Industry Viewpoint: Treating buyers like consumers
A common theme of meetings that I’ve been in recently is education — both for the end consumer and for category managers, buyers, and anyone new to the world of produce. It can be hard to wrap one’s head around the number of varieties, various seasons and countries of origin. Not to mention, all the growing intricacies and supply chain knowhows. It seems that in a world where anyone can “Google it,” there are still questions about the thousands of different produce items.
When it comes to getting your message across to your CM or procurement team, mimicking an omnichannel approach that you do for consumers may be the solution:
Trade Shows — Many of us just came home from Southern Exposure, a show that kick starts the spring trade show sprint and allows growers and suppliers to debut new products and programs. It is a great opportunity to kick the tires on messaging while having meaningful conversations that you may not be able to have at larger shows. Many exhibitors will also participate in several shows between now and June, curating their communication before IFPA’s Global Produce and Floral Show in October. It is key to develop a communications strategy for each show to make sure no matter who comes to your booth, they are hearing the most important attributes of your brand and/or commodity. It is equally important that your team listens and takes notes on the questions they are being asked. Holding debrief meetings soon after the shows so your communication reflects the most frequently asked questions.
Social Media — LinkedIn is the obvious, and arguably the most efficient, way to convey your B2B messaging. Much of the content is workplace related and your connections are colleagues throughout the industry. However, it is important not to forget the other social channels as well. Many of us, especially our Millennial and Gen X coworkers, are on several platforms. Are you there? Sharing crop updates, variety information, health benefits and more on each channel is another way to get in front of your buyer. Most importantly, whether you are sharing information on LinkedIn or the other more consumer-focused social platforms, encourage your team to share your content. Add links to meeting agendas or Slack channels to make sharing easy.
Emails and eNewsletters — How many emails is too many? That is the age-old question. There is certainly a fine line between communicating important information and spamming inboxes so much that your emails are ignored. However, when you look at all the communication channels available to you, emails are the most effective. The key is to start segmenting your trade lists similarly to how you setup your consumer distribution lists. Emails that are targeted, specific, and provide the most important and useful information to the intended audience will be read more. This does take a little work on the front end, but when done well, you will see open rates increase and your messages hitting the desk of those that need it most.
Effective communication will always be a goal that we strive to achieve — and I’m not sure that we will ever conquer it.
We can, however, share what makes our items so special in a more effective and sustainable way if we shift the way we engage with our buyers and category managers and talk to them like they are our consumers. Because at the end of the day, that is what we all are.
Photo: The Healthy Family Project team taking a moment to enjoy themselves at SEPC Southern Exposure.