Standing out from the competition can be hard for a small business, especially when the number of competitors is constantly increasing.
We caught up with Pip Murray, who received a Start Up Loan of £10,000 and used it to develop her peanut butter brand Pip & Nut. Pip & Nut make a tasty range of natural nut butters that come in jars and handy on-the-go squeeze packs, and their products are stocked in over 270 stores across the UK.
What did you use your Start Up Loan for?
When I received my Start Up Loan Pip & Nut was just at the idea stage so I used the loan for proof of concept. I created a cheap but well branded product and spent three months selling at Maltby Market in Bermondsey to trial if people would like it. The loan also allowed me to spend time in a product development kitchen testing different recipes for the final peanut butter.
What makes Pip and Nut different from other nut butter brands?
Pip & Nut nut butter contains only natural ingredients without the addition of refined sugars or palm oil, and we have a variety of flavours. We are a very brand led business. I knew when I started I wanted to create an engaging and creative brand that people would love. It had to be striking and playful, and stand out from other products on the shelves.
How do you make your business stand out amongst the competition?
We have introduced a line of nut butter snack packs, that we call squeeze packs, which are completely new to the UK. They’re a cross between a snack and a natural energy bar. Our nut butter jars can only be placed on the shelves, but snack packs can sit in other places in store like by the till. It’s easy for your product to get lost on the supermarket shelves amongst so many other brands, so it’s important to look at different ways to get exposure. Another way we have done this is through forming partnerships with brands that have similar values as Pip & Nut. We have recently partnered with Nike to provide our squeeze packs at their 10k run , We Run London. This was an awesome opportunity to get in front of 20,000 people who fit our customer demographic and activate the product with this group of people.
Pip & Nut are hugely active on social media. How does this help the business?
We have a good brand story and we use social media to tell people about our product. We also choose influential people to send samples to so they can promote the product and hopefully tell all their followers how much they love our product, however this can also happen organically. Just last week a member of the Pussy Cat Dolls tagged us in a post on Instagram without us even getting in touch! We treat our marketing as a 360 approach and look at all touch points for our brand.
What advice would you give to small business owners on how to deal with the competition?
Try to focus on your business and what you’re doing. Set yourself ambitious goals, and try not to get distracted by the competition too much. You are a small team, so time is valuable and you need to stay focused. If you’re not creating anything new in the industry, you will always have competitors. What is important is that you create a product that is better, so spend time and money making this happen. For Pip & Nut, it was important to create a nut butter that we believed tasted better than the other brands out there. Once you believe that your business makes something that is amazing, you will have confidence in selling it.
Have you used any of the support available from Start Up Loans?
My Start Up Loan mentor has been one of the best sources of advice that I’ve had whilst starting up the company, and had vast amounts of experience in fast moving consumer goods. I have to say the mentoring that comes with the loan, for me, was far more valuable than the loan itself! I can’t thank my mentor enough for sharing her time and experience with me.