Starting a company: Know your market (part 2)

Understanding your competition and how to target your customers can be a crucial part of your success. Make sure you are prepared for your launch.

Competition lookup

Getting to know your future competitors will help you in multiple ways. You should take a detailed look at their product portfolio, their customers, their brand identity and social media presence. From these take notes, you should then be able to identify and build on relevant markers, such as essential crops, customer base types or some marketing flaws.

For example in my case, almost all my B2B microgreens competitors have a somewhat weak social media presence and most of them don’t have a proper company name and logo. Now, for a B2B marketing that isn’t a huge deal, but it could certainly be for a B2C model. And of course, it doesn’t mean in any way that their business is not going to be doing well, but it can tell you what you can do to position yourself a little bit better. On the other hand, the fact that your competition doesn’t do something might have a reason behind it – and they probably know better than you, since they are already in there, so keep that in mind.

Especially in the beginnings and if you do not have previous sales experience, most likely you will be wondering how to price your products. Again, a monitoring of the competition should give you at least a rough estimate what you can count with. And the list of things you might be wondering about before launching just goes on and on, so checking out the market is the easiest way that will cost you only time.

Mystery shopping

In case you want to go really deep in research on your competition, one of the possibilities, even though it can be considered slightly unmoral, is mystery shopping. It is a tool mainly used externally by market research companies or internally by companies themselves to measure quality of service or to gather specific information. Basically, you would act as a potential customer and that way you could get price, technology, customer service or any other kind of information. This can be very effective if you are striving for precise data.

However, and what I definitely prefer, is a simple friendly email or call. The results will vary from person to person, and the data might not be as accurate, but the idea of making friends in the field is always nicer. After all, urban farming is about sharing and cooperation among many small individual units, you’d better make some partners as well.

Prelaunch testing

Getting the first feedback on your product is super easy. Once you are content with your offer, the product, the packaging, and the overall service, just present it to people are you for free. Give your friends a pack of microgreens as a midday snack. Watch closely their reaction and ask what they think about it. What is their opinion on package design? What about the sizing? Are the microgreens fresh and tasty? What could make them actually buying it? Again, it will be somewhat biased, but a honest opinion is always valuable. It’s not going to cost you much of an extra, since you have been most likely doing trials and test already before anyways.

Target your customer

The last listed, but unquestionably very important as well, is connecting with customers. Think of all channels you could use to advertise your production. There are many opinions whether focus strongly only on 1-2 channels or go all out across the whole spectrum, and the answer is ultimately yours. The decision is only on you because only you know how many you will be able to manage, if you will meet your designated quality of presentation, and if it will be the right platform to reach your audience.

It can be absolutely anything, from classics like social media pages and posts, starting a blog, through having a booth at events or cooperating with local businesses, to creating something completely new and unusual. Obviously, marketing is an area of its own and you will be able to find loads of articles and tips all over the internet, so be sure to dive deep into that as well.

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