Food industry people: Buyer’s Best Friend (www.BBFdirect.com) is looking for articles on how to do stuff – some examples include: food PR, packaging design, how to staff up for the holidays, promoting your product through social media, how to develop new flavors, working with distributors, etc. We have hundreds of manufacturers looking for advice/help on these topics, who may become your next customer – contact me to contribute!
Great article on the value of blogging on TechCrunch, and how to do it: http://techcrunch.com/2011/03/27/why-startups-need-to-blog-and-what-to-talk-about/. A lot of companies in the food business are on Facebook and Twitter and those are great ways to engage with customers and do promotion.
While California Girl Foods is on Facebook and Twitter, our blog serves a different purpose: providing buyers and sellers in the food industry with in-depth information about how to buy and sell wholesale food, as well as detailed information about particular product categories and brands.
A lot of people have said that blogs are no longer useful – I have found the contrary to be true in the food broker business. When most food companies sign on a broker, they are usually taking a leap of faith – there is no way to really know the details of their method or how good they are. Many people in the business have found the resources on our blog to be extremely useful – Twitter and Facebook give an executive summary of who a company is, but in a shallow way. Blogs allow for a level of depth and information that just can’t be replaced by 140 characters.
REASONS TO HAVE A BLOG:
1) Establish yourself as a domain expert and industry thought leader: sharing our expertise and tips on wholesale food sales quickly and efficiently differentiates us from other food broker firms. When people realize that what you do is unique and they can’t shop around and treat your services as a commodity, it’s the basis for creating a partnership, not just a vendor-customer relationship.
Want to be known for something? Write meaningful content on your blog about it that people want to read, and they’ll post links to you and help promote you.
2) Let qualified prospects come to you: instead of actively soliciting clients, we rely on referrals from our network and inbound inquiries from people who usually find us through a web search. When you do cold calling and outbound prospecting, your response rate is much lower because you don’t even know if the people you’re reaching out to need your services at the current time. Mediocre salespeople spend too much time on prospects who will never buy.
3) Prequalify prospective customers & save time: prospective clients can read about the California Girl Foods sales philosophy, see what product lines we represent, and figure out for themselves if we can help them grow their business. Each month, we get way more new client inquiries than we can possibly take on. Instead of spending an hour or more having an initial conversation with each one, we ask them to read our blog first, and answer a client questionnaire. After reviewing the questionnaire, then we request product samples and pricing. If the product meets our standards, and the mix or pricing, product uniqueness, packaging, etc. are all spot on, then we make an appointment to speak.
In summary: Facebook, Twitter and other guerilla marketing techniques are great to gather up evangelists and fans of your product, but long-form blog posts are just as valuable, for an entirely different set of reasons.
Lastly, “that which is measured is improved”. Make sure you are running reports on what web searches people are using to find your blog/website, what topics are the most popular, and what other sites are linking to you.
OMG, just got the new Chocolate Covered Hazelnuts from Taza Chocolate – they are amazing! Organic hazelnuts roasted until they’re golden and crunchy, then covered with a rich layer of stone ground Taza Chocolate. Wholesale customers – if you’d like to try the new hazelnuts, just let me know.
Nice article on ways that new product companies can get onto store shelves. One thing mentioned is the use of brokers/reps, who already have relationships with stores.
If you’re in San Francisco, visit Farm Fresh to You in the Ferry Building – demos of House of Balsamic and Owens Creek Company from 11am – 2pm!
This Saturday, March 5, the California Olive Oil Council is having their annual meeting, which I am very excited about. Here’s the agenda: http://www.cooc.com/COOC%20Agenda_Annual%20Meeting_2011.doc.pdf
Although I have a good palette for olive oil and know how to do a proper tasting, I know much less about the process of growing olive oil, which I’m excited to learn about.
If you’re looking for anything in particular re: California olive oils, let me know. I’ll report back!