3 Great Ways for You to Compete With Harry & David, Mrs. Field’s, Costco and Other Giant Direct Sellers
From Labor Day through December, your clients receive catalogs from Harry & David, Mrs. Fields, and all the other giant food gift companies almost daily. As a result of their huge budgets and massive marketing efforts, these mail-order and internet companies sell about 10 times more food gifts to U.S. businesses each year than the entire promotional products industry does!
The key to competing with these giant companies is discovering their weaknesses.
In this article we will share three great case histories showing how distributors were able to easily take the business away from the giant food gift companies.
Case History No. 1
One distributor had a client who had been sending tins of peanuts as a holiday gift for many years. When he proposed that they switch from their current vendor to Maple Ridge Farms, he ran into some resistance—they were very happy with their current vendor. Not one to be easily deterred, he ordered a spec sample of our Choice Virginia Peanuts in the wooden collector’s box. Instead of putting their logo on the lid of the box, we did a line drawing of one of their locomotives. The client was very impressed with the line drawing of their locomotive on the wooden box. However, they really liked the peanuts they’d been buying for over a decade.
To this distributor’s surprise, when his client opened the box and tasted the peanuts he exclaimed, “Why, Jim, these peanuts are great.” Well, you know the rest of the story. Jim wrote an order for 500 boxes of peanuts with the help of a spec sample, and he has been getting a reorder every year. As an additional benefit, the distributor offered to have Maple Ridge Farms individually ship each gift to the recipient.
Today, many distributors use virtual spec samples rather than actual spec samples. They’re free, faster to get and easy to email, so it’s understandable. But one thing to remember is that virtual spec samples can’t be taste-tested, and Jim would not have written the order if his client had not tasted the peanuts!
Case History No. 2
While presenting holiday ideas, a Dallas-area distributor discovered her client was going to order over 200 towers from a well-known food gift company (a potential $15,000 order!). She quickly explained that she could provide food gifts with far greater value. Her customer was interested and wanted to know more.
She offered to bring in the gift from the giant food gift company and a similarly priced Maple Ridge Farms gift for a real-life, side-by-side comparison. Her customer liked that idea. When the two gifts arrived, she scheduled an appointment. Together they opened the carton from the giant food gift company. The customer was disappointed in the appearance of the gift compared to what it looked like on the website.
Most of the food was also rather disappointing and not very impressive. In many of the tower boxes, there was more air than food. The box of mixed nuts contained a tiny "airline-type” bag of nuts. The caramel corn only filled about half the box.
Next came the carton from Maple Ridge Farms. While not quite as large as the other tower, it looked better in real life than it did in the catalog. Each box was filled to the brim with premium chocolates and fresh roasted nuts.
Together they taste-tested the food from each gift, and the Maple Ridge Farms tower won hands down. This distributor was able to write a $15,990 order by going the extra mile to demonstrate the difference in quality. Once again, the distributor offered to have Maple Ridge Farms handle all the details of drop shipment to every recipient as well as including greeting cards.
Case History No. 3
A Texas distributor learned that his client was planning to order their holiday food gifts from one of the largest mail-order/internet food gift companies in America. They had selected a $70 cheese package that included a mediocre cutting board with some small, rather useless serving accessories.
To dramatically show the difference between the two gifts, he ordered the gift from the mail-order company and a spec sample of The Party Starter from Maple Ridge Farms. When both gifts arrived, he headed over to see his customer. After tasting the food from both gifts, seeing the difference in the quality of the cutting boards and how impressive their logo looked branded onto the cutting board, his client gave him the order for 150 cheese packages—a $10,800 order!
So, when going head-to-head with these giant food gift companies, it is important for clients to ask themselves the following questions:
- Will I get personal service from my distributor throughout the entire ordering process?
- Will my food gifts be fresh and packed to order?
- Can my gifts be imprinted with my company’s logo?
For more information on Maple Ridge Farms, visit www.mapleridge.com.