Polling our members in 2021, the ultimate request was to help find more hours in the day to harvest, grow, market and manage their business.
Here is my hack learned over decades with the food system and in particular, food producers.
Marketing is normally taught as the 5 core functions of 1) Product 2) Price 3) Packaging 4) Promotion and 5) Distribution. Enormous resources of time and money are often put forward to establish and continue to refine a companies marketing. Marketing is ripe for errors - wrong packaging for wrong market, wrong distribution for wrong market, promotion program not in sync with target market and, of course, wrong price and/or product.
“Don’t find customers for your product. Find products for your customers.” – Seth Godin
So what to do?
Start with your market. Identify who you want to target and spend most of your time talking directly to them. Let me be clear. You must speak directly to them, not to their representative. Ask for a perspective supplier interview at a convenient time/place. Create a relationship. Listen. Ask them what they want and how they want it. That goes to packaging, pricing, distribution, promotion AND product.
Make a visual 24/7/365 clock on your phone/computer or at your desk. Identify as much or more time talking to buyers than fellow producers. Ask them how best to be lock step with their markets if you are wholesale. How, in their experience, with their view can you grow your bottom line together? Ask for a success story. If you are direct to consumer, solve together what is required to develop a lifetime customer/supplier relationship. Take all your preconceived ideas off the table. You do not have to be where the market is today, you need to be where the market is when you launch your new product.
The information you gather will be priceless and something that most of your competitors will not have taken the time to gather. It will serve as one of the most critical tools going forward. You will now be armed with information and relationships on the markets that best match your business goals, short or long-term. Marketing resources will match with your market from the get go. Yes, errors will be made, but far fewer saving time and money.