The Four Seasons of Sales and Marketing for Good Food Brands

The Four Seasons of Sales and Marketing for Good Food Brands

The change of seasons always gives me a lift. Spring to summer to fall to winter. It's a lovely cycle. - Georgiana Dearing

All things are made beautiful in their time. Everything has its proper timing, and every action or idea is attenable if you are sensitive to its flow and when it should come to fruition.

Business planning is no different, and if you’re a food business and sales and marketing activities are consuming lots of mental energy, then there’s no easier way to align your strategy and campaigns than with the cycles of food and farming seasons. 

Every season has its own characteristic that is comparable to a phase of your business cycle. Spring is for planting, summer for nurturing, autumn for harvesting, and winter for rest and renewal. Sales and marketing activities complement each season, just as nature drives every part of the process of growth.

Even with each season mapped out, there is still a level of volatility involved because there are many things that may be out of your control. However, science, technology, and marketing principles are on your side, so you shouldn't be reactionary in your business. Knowing when each season is coming, you can proactively and successfully plan ahead for the coming months to yield profit and success.

Virginia Foodie Essentials:

  • Seasonal quarters don't align with fiscal quarters and I'm not expecting anyone to change their financial forecasting just to manage a marketing plan.

  • Planting. Nurturing. Harvesting. Rest and renewal. That's the cycle of farm life and also a good model for the packaged food industry.

  • Farming doesn't happen in the spur of the moment. The weather and nature are forces that a farmer cannot control, farming is not a reactionary business. Your business shouldn't be reactionary, either.

  • Make a plan for each season of your sales and marketing, and you'll be prepared for whatever storm that hits.

Key Points From This Episode:

  • Spring is for “planting” activities for food brands, including laying the foundation for future growth. This involves seeking out new partners and exploring and building new communities.

  • Summer is for "nurturing" activities for food brands, including toiling the soil of new leads, meetings, and follow-up with category representatives, sharing your founding story to new followers, and building the name and face of your brand.

  • Autumn is for the “harvest” activities like prepping for end-of-year sales, closing newly-inked deals, and extending your audience before running campaigns.

  • Winter is the time for celebrating the year-end, reflecting on past performance and evaluating what worked and what didn't work, then making a plan for next year's cycle. Most importantly, in this season especially, always allot time to rest and renew.

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Full Transcript:

Note: We use AI transcription so there may be some inaccuracies

[00:00:00] Georgiana Dearing: Planting, nurturing, harvesting, rest and renewal. That's the cycle of farm life and also the packaged food industry. Farming doesn't happen in the spur of the moment.

[00:00:14] Georgiana Dearing: Welcome to the Virginia Foodie Podcast, where we lift a lid on the craft food industry and tell the stories behind the good food, good people, and good brands that you know and love. If you've ever come across a yummy food brand and wondered how did they do that? How did they turn that recipe into a successful business?

[00:00:33] Georgiana Dearing: Then we've got some stories for you.

[00:00:40] Georgiana Dearing: Hello fellow foodies and happy spring. I'm coming to you from the very northern tip of Virginia, and this year spring is not springing so much as it's lurching along. We've been having some fall, spring, one beautifully tender, warm and sunny day only to have it all yanked back to a day with below freezing temperatures, and one day even sleep and hail.

[00:01:04] Georgiana Dearing: Please push me po. You approach to the changing temperatures got me thinking about how the seasons are reflecting what is happening within the food industry in general. We are ready to spring forth with renewed hope and to rebound from the past two years, and yet we are still faced with the many of the challenges that came the Global Pandemic.

[00:01:26] Georgiana Dearing: Honestly, with all the other tensions in the world, politics, war, and the Pandemic, these tricks that Mother Nature has played on us are only adding to the edgy mood of just about everyone. I. I'm here to tell you that if you're feeling out of sorts right now, you are not alone. Even with the edginess that's all around us, I am still hopeful for spring because things are improving no matter how roughly they may transition.

[00:01:55] Georgiana Dearing: The change of seasons always gives me a lift spring to summer, to fall to winter. It's a lovely cycle. My friend Ashley Sutterfield recently shared a post about she's aligning her business with the seasons, and I thought it was a lovely way to organize your planning. Her tip was to focus on one theme for each quarter.

[00:02:17] Georgiana Dearing: Good food brands are so in tune with the earth that aligning your work with the seasonal changes is appropriate for the craft food. I took hold of Ashley's idea and I ran with it and she said it was okay. By the way, so today as the first fiscal quarter closed, for most of us with a rocky start to a new season, I thought I'd share with you some ideas for planning your sales and marketing to align with the seasons.

[00:02:45] Georgiana Dearing: Seasonal quarters don't align with fiscal quarters, and I'm not expecting anyone to change their financial forecasting just to match a marketing. When I think of the selling cycle for food, the biggest window of sales, particularly for B2C e-commerce ends just after Thanksgiving weekend with the close of sales for Christmas gift deliveries and for planning purposes.

[00:03:10] Georgiana Dearing: I've shifted these marketing quarters to line up with our behavior and not the fiscal calendar. I'm trying it myself this year, and I'll be sure to report back to you how it goes. But for today, let me talk to you about the seasons of sales and marketing. Spring is the planting season, the time for starting those little seeds, pushing them down in the soil, watering them, shining the grow lights, and doing a little wishing for the future.

[00:03:38] Georgiana Dearing: For food marketing. The spring season, and I'm speaking in quotes now, mirrors much of the time of new beginnings q1. This spring is the time of year to lay the groundwork for a year of sales. If you've done a little goal setting at the start of the year, spring is the time to seek new partners who will help you hit those sales targets that you've set for yourself.

