COABC - Marketing Toolkit
Marketing to Wholesalers and Retailers
“Everyone I’ve met who is a successful grower is a successful marketer, everyone from farmer’s markets to exporters.”
-comment in COABC survey of growers
If you want to expand your market from farmer’s markets to wholesalers/retailers, you have to play by the rules:
- Nurture business relationships.
Approaching a wholesaler or retailer is like beginning a long-term relationship. Establish a product sales cycle that benefits both parties.
- Set a positive precedent
Develop an account that does not allow for unreasonable business practices with prospective customers.
- Try to anticipate the variables.
For instance, if an order is changed, make sure you and the customer have agreed on a way to accommodate the change in payments and schedules.
- Always be upfront about terms with customers and staff.
Make sure the customer and everyone who works with and/or for you know your policies with respect to payment, supply of product, returns or rejections, and any special or promotional exceptions.
“You have to balance what you can/want to grow with what people want to buy.”
-comment in COABC survey of growers
- Do your research.
Find out how the buyer wants the product labeled, packaged and documented. A bar code in the wrong place can jeopardize your whole marketing effort.
- Always have your documentation in order and at hand.
Consider this comment from a processor:
I do see the quality getting better, getting a bit more organized. For example, the documentation is better, but still only one place consistently supplies us with the documentation we need (e.g. grower name, number, cert. number etc.). I would rather deal with Canadians, but it can be a tremendous hassle and time consuming. Sometimes we ask ourselves, why are we doing this? This is a nightmare!
(Source: Nancy Korva, Happy Planet)
- Educate potential retail/wholesale customers about BC Certified Organic products.
You may have to educate your potential customers about your products and their benefits.
- Consider having a customer advisory panel.
This can consist of three or four customers that you regularly check in with. By knowing your customers' wants and needs can you successfully grow your business.
- Give your customer what they want, when they want it and how they want it.
- Give back to your best customers.
Ensure all your current and new customers are offered the same deals.
- Identify the critical link between you and your business customers.
Ask yourself, “What did the customers buy?” and use the answer as the base of your client retention program.
- Keep track of all persons that you deal with, especially the decision-maker.
Make personal contact with all of them, no matter how large the staff.
- Don’t allow your competitors to finish a task for you.
Tie up “loose ends” and make certain that a plan is made to complete all work and nothing goes unfinished.
- Consider working with your competitors.
If you know a potential customer wants to deal in a volume greater than you can provide, consider working with a fellow producer. Co-ops are another option.
- Offer samplesof your products at markets and stalls.
Tasting often translates into a desire to buy.
- Cross-merchandise with a complementary or related business.
Team-up and promote each other’s products to increase mutual benefits.
- Team up with a restaurant to sell your produce.
Offer space for advertising on your farm brochure or website in exchange for the display of a decal supporting BC Certified Organic produce.