The Urban Farmer: How to Sell More (by specializing in something) (FSFS53)

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Think about an established farmers market with an established customer base.

Everyone shopping at that market has their preferred vendors. They buy lettuce from this guy and they buy tomatoes from that girl week after week. They don’t switch it up.

If you then enter that market as a new vendor, how do you knock someone out of the preferred vendor spot in a customer’s mind? How do you get the customer to switch to buying lettuce or tomatoes from you instead of that guy or that girl? Because that’s really what you need to do. Either you need to get existing customers to switch or you need to pick up market share from new customers. The bad news is that once a person commits to a particular product or brand in their mind it’s very hard to get them to switch.

Look no further than you own habits. How often do you go to different grocery stores or gas stations by your house or how often do you change brands of laundry detergent or ketchup? Probably not very often. You made a decision long ago, and as long as things do change, why switch.

Given that, how do you compete in a crowded farmers market? Why is a farmer’s market customer going to choose your booth versus the booth that they always shop at?

You have to be unique..

Again, look at the landscape of the market, if there are already 5 vegetable vendors at your market more or less growing what you grow, and they are established, then you either have to be unique enough to go in and compete with them hand try to knock one of them out of the top 5 in terms of market share, which is hard, or you have to be unique enough so you don’t actually have to compete against them. Instead positioning yourself in the customers mind as the preferred choice.

How do you do that, make yourself unique?

One way is to specialize in something.

Part of that specialization might mean differentiating your product so you position yourself as the category leader; a category that you own; one that you create.

For example, say a lot of vendors are selling loose leaf lettuce. There’s already an established hierarchy there in terms of market share for the category of loose leaf lettuce. How do you compete?

You don’t, avoid competition, and you create your own category. Maybe that category is head lettuce or romaine. Or maybe it’s organic lettuce. Or living lettuce with the roots still attached. You differentiate your product just enough to move it to its own category. Then you become first to market in that category and have an competitive advantage. That’s a far cry from going into a competitive market and competing on price. And when you think about it it wasn’t really that hard. You didn’t have to create or invent anything new. You just supplied an in demand product to a market that wanted it, but didn’t have anyone to buy it from.

That’s one of the many benefits of specializing in a product. And it’s that benefit and the many others that we will be talking about today, on The Urban Farmer.

“The great majority of people are “wandering generalities” rather than “meaningful specifics” Zig Ziglar

Why specialize?

  • Why specialize in something?
    • You do not want competition.  If you are competing, then you are competing on price and you don’t want to play that game.
  • Why is someone going to come to you versus someone else?
    • What is your differentiator?
      • Think about it this way. If there are already 5 vegetable vendors at your market more or less growing what you grow, and they are established, then you have to be pretty unique and special to knock one of them out of the top 5 in terms of market share.
  • A regular customer at a farmers market who shops at regular booths.  Why are they going to switch?
    • If it’s price, that’s a dangerous game to play.
    • If it’s quality, that’s possible, but how do you actually get them to switch problem.
    • If you are something different, then they have to add you if they want it.
    • If you don’t have the differentiator, then they only way that you potentially grow your customer base is by taking new customers as brand new customers come to the market.
  • What can a brand will be built around?
    • What can you tell a story about?
    • “The great majority of people are “wandering generalities” rather than “meaningful specifics” Zig Ziglar
  • How would you customer describe you? 
    • Is it going to be he grows great vegetables, or he grows the best broccoli here?
    • What are you known for?
    • “That’s their thing, that’s what they do.”
  • If you decide… I will specialize in THIS, based on market research.
    • How to do the research?
    • Crowded market versus a clear opportunity?
    • If not a clear opportunity, then what?
      • CVR
      • Use the CVR to start growing some crops, and then start by lightly specializing in what you are really interested in.
    • Is anyone else doing this?
      • If yes, are they selling to the market that you are selling to – restaurant versus DTC.
      • If yes, is there a different way to spin it, small veg versus large, unique varieties versus common.
    • If you go into a competitive niche and are basically selling a similar product, then you are competing on price, and that is a race to the bottom.
      • Be unique, have no competition, own the niche.
      • Realize that even if go this route, you may be wrong and you may just evolve into something.
  • If you are really interested in a particular crop, then it’s easier to learn more about it.  Stick with it.  Sell it.  And tell a story about it.
    • If you hate okra, unless you can sell massive amounts of okra, you will probably not want to stick with it.

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