[00:04:01] Georgiana Dearing: Do your research and begin the. When you find partners that sell to look alike audiences to yours, the early part of the year is the time to make connections. It can take several months to close with a new retail partner, so plant those seeds early. You wanna have a flourishing relationship before that end of the year.

[00:04:22] Georgiana Dearing: Sales frenzy on the communication side. Spring is also a good time for audience building as you network with new businesses to a little social networking. Reach out to other audience and make connections. Perhaps partner with influencers to get your brand on their fans' radar or connect with business or community groups in your markets.

[00:04:44] Georgiana Dearing: Start the habit of networking now and you'll reap the benefits. Come harvest time this year in my shifted cycles, my spring started in March and more, and in. , whatever way you line up your planning quarters spring for food marketing should include foundation for sales growth, seeking new partners and the foundations for audience growth through exploring new communities.

[00:05:10] Georgiana Dearing: Now that those seeds have begun to sprout, summer is your season to nurture them weeding and watering, intending what you. Follow up with those new contacts. If you haven't heard back after four to seven days, circle back with a follow up. Simply resending your first message with a new subject line and a quick note at the start that says, I know how follow an inbox can get, so I'm just resending this in case you missed it.

[00:05:37] Georgiana Dearing: Maybe just the nudge they need to give you an. Remember, it can take up to eight touches to close the sale, so don't give up after one attempt to book a meeting. Set yourself a goal to schedule three new meetings by the end of July and keep it on your to-do list. If you make moving toward that goal priority, then I'm sure you'll hit the mark for your social audience.

[00:06:00] Georgiana Dearing: Summer is a great time to layer in more storytelling to keep those new followers engaged. Picking one element of your brand message and elaborating on that by showing instead of telling while, keep them engaged without feeling like they're hip. The barrage of sales messages. How would you show your audience, how your brand finds, selects and uses quality ingredients without telling them we use the highest quality ingredients?

[00:06:28] Georgiana Dearing: Finding that personal connection is what makes you stand out from the competi. Summertime for food marketing includes communicating and nurturing with your new contacts, meetings, and follow up with category reps, storytelling to your new audience, followers, and brand building. As we move into fall in Virginia, not only is it the time for school to start and for leaves to change colors, it's also the time we push to get the most out of crops before the final harvest.

[00:07:00] Georgiana Dearing: For specialty food brands, the harvest time means all hands on deck. There's the push to get the waters in the door, and then sometimes even bigger push to get your products out the door and to your customers. Autumn should carry some urgency for you too, as it's your time to wrap up preparations for the holiday selling season.

[00:07:21] Georgiana Dearing: For retail sales, you should be closing up on those new deals because anything left undone by October probably won't be looked at again until the start of the new year. Don't leave opportunities on the table. Be assertive in scheduling those follow-up meetings and don't delay on any of the actions that your team needs to complete.

[00:07:41] Georgiana Dearing: The rush of the holidays works both ways in retail sales. Both the manufacturers and the category managers are run ragged as shoppers prep for parties, gift giving and family gatherings. Now's the time also to do a little reach extension on your social platforms. You'll be hitting them up for sales later in the year.

[00:08:01] Georgiana Dearing: Make one last. Reach out to grow your audience for your. Autumn for food marketing is to prep for the end of year sales, close on new deals, and boost some storytelling to reach new audiences before the holiday rush. Winter is coming, Sid Ned Stark. And while that had ominous overtones in Game of Thrones, the underlying message is that one should always be prepared in the craft food business.

[00:08:29] Georgiana Dearing: The end of the year does come with a bit of the same leery Anticip. It can mean the highest sales volume, but those high sales come with high stress. The early part of the winter season is marked by year end spending, and then for most food categories, it can drop right off. That is the time to celebrate the year's closing rest of it and reflect on your recent performance.

[00:08:53] Georgiana Dearing: That reflection, that's that reflection should include an evaluation of what worked and what didn't work, and should also include a planning session to establish what you'll focus on in the new. Planting, nurturing, harvesting, rest and renewal. That's the cycle of farm life and also the packaged food industry.

[00:09:11] Georgiana Dearing: Farming doesn't happen in the spur of the moment. You can't plant the seeds if you didn't order them. And you need a planting diagram before you order the seeds. A successful farm requires planning, and I'm reminded of a video that Jessica from Harmony Harvest Farm shared last year about her preparation for a coming storm.

[00:09:30] Georgiana Dearing: Her husband was traveling, she was home alone, and a heavy snowstorm was on its way. She couldn't control when or how the storm might hit, but she had a plan for how to keep her hoop houses safe and her seedlings from freezing. Even though the weather in nature are forces that a farmer cannot control, farming is not a reactionary business and your business shouldn't be either.

[00:09:53] Georgiana Dearing: Winter is coming and so are fall and summer and spring. Again, make a plan for each season of your sales and marketing and you'll be prepared for whatever storm that hits. And that's a wrap on another Marketing Monday. If you enjoy this podcast, please give it a thumbs. Leave a comment and share it with your friends or colleagues who might be interested.

[00:10:15] Georgiana Dearing: And thank you for listening today. Thanks for listening. And if you wanna learn more about how to grow your own food brand, then click on Grow My If you're a lover of local food, then be sure to follow us. We are at VA Foodie on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Join the conversation and tell us about your adventures with good food.

[00:10:40] Georgiana Dearing: Good. And good brands.