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Learnings from the Marketing Support Scheme

Earlier this year we launched the BFT Marketing Support Scheme, offering packages of help to Better Food Trader members who wanted to create a specific marketing campaign but didn’t have the resources to do so.

We had 20 applications and supported all but two – awarding a total of just over £10,000 to Better Food Trader organisations. We delivered a total of 18 hours of mentoring and advice, with support offered through the summer to help people plan their campaign, write design briefs where relevant, commission design/technical work, and execute their ideas. We also provided external training and support via Improper Agency and Blue Cactus Digital.

What people did…

We were really pleased to see a wide range of marketing approaches and activities implemented – some of them quite innovative and unusual.

Learnings from the Marketing Support Scheme 1

For example, Cambridge Organic ran a county-wide survey incentivised with prizes to gather information on how the people of Cambridgeshire feel about veg box schemes. Kat from Cambridge Organic said: “The soft marketing campaign approach received high engagement and drove good brand awareness. We now have some really useful information and warm leads to move forward with. Really like this use of a ‘lead magnet’ and would like to do more of this type of campaign.”

Shillingford Organic launched a new Buyers’ Club service, which they promoted via social media, their newsletter, direct emails and an open day on the farm. They have so far had 4 groups signing up to receive regular or semi-regular orders of bulk vegetables, bought at a discount on the basis that Shillingford do not have to do so much individual packing and delivery.

SMART London went out to gain local press coverage and found that, although this didn’t generate many direct sales, the article in their local magazine led to a local business referring them to a grant scheme. They ended up securing a £5,000 grant to purchase an e-cargo bike, so the coverage definitely paid off in other ways.

Learnings from the Marketing Support Scheme 2

  • Grown Green ran a successful Crowd Funding campaign and smashed their £9,000 target!
  • Local Greens, OrganicLea and In My Back Yard all created social media advertising campaigns.
  • Pennine Cropshare did a rebrand and ran a marketing event at one of their pick-up points.
  • Leeds Veg Box branded up their delivery van.
  • Granville Community Kitchen rebuilt their website and launched some new pricing structures and products.
  • Most other organisations created some kind of leafleting campaign, often backed up with a social media campaign. For more insights on Leafleting, come to our Lunchtime Special 12-1pm on Tuesday 31st October.

Here are some nuggets of wisdom that people wanted to share about their marketing campaigns:

“Every van I get in the future I will get branded. I cannot believe it took me so long to get this one branded up, it’s a moving advert for my business!”

Learnings from the Marketing Support Scheme 3“Use more people/team photos on social media posts to boost engagement.”

“It’s important to spend time on ensuring that the campaign goal is optimal and well thought through.”

“Your website and the words on it really matter. You can control the flow of customers / ads / views / clicks if you give it time and thought. Think like a customer and also like a google ad when you write copy – a difficult but effective thing to pull off.”

“We’ve redesigned our website so people would be funnelled through to where we wanted them. This was money really well invested and I am sure will reap rewards.”

As well as reaching their Crowd Funding target, Grown Green also said: “veg boxes orders increased by 60-75% over June-July, and we’ve gained an extra 100+ followers on Instagram – 30% up since the campaign started” – so a crowdfund campaign is a great marketing tool in addition to the primary goal of raising money.

“There was too much information on the leaflet and so the message to join up to Instagram was too hard to see and act upon.” – Remember, less is more when it comes to marketing messages and calls to action. If you throw one ping-pong ball at someone, they will catch it; if you throw ten, they may not catch any!

“It’s very hard to track brand awareness but it’s an important part of marketing that I suspect many small businesses don’t really want to spend money on. Most want an instant return on investment but the more people who know you exist, the more likely you are to get customers in the long run.”

In hindsight….

We would have timed the BFT Marketing Support Scheme a little differently so the main marketing activities would not have coincided with the summer months – a number of you commented that some of your target customers were on holiday at that time so it wasn’t the ideal period. However, many of you said the scheme had given you new skills and resources for the long term: “The funding was very useful and we now have lots of great flyers to use at events.”

So was the Scheme a success?

94% of organisations who took part found the scheme ‘useful’ or ‘very useful’. The financial support was seen as the most useful element, but the mentoring and external help from digital and design agencies were also very well received. “My mentoring meeting was incredibly insightful and I should have reached out for more of that.”

“I was really impressed with this support both financially and the mentoring, and very grateful that you responded to requests to extend the campaign time. It was very helpful and also is very encouraging that you are listening to our needs – very rare and very much appreciated.”

Something we’re really pleased to say is that 100% of organisations who took part said the BFT Marketing Support Scheme was useful for helping to try something new – in fact, 90% said it was ‘very useful’.

“We would really have never solved our Facebook issues, or had proper access to Instagram, without this fund and now our first ad campaign will likely not be our last!”

Main image: Photo by Jess Bailey on Unsplash

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