Bottoms Up!

With consumers craving soda substitutes, these entrepreneurs are serving up alternatives in the new-age beverage market:

go through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (www.uspto.gov). You can also use a lawyer that specializes in trademarks. Fees start at $1,500.
Bottle the beverage. Most bottling plants deal in large volume. The minimum order is 5,000 cases at $8 per case, for the first production run. So, unless you have $100,000 to spend, Olson suggests starting with 1,000 cases until you obtain customers. It will cost you 10% to 20% more per case. There are beverage consulting companies like Liquid Brands Management that can help you find a bottler.

Get distribution. The only way to successfully sell your product is to get it in the hands of store owners. Create a distributor package and a retailer package. A distributor package is your pitch to the distributor. It includes such things as your pricing; product photos; sample products; promotional items such as T-shirts, stickers, and posters; and product specs–size of can, number of cans per case, and number of cases per pallet. Also, include how you will help the distributor sell the product. Once your packages are complete, make your calls to your list of potential distributors and retailers or visit them face-to-face with a package in hand. Also attend tradeshows such as the National Association of Convenience Stores (www.nacsonline.com). The cost to rent a booth is $10,000 to $15,000.

Market to consumers. Spread the word about your product. Create a press kit and send it to local newspapers, trade magazines, and television stations. Develop a Website that details your product and allows potential customers to make purchases online. Also, hold in-store samplings. If your budget permits, hire a public relations firm to help with your efforts.

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