We realised that as of late we’ve been chatting with a lot of local food delivery enterprises from all over the world, which puts us in a privileged place to spot some of what’s working for different organisations, wherever they may be. We thought in the spirit of open source, we’d share our musings;
The landscape of finding & engaging with customers has changed with the emergence of social media. With social media has come an unprecedented opportunity to engage in meaningful conversation with your customers & stakeholders, and tell your own story like never before. One of the best things? With over 835 million people worldwide using Facebook & Twitter, many of your customers are likely to already be there and 100’s more potential customers in your area too.
Whilst most social media sites (such as Facebook & Twitter) are free to use, you should factor your time into the equation – like any conversation, listening as well as talking takes time. Consider super-targeted adverts on Facebook/Twitter/Google Ad Words. We also heartily suggest telling your story through a blog (like ours!) on Tumblr or WordPress, and for the more aesthetically inclined – share your story, your passion & your vision through sites like Pinterest or Vimeo.
Remember; make your dialogue about Quality not Quantity.
Call on existing resources & support
In several countries around the world, there’s now NGO’s & Government programs which are set up to help local food distributors get started, or iron out any problems. They vary from downloadable action packs to full immersive social enterprise courses!
So our suggestion? Research, and make use of anything out there which could help you – you’ll be surprised what’s available!
Just some of our favourite resource hubs include; Soil Association (UK), Making Local Food Work (UK), Wallace Centre (US), Sustain (UK), Eaterprises (Australia), Transition Network (Worldwide).
Get creative with Funding
There are plenty of ways to fund a local food enterprise beyond mortgaging your house with the bank. Our run down from the National Good Food Network webinar on funding local food tells you how!
Teaser for the NGFN blog: Co-operative model, LION networks, Crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter, Micro/e-Lending platforms like Kiva, Slow Munis, Local Community Pre-Sales, Local Stock Exchanges, Investment Clubs like Slow Money.
See more here: Cutting-edge ways to Fund your Local Food business
Leverage free & low cost tools
Let the explosion of innovation & applications that resulted from mobile technology play into your hands! The great news about the Mac App Store, Google Play & Chrome Store is that there are more applications than ever which can help you run your business more efficiently, and many of them are free.
Whether you need to manage your to-do list [Wunderlist], collaborative project management [Trello], communicate with your customers for nix [Skype], manage your social media marketing [Hootsuite], or simply use collaborative document sharing & calendars [Google Apps] – there’s a host of free apps out there.
We also would heartily suggest you check out some of the emerging technology, specifically around local food distribution. This is where we get to play. There’s several options out there now, which can manage customer accounts, help you manage packing & delivery logistics, and deal with the burden of payment reconciliation. Taking away the admin burden of local food distribution is one of the main barriers to growth we can see & are doing something about!
Be Authentic, Tell Your Story & be about More Than Profit
We keep coming back to this as a really important part of local food distribution. We all loathe greenwashing don’t we? So don’t do it – be authentic with the story of where you came from, where your food is produced, and how you play nice with others. We see local food distribution as being about values, and we constantly ask people to think about business in terms of ‘more than profit’.
Importantly, don’t ruin it for everyone. Local delivery, organics, farm-to-fork… it’s a tiny fraction of food distribution around the world. Don’t go stomping on it by picking fights with other people trying to do something similar in your area! Try thinking about converting other people away from mainstream supermarket shopping, and growing the local food economy?
Use your blog and social media to tell the story of your business. Make it about more than just ‘units’ and ‘weights of food’, and aim for something more aspirational – your Values. Use photography, words, infographics, videos & the great testimonials from your customers to show that you’re about supporting local farmers, delivering affordable organics, or whatever else it is that got you interested in local food delivery in the first place. But be authentic!
Here’s some of our favourite use of Creativity in Local Food to get you started.
Do you have any more top tips to share?
You can now see the expanded version of this blog here: