Marketing Your Product: Research First!!
How To Drive Success: Don’t just “grow something” and hope you can sell it; make sure you do test grows, market research, financial projections, and develop a marketing strategy first to see if it’s a good choice or not.
Marketing: What’s That?
Selling a product can be an intimidating process to people who have little experience selling. The best time for your “marketing plan” to begin is before construction of your system as you research to determine what you are going to produce during your “test grow” period (see the Test Grow section of this manual). Although you can’t get it perfect the first time around, you will do a “preliminary market survey” before you do your first test grow to get a general idea what is most valuable to try out during the test grow.
After you start to get data from test grows, and take samples to potential customers to determine pricing, you will have even better information on what to grow and where to sell it. To sell everything at the best prices, you need to determine what your market (your customer) wants and needs, then deliver the perfect product to them. A good marketing plan is simply a plan for finding out what the product is, then reaching your customer and delivering that product. What does a marketing plan consist of?
First Comes The Market Research:
This is the research phase that will help you determine the opportunities and challenges for your product. Many good or even great products fail because the market analysis step was either overlooked, incorrect, or not extensive enough. Sometimes, the same product is later successful for other entrepreneurs due to sufficient and correct market research and analysis! This step is where you define the target market at which you will focus your marketing efforts. It is where you find answers to lots of questions, some of which are:
- What is the market potential for your product in the area?
- What competitor’s products are on the market, at what prices?
- How fast is your product’s market growing?
- What does your typical customer look like?
- What does that typical customer need?
- Where are your customers located?
Demographic data (information about the location, age, income level, spending habits and family composition of your potential customers) and psychographic data (information on your customer’s hobbies, beliefs and lifestyles) help you identify your target market. Using this type of information helps determine the marketing strategies of price, promotion and placement. How do you find out this information? Talk to people!
Talk to people at Farmer’s Markets, and the produce managers of grocery stores, and your friends, and the members of your church, and the local produce distributor. Ask them what they want, or have trouble getting, or is really expensive. A really simple method of “market research” is to go to the stores and health food stores with a pad of paper and a pen; and simply walk around in the produce section writing down the items that are the most expensive and their prices! I mean, why would you want to grow something that sells for $2/lb when you can grow the same amount of something that sells for $4?
All of this information will help you decide what is most in demand; and when combined with the information on how easy and fast things grew during your test grow, will determine beyond a shadow of a doubt what is most financially rewarding for you to grow. This information can be potentially confusing, and it can be difficult to figure out which are the most profitable crops; unless you use a “Friendly” tool to organize and compare the information in an easily understandable form.
(Below) The “Friendly” Projection Tools are MicroSoft Excel spreadsheets (you need Excel to use them). We include a link to our “Spreadsheet Lite” right after this image (there are two additional spreadsheets that come with our 5-day live trainings; this is the free one). The second link right after it is the instructions for how to use this free spreadsheet. A screenshot of the “Spreadsheet Lite” tool is shown below.
With the data generated from your test grows and your market research, you can make projections using one of our Friendly Projection Tools ( the one we include for free here is what we call our “Spreadsheet Lite”), and predict your bottom line on a large-scale aquaponic operation before you risk your savings (next!).
Click this link to download the Instructions for our “Spreadsheet Lite”.
These are awesome tools, and will tell you if something is a good idea or not before wasting thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours growing it. You must do your homework during your test grow and record cycle times and weights accurately; the numbers these spreadsheets generate are fantasy if not derived from actual vegetable growth data from your location. Some of these numbers must come from the homework you did during your market research (see the Market Research topic in The Business Of Aquaponics section of this manual) and found out which of your test grow “winners” sold for the most money as compared to other crops.
Another important part of the market analysis is the competitive analysis. This is where you identify your competition and determine their strengths and weaknesses, and if the market is already saturated. It helps you identify what it is about what you offer that is better than the competition. The competitive analysis will provide you with information to help you produce a better product so it will have a greater chance for success in the marketplace.