Monday 5 December 2016

'Product development came naturally - but marketing the product was a learning curve...'

Keith Symes, Director, Wicklow Rapeseed Oil

Published 14/08/2016 | 02:30

Keith Symes
Keith Symes

Growing up, I was camera shy. Having a slight stammer kept me away from the spotlight. I certainly never imagined myself being live on the radio, talking on the main stage at Bloom, having my picture in national newspapers and all over the internet on social media.

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Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat . . . none of these played a big part in my life - until November 2013, so this has been a huge change in my lifestyle.

My Local Enterprise Office in Wicklow was excellent. They provided me with a mentor and 'start your own business' and 'food academy' courses.

I believe it's essential for every start-up to call on their Local Enterprise Office resources. They are the backbone of any start-up and will ensure you are on the road to success. It's important before anybody launches their own business that they know their strengths and weaknesses.

As my background is agricultural and mechanical engineering, product development came naturally, but marketing was new to me. Nobody is good at everything, so seek help in the areas you need it.

One thing that I didn't fully grasp before launching Wicklow Rapeseed Oil was the importance of the brand. You can have the best quality product in the world - but if it's not packaged correctly and there's no brand awareness, it won't sell.

Most consumers spend two or three seconds looking at a product on the supermarket shelf before they pick it up. Therefore, it's vital to design the product's packaging so it will stand out to the target audience.

Creating a generic, all-encompassing brand name is also a very important consideration, as this enables you to sell a variety of products to a wider audience. This was something we didn't get quite right as our company will produce more than just rapeseed oil. Hence, we are currently undergoing a re-brand via Bord Bia's SuperBrands program with Begley Hutton.

Running a farm plus another business is challenging. And then there's the whole work-life balance to deal with. If you don't take a break and continue your hobbies you won't work efficiently, and you could soon lose your passion and drive.

Sunday Indo Business

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