Monday, May 20, 2013

No Goat Drank from MY Pitcher

Figuring out a good marketing strategy is difficult. Direct marketing is even tougher.
Full disclosure...this is a SHEEP
and she did NOT drink from any pitcher

Everyone is looking for an edge and after a while even the best buzzwords seem to lose their punch. What’s a marketer to do?

I read this rather amusing story the other day.

A little boy was selling lemonade.  When another little boy began selling lemonade on the other side of the street, the stage was set for some serious competition.  The first kid got bigger cups…the competition followed suit.  He added straws…so did kid #2.  He dropped his price and so did the other little boy.  This was getting frustrating.  He needed something new…a little pizzazz…a claim that set him apart from the competition.
The next day, he raised the price …and added a sign to his lemonade stand.

                  NO GOAT DRANK FROM MY PITCHER!

I am guessing here, but the customers probably flocked to his side of the street, willing to pay a little more for some peace of mind.

While the statement was true for both boys, (I mean…who would let a GOAT drink from a pitcher?)  it put doubt and concern in the mind of potential consumers…and implied that the product without the claim was in some way less than desirable.

This is a funny little story…and I have absolutely no idea if it truly occurred. But, there are similar situations all the time in the “real world”. There are so many food choices, so many buzzwords, so much variation in price.  

All those claims you see on food are to set each apart from the competition.  All too often, the claims are unnecessary and/or untrue.  Sometimes the term has absolutely no bearing on the product. Do you know which of these claims, if any, can be substantiated? Do they all have set definitions?  Are any of them worth a premium price?

Hormone-free   NO Pesticides    Sustainable   Vegetarian Diet

Environmentally Friendly        No GMO’s   NO Antibiotics    high in Omega-3s   Grass-fed 

100%Corn Fed     Low in Saturated Fat      all natural        Organic

Alternative      Family-farm        Biodynamic     LOCAL

 NO Herbicides  BPA free    Earth Friendly         fair-trade/free-trade
Fat-free   Flash Frozen   FRESH     Chemical-free     pasteurized

GREEN  pasture-raised             Just-Pik'd              
  free-range        NO Antibiotics  Gluten FREE

…and there are certainly more… 

I must admit, we’ve been guilty of using those “buzzwords” and phrases without a thought as to their real meaning or application to our products.  I have made more than a few purchases based on the "warm fuzzies" and my perception of a buzzword used to describe a farming practice.  Recently, we have been putting a lot of thought into communicating the truth about our products in order to help customers understand just what goes into food production.

I’ve written about “chemical-free” and “hormone-free” before.   Read "You Ain't Seen Me Crazy Yet". ...and the oft-repeated "NO pesticides" regarding Organic produce is the single most aggravating and  false statement I have heard. One of these days, I will jump into the midst of the ongoing tumultuous conversations about GMO's and the pseudo-science that is being used in reporting...

Despite the fact that these most of the claims of FREE are impossible, marketers continue to use them. Consumers continue to demand them, partly because they keep seeing the same information.  Be healthy, be safe, think green, get away from processing, plastic, pesticides, herbicides, the list of concerns seems endless. 

While each of these claims may be true and some actually have merit, none should be taken at face value. There are very few in the list above that have true definition and even less have some sort of regulation and oversight.

As always, it pays to know your farmer…know your food.

That doesn't necessarily mean you must buy everything from a farmer at the Farmers' Market (although we would appreciate the sales), but having a working idea of what goes into the food you eat is crucial.  With all the information that is available with the click of a mouse, there is no reason to remain un-educated when it comes to food production.

…and I might add…it is crucial to know what is important to YOU.

Labels and buzzwords are just marketing tools...and tag-lines are designed to get your attention.  Please be aware of this and educate yourself. Only when you know the actual meaning and/or application of the buzzwords will you be able to decide if they grant you the peace of mind to warrant higher prices.

                            Oh, and for the record...we don't have goats.

If you want to know more about food production and handling, I would love to hear your questions.  If I don't have personal experience or know the answer...I know people who do.
Comment below...or email me.   I’ll be glad to help you find the information you need. 

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