As part of the research triangle, Raleigh has a significant portion of its population that fits the target market. For the Farmery to succeed, it only needs to capture a small portion of the market share. This is especially true because the store has a small footprint, and has the flexibility to set up on vacant lots without the costs of either renting or developing fixed real estate. The Farmery therefore needs to focus on two or three key elements to ensure adequate market penetration.
The first of these is location. Let it not be understated that location, location, location is critical to the success of any retail business. Because food is not normally something that people are willing to travel more than a few miles for, it is important that the Farmery target a neighborhood where there is a high concentration of individuals that fit the target market. There are several neighborhoods that have good potential, both those near the university and those that are further in the suburbs. The location should have ample parking and a substantial amount of foot traffic as well. Such a location will have broad -- based appeal and be able to draw customers from a broad by virtue of location on a high traffic artery. Locations near the university, where there is opportunity to capture a significant amount of student traffic, are considered to be particularly viable.
The second key success factor for market penetration is to ensure that awareness is at a very high level. The advertising strategy will be discussed in Section 3.2. Beyond advertising, the company needs to have a significant public relations strategy. This is critical for two reasons. The first is that the company is not particularly well-capitalized so it needs to find ways to increase its exposure at a low cost. The second is that the Farmery wants to attract attention from beyond its immediate area. By attracting such attention, the company can set the stage for future growth in the Raleigh area. The public relations plan should leverage the innovative concept to garner as much free press as possible, but for its architecture, its concept and for the food as well. Local media and national media coverage should be courted in order to gain maximum exposure. In addition there will be significant word-of-mouth initiatives in order to gain maximize exposure.
The third key success factor for market penetration is pricing. While in general vegetables are inexpensive, the main competitors for the Farmery can be fairly pricey. This creates a market opportunity that the Farmery can exploit. With high density production and no shipping costs, the Farmery is an a position of being able to undercut its larger competitors on price while simultaneously beating them on freshness as well. It will take a vastly superior value proposition in order to attract customers, because of the disadvantage that the Farmery has with its product line breadth (or lack thereof). It is believed, however, that the Farmery can produce at a price low enough to deliver such a superior value proposition.
3.2 Advertising Media
In addition to the extensive public relations campaign, some advertising will be required to help promote the new business. This will take two forms -- the digital media platform and the grassroots platform. Because the Farmery does not have much capital to start its business, it must focus on low-cost advertising strategies in order to maximize efficiency. The first step is to create a digital marketing program. Not only is digital marketing more cost-effective but it is better-targeted than conventional advertising media. Most of the digital content will be produced by the principals of the company. The platform will need to be multichannel in order to maximize exposure, with a heavy emphasis on social media. There are low costs associated with social media, mostly costs associated with producing content. Using the friends and family model of content production, the Farmery will set up a number of digital platforms -- website, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, etc. -- and use these to help create awareness of the concept. The company has already crowdsourced initial financing for its venture (Greene, 2012). An email mailing list is also an essential form of digital marketing that should not be overlooked, because it is actually the most popular way for people to interact online (Mandese, 2012). Among other ideas, YouTube videos can be produced illustrating how the concept works, and taking consumers through the back end production part of the facility. Other content can focus on the benefits, the location, social responsibility, involvement in the community and other relevant subjects. By providing information and active content, the Farmery's digital media platform will provide low-cost exposure, in addition to building a ready-made market for the next round of financing.
The advertising strategy in more conventional media is actually going to be unconventional. The company simply cannot afford at this moment in time to produce television and radio spots. The most conventional thing it can do is to market in local student and neighborhood papers, or campus radio. Otherwise, flyers and pop-up stalls in markets can help to gain exposure prior to opening (in addition to putting inventor from the prototype facilities to good use).
The core promotional message is going to highlight to two most significant offerings -- freshness and uniqueness. The freshness is the key product attribute that separates the Farmery from just about any of its competitors. This freshness will help the company to compete even against the largest of competitors. Initially, however, the concept itself will be a key selling point. Most people have never seen such a store as this, and the concept itself is going to bring people through the door. It is worth the effort to promote the concept and then link that concept to the core offering of the Farmery. This will create strong brand associations for consumers that associate the Farmery with this concept specifically. That association is going to be at the core of the company's differentiation strategy. It is essential that all marketing communication will serve to promote the differentiation of the Farmery from all other retail outlets, as a point of making the Farmery uniquely attractive and giving customers a good reason to be return visitors.
4.0 Management Plan
4.1 Company Organization
The Farmery is a small startup, but the organizational design is going to emphasize scalability. The analogy of the shipping container is apt here -- the store can be enlarged by adding another container, and the company should be structured in a similar, modular way so that it can grow quickly either with company-owned operations or with franchises. The organization structure is going to be based on each store, with a central head office. Initially, of course, these functions are all going to be performed by the two principles. As the company grows, the plans involve having a central head office in the Raleigh area where general administrative tasks are performed (accounting, HR, finance, etc.). There will be regional districts and then individual stores in the three-layer organizational structure. In the first store, the two principals will split duties between managerial and growing, with both splitting sales duties. Part-time staff will be introduced where needed in order to ensure that retail side of the business is staffed at all times.
4.2 Company Philosophy
The philosophy that guides the Farmery is "Fresh is best." This philosophy is rooted in the desire to increase the sustainability of our agro-retail system. Too many retailers, even "green" ones, rely on produce shipped from other parts of the country or even from other parts of the world. This is wasteful, inefficient, and ultimately needless. The Farmery provides a means for consumers to experience the freshest possible produce at a good price. They will be contributing to the increasing density of our cities as we use our urban spaces to increase agricultural production. Their money will remain in the city of Raleigh, so they are making a direct contribution to the local economy. In addition, they will be reducing the needless emission of greenhouse gases into our atmosphere. Customers will be encouraged to walk or bicycle to the store where possible in order to truly reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.
4.3 Personnel Policies
The personnel policies will be a reflection of the overall corporate philosophy. The philosophy will reflect the desire to create a healthy, diverse working environment. The jobs are, in general, ones that can be trained for. Thus, the hiring will focus on personal traits such as a positive attitude and a willingness to work hard towards a common goal. Thus, a sense of teamwork will be fostered that will help the company to overcome the various challenges that it will inevitably face as a new company trying to build the business. Over time, the personnel philosophy will emphasize providing for our employees as well, hiring from the local…