Eat Local Food LLC

  (Novi, Michigan)
Local Food Marketing and Art Design
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Supporting Local Chefs is Good for Farmers Markets

Collaborate with Local Chefs for Boost in Sales

photo by Chris Witkowski
Here's a  collaborative marketing idea for those "In Season" strawberry, blueberry, tomato and sweet corn days:

Work with your local chefs, restaurants, ice cream parlors and hospital cafes to encourage them to offer special recipes using locally grown (and sourced) favorites during the season. 

For every "in season favorite" recipe that is ordered, ask the business to give the customer a coupon for the farmers market.  The coupon could be for a free water bottle, package of seeds, discount offer (if vendors agree) or free ice cream cone.  The discount offer is ideal, as the cost of offering the item is only incurred if the individual spends additional dollars at the market, and no up front spending by the farmers market is required.

In turn, the farmers market can hand out a seasonal recipe card with a coupon for the business establishment.  If several businesses participate, consider weekly rotations so every participant benefits.

Local Food Marketing Requires a Conversation

As many of you know, we made a decision to take down our on-line store in early 2013.  Rising compliance
costs were the main issue, but we also realized that we like to talk to our customers.  Local Food Marketing is not a ready-to-order on-line venture.  Each of our customers have unique products, locations and communities.  Often it takes a "real" conversation to determine what is needed.  For that reason, we have opted to fall back on our original business model, which is taking orders via phone and e-mail.  No credit cards, no on-line orders.  We'd like to speak with you one-on-one and personally help you with your marketing needs.  We are trying to keep our costs down while keeping a personal touch in our business. 

We now have many of our products on-line for viewing.  Just click on the "Our Products" page and under the headings BannersTote BagsNote Cards and Price Cards, you will see what we have to offer.  More of our product page details are on the way.   Thanks for your support and your patience while we make this significant change to our website.  

Contact Information:
Joan Rozelle
Eat Local Food LLC

Get Creative: Marketing Local Food in Schools

It's late in the school year, but now is the time to look ahead to next year.  While all your teachers, administrators and parent volunteers are still available, it's the best time to consider changes in your local school food program for the 2013-2014 school year.

Here are some questions to consider:
  • What are your goals for your school's local food program?
  • Who will head-up and serve on your local food committee next year?
  • How often will the local food committee meet?  When?  Where?
  • What are your school food fund-raising plans for your school next year?
  • What are your plans for marketing local food in your school next year?  
  • How can you engage students, teachers, parents, administrators and community leaders to get involved, participate and co-market your program?
  • How will you reach the community at large?  
  • What are your plans to engage the community in a collaborative marketing effort?
  • How will you measure your local school food program's results?  How often with the measurement take place?  Who will receive a report on the results?
All these questions, and we haven't even addressed food acquisition's a link to a fantastic resource for information on food acquisition, partnering techniques, financing, nutrition, etc.  The National Farm to School Network offers 20 minute webinars on a variety of topics.  Past webinars are available for download.  Called "Lunch Bites" they are designed to be short, information packed presentations to help guide you through the maze of offering a healthy school food program. 
You can also search your state for involved groups and organizations that provide resources to assist you in your local school food planning.

Here's a discussion on marketing local food in schools:  Get Creative:  Marketing Local Food in Schools.  I co-authored and presented this talk with Michaelle Rehmann of the Food Systems Economic Partnership of SE Michigan (FSEP) at their 2010 conference.

And here's a link to another presentation I gave which discusses responsible marketing to children and healthier school fundraisers.  Kids are the Customers:  Marketing Local Food in Schools was presented in 2010 at the National Farm to Cafeteria Conference in Detroit. 

I hope you find this information to be helpful.  Good luck in your efforts to create a healthy and successful local food program in your school!

Contact Information:
Joan Rozelle
Eat Local Food

Marketing Explained at the Farmers Market

The following represents our revision of a humorous but somewhat adult marketing-themed joke we received via e-mail.  We thought it was a cute marketing lesson so we’ve cleaned it up and added a farmers market theme…we hope you enjoy it, and we extend our apologies to the original unknown author. 

