Listen to any expert on the subject of marketing, advertising and publicity and they’ll tell you to om nom nom it like the Cookie Monster. Don’t worry, they’ll say, you can never have too much!
Allow BizEngine to offer a dissenting opinion. It turns out you can get too much publicity, and it can have real consequences for your small business.
Take the case of Manitoba Harvest Hemp Foods, which produces hemp butter and other presumably delicious food products loaded up with the stuff normally worn by hippies. This is a company with a loyal customer base and a thriving little market in its native Canada and in the U.S. That all sounds great, right?
Well, here’s where things get interesting. You see, celebrities like Dr. Oz and Oprah are in love with Manitoba Harvest Hemp Products. They regularly mention it on their shows. Great, free publicity…until you realize the consequences.
Every time Dr. Oz touts hemp on TV, Mike Fata panics a little.
The co-founder and chief executive officer of Winnipeg-based Manitoba Harvest Hemp Foods knows the U.S. TV talk show host’s very mention of hemp will send demand for his company’s hemp-based food products through the roof.
That demand has outstripped supply on multiple occasions. That forces the company to work overtime, wheedle their suppliers, look for alternative sources of supplies that may be more expensive (China, anyone?), create disappointed customers when their orders can’t be filled and just generally have to ramp up significantly to try to keep up.
The extra business is great. Don’t get me wrong, soliciting celebrities to endorse your products can be a smart move. Trying to get well-deserved publicity for your award-winning products and services makes a ton of sense, too. But it can turn into a curse if you’re unprepared for the inevitable onslaught of customers or if your business simply isn’t big enough to keep up. Keep this in the back of your mind and have plans on the table for increasing supply if that demand suddenly materializes.
Consider this a cautionary tale. How do you attempt to get publicity, and how do you deal with increased demand?
Photo credit to iStock