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Think about an established farmers market with an established customer base.

Everyone shopping at that market has their preferred vendors.  They buy lettuce from this guy and they buy tomatoes from that girl week after week.  They don’t switch it up.

If you then enter that market as a new vendor, how do you knock someone out of the preferred vendor spot in a customer’s mind? How do you get the customer to switch to buying lettuce or tomatoes from you instead of that guy or that girl?  Because that’s really what you need to do.  Either you need to get existing customers to switch or you need to pick up market share from new customers. The bad news is that once a person commits to a particular product or brand in their mind it’s very hard to get them to switch.  

Look no further than you own habits.  How often do you go to different grocery stores or gas stations by your house or how often do you change brands of laundry detergent or ketchup?  Probably not very often.  You made a decision long ago, and as long as things do change, why switch.

Given that, how do you compete in a crowded farmers market?  Why is a farmer’s market customer going to choose your booth versus the booth that they always shop at?

You have to be unique..

Again, look at the landscape of the market, if there are already 5 vegetable vendors at your market more or less growing what you grow, and they are established, then you either have to be unique enough to go in and compete with them hand try to knock one of them out of the top 5 in terms of market share, which is hard, or you have to be unique enough so you don’t actually have to compete against them.  Instead positioning yourself in the customers mind as the preferred choice.

How do you do that, make yourself unique?

One way is to specialize in something.  

Part of that specialization might mean differentiating your product so you position yourself as the category leader; a category that you own; one that you create.

For example, say a lot of vendors are selling loose leaf lettuce.  There’s already an established hierarchy there in terms of market share for the category of loose leaf lettuce.  How do you compete?  

You don’t, avoid competition, and you create your own category. Maybe that category is head lettuce or romaine.  Or maybe it’s organic lettuce.  Or living lettuce with the roots still attached.  You differentiate your product just enough to move it to its own category.  Then you become first to market in that category and have an competitive advantage.  That’s a far cry from going into a competitive market and competing on price.  And when you think about it it wasn’t really that hard.  You didn’t have to create or invent anything new. You just supplied an in demand product to a market that wanted it, but didn’t have anyone to buy it from.

That’s one of the many benefits of specializing in a product.  And it’s that benefit and the many others that we will be talking about today, on The Urban Farmer.

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Direct download: TUFS2E13-2016.mp3
Category:permaculture -- posted at: 3:00am PDT