Thursday, July 26, 2007

Promote Our Brand, Keep Expanding?

Our heads were still reeling from the suggestions put forth by Wallace and Mr. Wong, when Wendy showed up at our door. What is it with the letter “W”? Three strikes and you’re out? Or is it third time lucky?

Wendy had an entirely different approach from her two predecessors. She didn’t want us to change a thing—she likes the operation as is. So what did she want, you ask?

She promised to put our brand name on the map.

Whereas now only a handful of retail outlets buy all of our produce, she proposed that through the magic of marketing and publicity, she would make the average consumer aware that our Lettuce, Herbs, and Pak Choi were absolutely the best, and that they should clamor for more.

“How can we possibly produce more? I asked naively. “Our four greenhouses are working to capacity; we have trouble fulfilling all the orders that come in.”

It seems that if the demand is created for a certain brand, by the rules of the marketplace the brand has to expand production to meet the demand.

“We’d have to double our greenhouse space if demand doubled,” said Chuck, “and that would mean putting the cart before the horse. Would the banks lend us the money to expand, on the possibility of future orders?”

“Not possibility,” answered Wendy, “certainty. By giving your brand name my treatment, I guarantee that demand for your produce will double in three months and exponentially increase over the next year.”

“What if you’re wrong? What if we expand and the market for fresh salad stuff and vegetables collapses? We’re left holding the bag and the bank has us on the hook for a huge amount,” countered Chuck.

Sounded like another pie in the sky venture to me. I drew Chuck aside and whispered in his ear to help me get rid of her. Chuck, however, had other ideas.

“Is your marketing company ready to come in as partners and take the risk with us?” he asked the visibly surprised Wendy. She hemmed and hawed but then she speed dialled a number on her cell and stepped outside to talk to her partner.

When she came back, she said that her partner had thoroughly researched our business and that he liked what he found. “He especially liked your use of Advanced Nutrients products,” she added.

Her partner turned out to be an avid gardener, who has used AN products for years. In fact, he applied the same fertilizer we did, Micro, Grow, and Bloom, even though he has an outdoor garden. AN products can be used equally well whether you grow in hydro or in soil.

“Ernie says that if that’s the way you want it, he’ll go for it. He’s tasted your Boston and Specialty Lettuce and he says it is the best of the lot grown in the area. He’s not too fond of Chinese food, so he passed over the Pak Choi tasting to me, but he loves your Herbs.”

So once again we’re consulting lawyers and drawing up partnership papers. I’m not so sure about all this, but Chuck was persuaded by the marketing company’s willingness to put its money where its mouth is.

Part of the 38-page contract is our solemn promise that we will use no other fertilizer, vitamin supplement, calcium additive, or root colonizer, other than the products made by Advanced Nutrients.

The contract even names the products—Micro, Grow, and Bloom (without the Bloom), Sensi Cal Mg Grow, B-52 (B-complex vitamin supplement), Grandma Enggy’s Humic Acid and Fulvic Acid, Piranha, Tarantula, and Voodoo Juice (root colonizers), Mother Earth Blended Super Tea Grow, and Grandma Enggy’s Seaweed Extract.

Wendy’s partner doesn’t miss a thing. The contract even mentions that Humic Acid is not to be used on the Herbs, which are marketed with their roots on. The rich black, organic additive colors the roots of plants black. For the Lettuce and the Pak Choi, whose roots get cut off before marketing, this is not a problem.

“It is imperative,” reads the contract, “ that Mother Earth Blended Super Tea Grow be added to the nutrient mix in all of the greenhouses, present and future, since the 100 % organic ingredients of this product will help balance the synthetic nature of the basic fertilizers used in this horticultural operation.”

“The alfalfa extract, canola, crab, fish, and shrimp meal, along with the citric acid, earthworm castings, and sea kelp nourish the Lettuce, Pak Choi, and Herbs in such subtle and tangible ways that synthetics are just not able to duplicate.”

“We, the undersigned, promise to keep on using all of these products and not take any shortcuts for cost-cutting or any other reason. The present high quality of our produce is to be kept intact, otherwise this contract becomes null and void.”

Chuck and I have a few days to consider all the angles before we sign on the dotted line. We are researching their company, just to see whom we’re considering as future partners. Wish us luck!

posted by silvio @ 11:21 PM   0 comments


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