Who Gets to Decide if Your Marketing Plan is Effective?
Risks can torpedo even the most successful marketing program. Grower-shippers are all too familiar with risks largely beyond their control, like retail consolidation, consumer perceptions and (always) the weather.
But even a marketing plan that has lost its way is still completely within the control of a grower-shipper. Consequently, it’s vital to conduct a regular, honest assessment of a firm’s marketing plan, using tools like the FreshXperts Marketing Self-assessment available for download at the end of this article.
Consider this real-life story:
Grower-shippers from a region known for high-quality strawberries began co-packing and branding fresh and frozen product in the 1990s, achieving an unusually high consumer food brand recognition rate. In 2013, historic winter weather is followed by contractual challenges with the leading fresh produce wholesaler. The short crop, combined with increased competition from imports, changes supply chain dynamics. The high consumer brand recognition rate now appears much less valuable. 
This is actually a case of Norway’s most recognized strawberry brand, recently reported in a management journal. We find that accurate marketing self-assessments can help firms of all sizes identify possible shortcomings that could crop up, even for the most successful of brands.
There’s a reason accurate is bolded; managers across all industries are notorious for failing to critically assess their own work – even when it doesn’t deliver the anticipated results. Failing to consider the value of successful marketing activities at one end of the supply chain can spell disaster for sustaining profits at the production end of the supply chain. That’s why we encourage marketers to ask questions like these:
- Does feedback I receive from my front-line employees (sales, customer service, accounts receivable) match the experience I believe customers have with my organization?
- Do website statistics (visitor counts, time on site, bounce rate) support the belief that customers are having a positive online experience?
- Do interactions on social media reflect the experience I believe customers are having with my organization?
- Do I spend time regularly talking with clients, suppliers and customers getting my own insight into their experience?
- Is my product in demand by brand name – or do I happen to be riding a wave of popularity for a particular commodity?
- Does my website and marketing collateral have the same look and feel of the most progressive competitors in my market segment – regardless of whether or not I like their look and feel?
- Do I regularly conduct customer surveys – allowing them to assess my product, brand and customer experience?
Regular customer surveys for the strawberry shipper could have flagged imports as a higher-threat than initially thought – and, perhaps, helped develop contingency plans for crop failures. That demonstrates the importance of regular marketing assessments for fresh produce grower-shippers at any scale, in any location.
To help get started toward an honest evaluation of your marketing plan, download the FreshXperts marketing self-assessment here.
“The Case of Valldal Branded Strawberries,” by Per Engelseth. International Food and Agribusiness Review, Vol. 18, Issue 4 (2015).
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This industry is filled with passionate people who love what they do. Most come from wonderful entrepreneurial family businesses with a rich heritage. So do I. I've learned from them. The've learned from me. Together we promote nutritionally rich fresh food for healthy living. It's a fabulous journey and a wonderful mission!
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