This week and the next couple weeks I am continuing to work on my marketing project that I described previously. During the last couple of weeks I had been surveying existing customers, but this week I started to work on potential new customers. Two markets I worked with are Delicious Orchards and Red Top Market, both in New Jersey and not current TMK customers.
With these farm market and roadside stand owners, I learned that I had to take a more conservative approach when first trying to break the ice. I designed my survey so the wording was not too aggressive by first emphasizing that I wasn’t trying to persuade them to buy from us. Rather, I asked them to consider if they feel that they are maximizing their current opportunities with their present suppliers. Their responses showed that these markets put the greatest emphasis on high quality produce, and less so on price. What I also observed in these markets is that most of them were carrying lower grade produce than TMK could supply them with.
Next, I asked them if they have ever been down to the PWPM or if they currently buy off of a vendor within the market. If they answered yes, then I kindly urged them to stop by TMK next time they are there and check out our selection of produce. If they answered no, I invited them into TMK at any time of their convenience and gave them a free entry pass and brochure of the market showing what gives us a competitive advantage over everyone else.
Many of these owners answered that they have not been down to the PWPM in years, and some not ever. Red Top Farms owner, Mary, said that she has not been down to the market in over 6 years. When she opened the brochure I saw her eyes light up as she began to blush and said “this looks nothing like the market I remember.” I told her that a new facility got built and opened in June 2011 and that it is fully enclosed and refrigerated. Here’s a photo down the main hallway of PWPM showing the impressive facility:
Redtop currently buys from one of TMK’s main competitors and she said that he does “everything” for her including the buying, storing, and transporting of the produce. Her relationship with him dates back more than 30 years so I did not want to be too pushy when telling her that her produce was not worth what she was buying it for. My goal was to get her to come into the market because if she did, there was no way to avoid going into TMK due to it being located near multiple entry points and also carrying the largest variety of fruit in the market. Once she saw our offerings she would surely realize the opportunities she has been missing out on.
The main thing I have learned during the early stages of this project is that the roadside stands and farm market owners are too content with their current situation. If they took the initiative to reach out to new suppliers or make the drive down to the PWPM they would surely realize the great opportunities they are missing out on. Some goals of this project are for me to learn about customer behavior and for me to engage with current and potential customers, but if I could acquire a new customer along the way that would surely boost my value and meaningfulness to TMK. If Redtop and other farms are unresponsive then I will make my way back there with a more aggressive mindset and a carload of free samples to help sway their minds.