Salty snacks and a good drink go hand in hand, but what happens when you combine the two? That’s how Kim Goethe, owner of BarCode by Hollywood, started her business.
“I’ve grown my popcorn following by being credible on my personal page. That’s where I started growing my brand as a cook,” Kim said.
Her background as a certified mixologist led her to the popcorn business. After a friend sent her a link to a recipe for boozy gummies, Kim was inspired to create a boozy treat of her own. She settled on popcorn because it was unique, and BarCode by Hollywood was started. Eventually, she began making non-infused popcorn to expand her customer base.
“Before launch, I reached out to local small business owners in Atlanta and asked them to share my business page,” Kim said. “I gave out free samples and asked for reviews from customers in exchange. I created unique flyers to share, and I even had my daughter make an Instagram reel for me, because Instagram likes when you use other people in your videos.”
“I don’t have a marketing background,” Kim said. “I used YouTube and learned from other creators on Instagram. I love using trending sounds and music to tell a story. On my personal Instagram page, I started a series called Mixed Emotions, which is where I found my love for experimenting with marketing. I tell a story while also mixing a drink, and I tie the drink’s theme into the story I’m telling.”
After a successful launch using her Castiron store, we asked Kim for tips to help other culinary artisans build and grow their businesses online. Keep reading for her marketing tips for independent food businesses.
Set a launch date and stick with it
Kim published her launch date on social media well ahead of time — 20 days, to be exact. By sharing her launch date ahead of time, she not only built hype around the business, she also held herself to a specific launch date.
“I chose September 22 because 1922 was the founding year for my sorority,” Kim said.
If your launch date has a special meaning, consider including details about its meaning in your marketing before launch. This is a chance for your customers to get to know you as a small business owner, so share relevant information about yourself, your business, and why you’re passionate about what you do.
Friends and family are your best marketers
“A billboard or TV commercial is too expensive,” Kim said. “Maybe someday I’ll be able to do that!”
“A friend of mine brought some of my popcorn on a brewery tour one weekend. She shared it with other people who were also on the tour, and they went crazy for it,” Kim said.
“People loved it. I probably got ten sales from that day, and I wasn’t even the one there talking about my products.”
If you’re launching a new business, don’t be afraid to ask your friends and family to spread the word. Ask them to share an Instagram story or a Facebook post about your business launch, or encourage them to bring your products to their next event.
Don’t wait until launch day to start marketing
If you were opening a brick and mortar store, you wouldn’t wait until the grand opening to let people know that you’re open, would you?
You can apply the same principle to launching an online food business. Kim was active on social media, promoting BarCode by Hollywood well in advance of her online store’s launch. To promote her business, she used her personal Instagram account to drive potential customers to her business’ Instagram page.
Each post that she shared included a link to her store on Castiron. Before her store officially opened for business, she used her Castiron link to build a list of email subscribers that she would notify on launch day.
Wondering what to post before your store launches? Take a page out of Kim’s playbook:
- Share product teasers and menu item previews
- Showcase your ingredients to show your customers what makes your products special
- Introduce yourself — remind your customers that they’re buying from an independent business, not a big box store!
- Use templates from free design websites like Canva to create countdown graphics, quote graphics featuring your early customers, or to encourage customers to sign up for your email list
Be consistent on social media
Before she opened BarCode by Hollywood for business, Kim posted daily reminders on Instagram to get her followers excited for launch. In the seven days prior to her launch date, she posted three times per day.
“People scroll so fast on Instagram, so I knew I had to do something different to catch their attention,” Kim said.
“I wanted to prepare and grow my audience before launching. I think that posting daily lets my followers know that I’m consistent, both on the business side of things and with my products,” Kim said. “I let them know how many days there were until launch, which helped prove that I’m serious about my business — that this is a real thing, a big deal.”
Consistency helped Kim grow her customer list before she ever had a product to sell. BarCode by Hollywood’s Instagram following grew to more than 250 before launch.
Use coupons to incentivize purchases
90% of customers use coupons. Coupons can be used to encourage customers to make a purchase, especially if they’re new to your business. Kim created a custom 10% off coupon for new email list subscribers, which she limited to the first 25 new sign ups. By limiting the number of coupons available, she created a sense of urgency and grew her email list even faster.
Celebrate success and go behind the scenes
Launch day was just the beginning of Kim’s social media launch strategy. She took customers behind the scenes, sharing videos of her packaging products and preparing them for shipping.
Not only was this a chance for her to show off her unique packaging, it also showed her followers that customers were making purchases. By showing the bags and bags of popcorn that she was preparing to ship to customers, Kim created a sense of FOMO — if her customers wanted a certain flavor, they needed to purchase it soon or risk it selling out.
Include a call to action in every post
What do you want your customers to do when they see a post from your business on social media?
Kim made that very clear to her customers. When they scrolled past an Instagram post from BarCode by Hollywood, a reminder to visit her store link was included in every caption. These calls to action tell your customers exactly what they need to do to make a purchase from your food business.
Marketing is an important part of growing any business. Follow Kim’s lead to make a splash on launch day!