Market Planning for Value-Added Agricultural Products [workbook]

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The Bottom Line: To be successful in business you need enough customers to buy your product over a sustained period of time at a profitable price.

Success requires:

  • knowledge: an understanding of the needs of your customers (your market) and how those needs relate to your product’s features and benefits;
  • research: information that helps you determine whether there is enough of a market to keep your business thriving and whether the costs of producing, distributing and selling can be done for a price that your market will pay and that yields a profit to you;
  • focus: the discipline to know whether there is a match between the needs of a prospective customer and what your business offers;
  • communication: an ability to convert the market and product match into repeat sales.

No one can tell you exactly how to achieve success. The path is unique to each business. However, the experience of successful entrepreneurs strongly points to business planning based on strategic thinking and research about an enterprise and its potential customers as a common trait. Business planning encompasses all the interdependent issues about which a business must be concerned and informed: production, labor, financing, management, organization, marketing, and so forth. This workbook focuses on one aspect of business planning: marketing. It is directed at agricultural producers considering or engaging in earning adding financial value from their enterprises through processing, packaging, distribution and other services.

Marketing Basics

Every entrepreneur starts with a gut feeling—a strong intuitive sense of having come upon on a truly great business idea. Making the transition from concept to a profitable venture requires vision enhanced by information and planning. Marketing savvy is a key element.

Marketing is a purposeful process of identifying and satisfying customer needs. Marketing encompasses everything a business does to direct its products to a defined set of customers.

Marketing products to an undifferentiated mass market is rapidly becoming a thing of the past. Demographic changes, intense competition and information technology are dividing the mass market into more and more separately definable segments. Just the sheer volume and variety of available products alone means that no-one has to make do with a product that does not quite fit a specialized need.

Surveys, scanning, computerized data bases, the Internet, cable television are just a few of the methods making it possible to identify, understand and communicate with welldefined customer groups. Trying to be all things to all people is ineffective. Customers expect and demand products and services that fit them perfectly. Effective marketers give them what they want.

Marketing is a customer focused way of thinking and acting. The customer’s needs and desires determine the marketing strategy—product positioning, packaging, promotion, presentation and pricing. In a sense, the customer’s interests are wrapped around the product.

The four fundamentals of marketing are: Product, Place, Price, Promotion. Your Product must provide consumers with something they perceive has value. Place is where the customer will purchase the product and how it gets there. Price is the art of assessing the value of your product. Promotion is what you do to make the connection between your product and the buyer. Based on the 4-P’s, every business needs to develop a marketing plan which outlines marketing goals, strategy and implementation activities and designates who is responsible for sales and marketing.

This workbook is based on presentations by Lynda Brushett, Niche Marketing, Barrington, NH, Greg Franklin, Gregory S. Franklin Associates, Lebanon, NH and Jim Miller, Miller Business Navigators, Canterbury, NH for the Marketing U Seminar on Market Planning For Value-Added Agricultural Products held at East Hill Farm in Troy NH, January 26 & 27, 2000.

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