Just when you think you have your marketing strategy figured out, think again. The same methods will not work for everyone and doing so can leave your sales stagnant. When it comes to making money, you need to stand out and give people what they want….even if they don’t know it yet.
Let’s face it, people want value and variety when they shop. You rarely see anyone shop for just one item, they typically find something irresistible and end up leaving with more. If you run a business, selling more, is the key to increasing your profits.
The same holds true for produce stands or farmer’s markets. People may shop with the intention of purchasing a set volume of one fruit or vegetable but they almost always leave with more – especially if the price is right.
Recently, my husband and I sat down and started to discuss business strategies for our new farm goods business, 25 Acres. After dipping our toes into the local farmer’s market, I voiced concern at selling some of the lesser known or less popular items.
Granted, this year I sold things at unbelievably low prices. That alone made people unable to resist the $1 per pound deal on okra, even if they had no clue what it was. Coupled with a drought year when most gardens had suffered, selling my produce was relatively easy. But, what would happen during a normal year? I didn’t want to continue giving everything away and I wouldn’t want to haul it back home and risk that it would go to waste either.
This was the exact moment my husband said something that could prove to change the future course of our business. He said, “What about baskets?”
Now, I realize for many of you this may not bring the same excitement it did for me. It made perfect sense! Let me explain.
Before our big move to the farm, we use to live in an area that received Bountiful Baskets. My husband and I would regularly volunteer to fill baskets and disperse produce that had arrived on a large truck. Direct delivery essentially cut out the middle man and supplied in-season produce at a reduced cost.
What I initially loved about the program was the price, that much was obvious. Starting at $15 I could get a mixed variety of fruits and vegetables for way less than the cost at a grocery store. I could pay more for certified organic or buy a flat of nothing but strawberries if they were in season. My elderly neighbor lived off this basket and regularly shared her bounty with others. For her, this cost savings was crucial.
I would end up with oodles of fresh produce of all kinds, half fruit, half vegetables. I even had the pleasure of trying new things that were too expensive to purchase at the local grocery store or I was just plain ignorant to what they were. No matter what we received, it was a welcome surprise and easy on the pocketbook.
So, what my husband hit on was the fact that if we loved something like that, someone else would too! We could still sell our same farmer’s market produce, only some of it could be packaged and sold much differently.
All those unique items like Anaheim peppers & okra? People would be more accepting if they were included in a large variety basket filled with other produce too.
Out of curiosity I wanted to test his idea. I contacted some customers and made posts on social media with baskets for sale.
My “End Of Season” baskets contained a little of everything left in our gardens. Early on, some had sweet corn, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, potatoes, apples, a variety of peppers, okra, green beans and a dozen eggs. As things have tapered off in the gardens the variety has decreased or included new things like cantaloupe.
Prices for my baskets ranged anywhere from $20 down to $10. It was simple enough to adjust pricing for those requesting additional eggs or due to the lack of volume. All in all, people were receiving a great value with a reasonable amount of produce that could be used within a week or two.
The baskets were a hit! I sold out fast and had a waitlist that I unfortunately couldn’t fill. The best part? I had made a remarkable impression and numerous business contacts for the 2018 produce season.
It just goes to show you that by changing the way you think about a marketing strategy can directly effect your overall sales. In our case, I made more selling baskets over the course of 1 week than I did with 2 stints at the local farmer’s market. AND…I didn’t have a ton of unsold, perfectly good produce to deal with. Bonus!
The test being such a success had me reeling. Feedback from various buyers also indicated that my pricing structure was perhaps a bit low. This would be a valuable tool to use in the 2018 farmer’s market season. Not only did I have to rethink ‘how’ I sell, but ‘how much’ I sell for and at what volume.
On top of the marketing and financials I now had to consider packaging. Logistically speaking, was it possible to compile baskets and store them on a larger scale than just two or three at a time? Could I find sturdy packaging that wouldn’t deduct too much from my profit margin? And finally, would I be selling these baskets at a local farmer’s market or via advertisement through social media?
For now, I have the entire winter to find answers to those questions. Trust me, I will be doing plenty of research and planning before spring hits! I’d like 25 Acres to become well known for it’s great local produce sold at outstanding prices. And baskets of course…glorious, variety filled, baskets!