Industry Viewpoint: Evolving your marketing strategy

Trish-James-2017 2If a tree falls in the woods, and no one is there to hear it, has it made a sound? If you can’t remember the brand that created your favorite Super Bowl commercial, was it effective? If you are still relying on the same advertising and marketing tactics you did 10 years ago, are you reaching the audience you need to? If you build it, will they come?

The answer is no, excect maybe the tree question, that is a debate for another day.   

Trish-JamesTrish JamesThe age of blanket marketing tactics is slowly fading and in order for brands to remain relevant, it is vital that they evolve. We are no longer in the “build it and they will come” generation. Instead, we need to find out where our customers are going and meet them there — with meaningful and authentic content and engaging experiences. This is even more important in the produce industry and the good news is it may be the easiest industry to do so.
Ban “we’ve always done it this way” mentality
One of my favorite podcasts is Business Insider’s Brought to You By… Each episode gives an off-beat story about a beloved brand that is fascinating, although sometimes tragic. Of the 36 episodes, about half dive a little deeper into a brands’ demise, or at least the tough times they are facing (Sears, Victoria’s Secret, Enron, JCPenney, etc.). Truly, this podcast is a dream for any marketing geek. As you listen to these episodes, you start to hear something they all have in common. The brands that struggled did not evolved as their customer changed and they relied too heavily on “this is always how we’ve done it” way of thinking. They were slow to make changes and when those changes came, they still were not meeting their customers’ needs.
Know your customer
If a portion of your marketing budget isn’t devoted to consumer research, you are missing a huge opportunity. If you don’t know who is frequenting your website or what the demographic is on each of your social channels (they are not all created equal), you should look into that ASAP. If you don’t know both the purchase and consumption behavior of those buying your product, how are creating effective marketing programs? Knowing your customer, and the customer you want, should be the first step of your marketing plan.
Be willing to take risks
We get to grow and sell beautiful and delicious food for people all over the world. Different varieties are constantly coming to the market and every year, the “Innovation and New Product Showcase” at your favorite trade show gets bigger. What an opportunity we have to try new marketing tactics, out-of-the-box ads and innovative promotions. And the good news is the risk is relatively low. We can brainstorm crazy ideas and execute amazing programs; if they don’t work there’s a new season, variety or crop right around the corner. Don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone.
Believe in what you are doing
Are you in your dream job? Do you feel that you are making a meaningful contribution? There are so many in the produce industry that love what they do. I have personally seen first-hand this industry come together to do good, to inspire, to lift each other up, and to give back to those less fortunate. Many of us make a difference every day and our passion shines through our work. It’s important that we not only hang on to that passion but use it as we communicate with our consumers. Today’s customer wants to make the world a better place and they are looking to use their purchase power to give back.

As we look ahead to the spring and summer seasons when the produce department shines the most brightly, I encourage us all to take a step back and really look at the way we are communication and merchandising to customers. Take risks and speak to them in fun and exciting ways. Sharing our passion and tell our stories. If we do these things, we can inspire them to put more fruits and vegetables in their carts.

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