched out next year, take a look at the calendar for the remainder of the current year. If you haven't done a little Christmas campaign planning yet, then get to it. If you're in any of my coaching sessions this summer, then we already talked about Christmas in July. The timeline we mapped out then is to have all your holiday promotions, marketing materials, and social media assets wrapped up by mid-October so your marketing machine can just start humming along in November. So if you haven't done it yet, use this hundred day-versary to get those campaigns in motion. Now, you have a plan for next year and a roadmap to get you through to the end of this year.
[6:57] The last step is to take a look at next year's plan. Look what you wanted to happen in Q1 next year and list the action steps you need to take in Q4 to make next year's first-quarter goals a reality. And that includes following up with those prospects that you have in your pipeline right now. Then, work those to-do items right into your calendar. Literally, put them on your calendar. Know the submission dates for your category. Follow up with that distributor. Map out your four e-mails that you plan to send to new prospects. You know that it's going to get crazy. But having a commitment on your calendar helps you stay focused on growing your business and not just surviving the holidays. Sure, you might need to move that phone call from Monday to Wednesday, but you won't be moving it from Monday to February. Or not at all, because so much time passed, you feel sheepish reaching out. I've been there, I've done that, and I learned to get over it and make that call anyway.
What we're trying to do here is to break that feast or famine cycle of sales. Rushing through the holidays in a panic dropping down exhausted in January, and then you raise your head and look around. And what was I doing? It certainly doesn't feel good. And it's a sure path to burn out too.
[8:21] This year, my planning date is September 24th. I've blocked my calendar so I won't take any meetings, and I've already got a bulleted list of what I want to look at on that day. I'm putting pen to paper and working my way through the three things: planning next year, mapping out my holiday marketing for this year, and then putting my action steps for Q1 sales on my calendar so I don't lose sight of them. What will you do to mark the start of your hundred-day sprint to this year's finish line? I want to know. If you aren't sure where to start, just think back to last year and pick one thing you wish you'd done or done better in Q4 of last year. Put your action steps for that improvement on your calendar. And then tell me what you're working on. We can hold each other accountable. And that's the end of this Marketing Monday. So on your marks, get set, go sprint.
[9:15] Georgiana Dearing: Thanks for listening. And if you want to learn more about how to grow your own food brand, then click on Grow My Brand at vafoodie.com. If you're a lover of local food, then be sure to follow us. We're @vafoodie on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Join the conversation and tell us about your adventures with good food, good people, and good brands.