What is Marketing?

You're selling vegetables at a farmers market and you see a prospective customer within range of your booth. You call to him and say, "Our tomatoes are the best around.”

That's Direct Marketing.

You are selling vegetables at a farmers market and a friend stops by.  You both see a prospective customer within range of your booth.  Your friend goes up to him, and pointing at you, says, "Her farm’s tomatoes are the best around.”

That's Advertising.

You see a prospective customer near your booth at a farmers market. You make eye contact with him and encourage him to give you his e-mail address. The next day you e-mail him and say, “Our farm’s tomatoes are in and we’ll have a special tomato salsa sampling at the farmers market this week.  Our tomatoes and salsa are the best around!”

That's E-Mail Marketing.

You see a prospective customer at a farmers market, you grab a business card, and you walk up to him and hand him a salsa sample.  You say, "Please enjoy a taste of our wonderful fresh salsa," then continuing, “This farmers market offers many fresh samples of the wonderful local produce available here", and finally, adding, "By the way, my farm’s tomatoes are the best around." 

That's Public Relations.

You're at a farmers market and see a prospective customer. He walks up to you and says, “I hear your tomatoes are the best around!"

That's Brand Recognition.

You're at a farmers market and see a prospective customer.  He’s interested in buying fresh tomatoes from you, but you talk him into buying tomatoes from your friend’s farm instead.

That's a Sales Rep.  

Your friend’s farm can't satisfy the quantity of tomatoes the customer needs, so she calls you.

That's Tech Support.

You're on your way to the farmers market when you realize that there could be prospective customers in all these houses you're passing. So you climb onto the roof of one situated towards the centre and shout at the top of your lungs, "My farm’s tomatoes are the best around!"

That's Junk Mail.

We hope you enjoyed our marketing lesson today!


More on First Impressions: E-mail v. Texting

My recent post on making a credible first impression focused on your web presence.  Your company website is what potential customers first see when they look for you.  The impression you give should be professional, positive and confident.  Your blog, e-newsletter and social media posts should all be extensions of your website, having the same level of professionalism in both look and content.  You never know the route a customer takes to your website - they may first see a post from you on Facebook or Google+ which spikes their curiosity and their search for your company.

Yesterday, I had an e-mail conversation with a new vendor and it drew my attention to the first impression that an e-mail can make.  During my e-conversation with the vendor:

  • He responded in single sentence e-mails, without a greeting or a closing.  
  • He wrote in caps, which of course gave me the impression that he was shouting at me.  
  • He used abbreviations, which made him appear hurried and even disinterested.

Ultimately, I got what I needed, which was new "made in the USA" labels for the inside of our Eat Local Food tote bags.

I not only felt happy that my order was complete, I was relieved my conversation was over.  Then I realized that my unsettling conversation was because my vendor and I were using two different forms of communication.  I was on my laptop using e-mail, and he was on his I-phone texting.  Aha!  I immediately knew that if I had been on my phone receiving a text, I would not have thought the conversation to be clipped.  

In a professional e-mail business conversation, your e-mail should have

  1. A greeting, or salutation
  2. A  closing , or valediction
  3. Proper use of upper and lowercase letters.
  4. Your signature, including contact information and a link your web address, your blog and/or your social media pages.  If it's a business e-mail, don't include quotes about your hobbies or religious preferences - save that for personal e-mail use.

In my opinion, if you are sending a message to a phone number, you can be brief, immediate and ignore the polite rules of e-mail etiquette.  If you are writing to an e-mail address, the traditional e-mail rules should be followed.  Your contact with the outside world impacts how your brand is viewed.  Your customers should feel important and respected.  

Competition is fierce. Get your foot firmly in the door with a good first impression!


