Small Retailers Stake Claim vs. Goliaths

What an inspiring article by a brand whiz, on how he helped two mom and pop businesses take on their own Goliaths by showing them how to tell customers why they’re better and more unique.

  • Moths to a Flame: For a too-quiet restaurant at the end of a dark road, enticing prospective patrons to tread a dark alley and draw nearer to lit torches. Once in, the food and ambiance won them over
  • Early Birds Catch the Worm: Urging a green grocer to tell his story of dedication and care in selecting fresh produce at the crack of dawn every day using the most elementary of tools, taking on the giant while armed only with polaroids, note cards and a Sharpie.

If you’re a locally-owned business who’s facing down a new Goliath in town, reach a little and stake your claim based upon your key values — dedication, personal care, affordable pricing, convenience. If you also get the chance to sell and serve customers online (previous post), these same rules apply for reaching shoppers far and wide.

Please read Martin’s article at Fast Company; link here.

Biomimicry: Nature as Innovation Lab

Here’s another inspiring post by TED, about silk as “the ancient material of the future”. Presenter has an engaging style and gives a concise, delightful review of very viable applications of silk and science, technology and everyday life. View here.

The greater field of biomicry is like a gold mine for brand marketers; a keen story to tell that compels and inspires customers. A super-powered set of “can’t lose” brand attributes that trump competitors’… everyone loves animals!

The venerable San Diego Zoo is home to a leading group of thought leaders in this field. Visit their resource site here.

Successful Export of Agricultural Products in 2011

Hanson Marketing has made great use of several tried and true, publicly-run business development agency programs when establishing selling channels worldwide. Among them is the Foreign Agricultural Service at the US Department of Agriculture. In 2010, we took part in a novel program in Brazil, on behalf of our client who makes gourmet sea salt in Hawaii. The Sao Paulo office of USDA connected us, at no charge, with a pre-qualified short list of prospective wholesale channel partners. The process was soup-to-nuts: all we did was ship a set of samples and literature to their US address (how easy!) and they took it from there. Though sales have not yet materialized, must say it was a smoothly run operation, and a great example of how a public agency thinks and responds like a private company. Total cost to participate? Zero.

In 2011, the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) is leading the way for exporters of US-grown agriculture products to meet new channel partners and customers at a series of valuable selling events. Also, check out this national trade association of state agriculture commissions here.

Scan this one-pager listing key shows for 2011. Choose a market, then go!


Pork Butt: Iowa Scores Another Global Export Win

The Des Moines Register reports that the US Meat Export Federation has short-listed pork butt as the next, best candidate for US meat exports. Target markets for this Iowa product range from NAFTA to near-Asia.

Referred to in polite company as Boston Shoulder Roast, pork butt is all the rage in the states, under the guise of pulled pork; though is mostly seasonal. The great state of Iowa, largest producer of pork butt, missed out on a branding opportunity, I’m afraid. What’s wrong with calling this powerhouse new export product “Iowa Pork Roast”? Boston’s got plenty of brand cache already – beans, pie, chowdah – and I don’t recall seeing swine grazing on The Commons recently…

While we’re at it, let’s raise a toast to the US pork industry, who’s exporting about 25% of total output. Their numbers are up over 2009, and they’ve only just begun. Expect an educational campaign targeting retailers, consumers, and purveyors in hospitality and food service on how good and versatile pork butt really is.

Shake that Moneymaker!

Branded Program Webinar: Affordably-built Export Strategies

Publicly-funded Branded Programs assist qualifying companies that are ready to export internationally disbursing matching marketing federal funds for advertising, international trade shows, in-store demos and other eligible promotional expenses.

Federally funded Market Access Programs (MAP) are tailor-made for agricultural and other product providers. If you or anyone within your circle of excellence is actively engaged in these areas, I highly recommend you reach out to your local department of commerce and department of agriculture offices for more information.

Stalking Healthy Alternatives at 2009 Natural Products Expo West

There are no bad days at a trade show where a potluck of world delicacies is featured as giveaways. There’s a spring in my step whenever I enter Expo West in Anaheim, CA. Maybe it’s the thrill of rubbing elbows with über-healthy people who are passionate about nutrition and keeping bodies in good working order, inside and out. Or, it could be that I’m like a fine thoroughbred heading for the feed bag.  Where else can you tantalize your tongue with smoky tapas of Spain’s finest jamón Serrano and wash it down with Ayala’s Herbal Water, (Lavender Mint flavor, by the way…) which was created by a pediatrician on a quest to provide healthy, tasty beverages for her family and friends?

In every aisle, “chow-n-chat” sessions proved that sellers and makers of healthy, organic foods and personal care products see gold in the modern consumer’s quest for balanced living and responsible consumerism.  All those “why-didn’t-I-think-of-that?” moments reminded me that the natural food and personal care industry is full of innovative folks with can’t-lose attitudes and the guts to make products that are both healthy and tasty. The result? Smart, novel, and tasty products like new Buddy Fruits fruit paste in a squeeze tube from Ouhlala in France (as in Ooh La La!), perfect for lunches; Pukka Herbs, from clever Brits who craft herbal teas and personal care; and Fruitwell, freeze-dried fruit snacks from the Pacific Northwest, aka God’s Country (so says Grandma Julie).

Stories of regional allure abound at Expo West. Hawaii Kai, maker of pure sea salts from Molokai, tells of their microeconomic business model that honors the island’s quest for the delicate balance between nature and commerce, while resurrecting the time-honored Hawaiian craft of salt making. Also on hand was the self-described “rocket-scientist-turned-spice connoisseur” whose Awaken Savor handcrafted blends enhance regional cuisines. Canaan Fair Trade’s delicacies and personal care lines from Palestine promote Fair Trade.

The presence of marquee exhibitors like Clif Bar and Aubrey Organics sets a smart, confident tone that rubs off on smaller exhibitors, and reminds everyone who has a stake in the game that growth, success, and brand dominance are within reach. 

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