Are You a Competitor or a Collaborator?

People seated at a table collaborating on a project
Photo by Jennifer Leonard, Creative Commons

It may sound counterintuitive, but the best way to grow your business may be through collaboration, rather than competition.

Americans are brought up to believe that we can’t collaborate with our competitors. There are even laws against price fixing, when competitors get together to agree on pricing. Yet, in many cases, being a collaborator rather than a competitor may be key to your success.

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Is Your Website Giving Me a Headache?

I’ve been looking at hundreds of food and farm websites as part of a project I’m doing for a client, and, frankly, some of them are giving me a headache! Too much text, too many garish colors, and way too many flashing images.

With all the free and inexpensive tools out there, every farm, small business and nonprofit can have a decent-looking website. But an effective website must not only look good–it should also answer the four questions below.

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How to Create a Simple Sales and Marketing Plan

Many small businesses and nonprofits don’t have a marketing plan because they don’t think they need one, don’t have the time to create it, or don’t know how. But creating a plan doesn’t have to take a lot of time–in fact, it can save you time, because you’ll stop doing things that aren’t meeting your goals (hello, Facebook!).

Here’s a simple example of a sales and marketing plan.

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How to Market Good Eggs (or anything else)

generic carton of eggsPeople who type “egg marketing” into a search engine often land on my website,  I hatched my company name because I like to think of myself as a “good egg,” not because I raise chickens. But since I call myself an EGG-spert, it’s time I shared my thoughts about how to market them.

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Forget Facebook…Until You Have a Social Media Strategy

social media logosThe key to making Facebook–or any other social media tool–work for your business or organization is to have a strategy for how social media will help you achieve specific goals. So before investing time and resources in Facebook, create your social media strategy

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When Less is Truly More

Are you better off selling at XYZ Farmers Market every week or every other week?  Will more people open your email newsletter if you send it out once a week or once a month? While there’s no one size fits all answer, with a little effort, you can figure out works best for you.

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Put Some Dazzle in Your Displays

The visual aspects of your brand–your logo, website, displays, and signage–say a lot about your business or organization. Just as your tone of voice can affect how people hear your words, the images you use to express your brand can either reinforce or undermine everything else that you say and do. So put some dazzle in your displays.

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Does Your Logo Tell a Story?

The Cabot Creamery dairy cooperative makes fabulous cheese–have you tried their Horseradish Cheddar?–and they’ve also done a great job building a collective brand for their 1200+ family farm members.

The Cabot brand, launched in 1984, had a 4.5% share in the Boston market in 1990; by 2009, it owned 30% of the Boston market. At the 2013 Harvest New England conference in February, Cabot Senior VP of Marketing Roberta MacDonald shared how Cabot built its brand through creativity and smart collaboration, not big bucks. The key to success? “Share your story, share your love.”

Over the years, their logo has smartly evolved to reflect their brand story. In their initial logo, the green map of Vermont proudly reflected the company’s Green Mountain State roots, but that’s about all. They’ve changed their logo a few times since then.

The current logo uses the same typeface for Cabot. The map’s been replaced with the image of a farm, but by using the same green, the logo conveys continuity with the past. The words “Since 1919,” and the tagline, “Owned by our Farm Families in New York & New England” have been added. Now the logo really tells a story: when you buy their products, you’re not only getting a great cheddar, you’re supporting family farms.

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