Make a Credible First Impression

This morning, I had an e-mail from an individual requesting advice on whether to include their website address on their new business card, even if the website wasn't up and running yet.  This person was going to attend a conference where they hoped to make business contacts, so she was going to have new business cards printed to take and pass out.  She understandably didn't want to print business cards without the website address and then print more again when the website was ready.  My response follows.

If you are passing out your business card, you certainly want to give the recipient a website reference to check.  It adds credibility to your statement that you have started a business.  If someone goes to your page and sees “under construction”….or sees an unavailable notice; they will (even subconsciously) think that you are not credible.

Here’s how to add credibility to your new business even if your website isn’t completed yet.  Create a home page that someone would land on when looking up your domain.  It could just have your name, contact information and perhaps an illustration or two or a list of your product offerings, where your products are sold, or your upcoming engagements.  Most hosting sites offer an option of putting up a page until your site is ready, and many offer templates that are nice, and can be modified to add some photos or your logo.  Then when your website is ready to go live, you just swap out the temporary home page with your new and fabulous website.

In today’s business world, an instant impression can make all the difference between someone walking away and someone taking a second look.

If you have the same issue with a website in progress but are not sure how to proceed with setting up a temporary home page, just ask your web hosting provider.  Many have a support desk which will be more than happy to help.  This is usually something you can do yourself at no extra cost to you.

What is your experience in setting up your business website?  If you'd like to share your experience, we welcome your comments.


Farmers Market Promotions: Be Creative and Collaborate

It's time to think about marketing your Farmers Market, but how can you afford to do so?  Advertising can be costly, and one-time only print advertisement might be missed by potential customers.  Billboard advertising gets more repeat attention, but it's costly to rent space.   Maximizing your marketing dollars requires creativity and collaboration from the community. 

Customers shop at Farmers Markets because they believe in supporting local farmers, they like to eat healthy food, they appreciate the camaraderie among fellow shoppers, or they enjoy the festive atmosphere.  

How can you harness that customer loyalty to assist with your Farmers Market promotions?

Involve your customer.  Appeal to their emotional involvement.  Allow your customers an opportunity to participate in your promotions.  Customers show their support for Farmers Markets through social media, wearable merchandise, repeat visits and ultimately, their pocketbooks.    Centering  your creative, collaborative promotion around these concepts will increase your customer base and market loyalty.  

First I'll address a topic that's near and dear to our heart....creatively collaborating on a customized tote bag promotion.  

With some creative collaborative promotions, a farmers market can subsidize the cost of producing a customized tote bag, and create buzz for their market at the same time:
  • Find a local business to co-sponsor the tote bag
  • Selling the tote bags for $15 to $20 as a fundraiser for your farmers market
  • Starting a Friends of the Market program where a $40-$50 donor receives a complimentary friend of the market tote bag
  • Begin a “punch-card program” where an individual with 6 visits to the market (and 6 punches on their card) receives a complimentary farmers market tote bag
  • Sell the tote bag at your cost as a promotional item for your farmers market
  • Offer a weekly raffle and fill the tote bag with market vendor items
  • Ask local businesses to sell the bags and give the market the proceeds
  • Sponsor a Spring or Harvest Dinner during the market season and give a market tote bag to everyone who purchases a ticket to the event.  The ticket price should reflect the cost of the event including the tote bag.
The important thing to remember is that a customized tote bag is actually a promotional tool for your Farmers Market.  Any item that has your Farmers Market name on it represents your market and your vendors.  Your bags should be attractive, durable and washable.  Our preference is always that the bag be made in the USA.  You want your customers to say, "what a nice bag!  I have to have one.  Where did you get it?  Well, that must be a great farmers market!"  Your customer with the tote bag will enjoy spreading the word about their favorite farmers market.  

The end result is that you will create buzz about your market and your customers will be walking billboards for you - repeat advertising without the high cost of rented space!

Over the next several days, we will address other creative collaborative marketing approaches for your Farmers Market.   How do you creatively collaborate with your community?  We'd love to hear from you! 

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