Agriculture goes further than the field. To be able to provide the best possible product to an audience someone needs to understand their product and the influences the market has on them. In Mali there are large considerations when selling produce at the market such as:
What is an appropriate price for this product?
What product is in demand?
Is there a gap of product that I could provide?
And ultimately, what can I do to make my products stand out compared to other sellers?
In December, David Pierce presented two remote training sessions tackling these topics by explaining different tools to write a well-rounded, focused and SMART marketing plan. He worked with the Convergence of Rural Women for Food Security (COFERSA) and the Farmers Union of Coulibalybougou (FUC) in Sikasso to work with participants to identify problems, prioritize and create a marketing plan.
In marketing strategy the seller needs to think about every aspect that goes into creating the product. What’s the price of the product? Where is it sold? How is it going to be promoted? Who is involved in delivering it? These are all important questions to be answering because the process of creating it, to putting it in the hands of the consumer, can be long with multiple people involved. This is a process everyone, whether they are in the United States or Mali, big or small, needs to follow in order to maintain or build a positive relationship with their customer.
During the presentation David used the information above. Participants were shocked to see the largest number of consumers that leave a company are because they believe the company does not believe they are being cared about. To reduce the number of people leaving a company for that reason, there needs to be a win-win relationship between the company and the customer. A win-win relationship gives both parties the best outcome without compromising on the product, providing trust and reliance between both parties.
In the beginning of making a marketing plan it’s important to consider what the problems are in the current operations of making the product. David had the participants work together to create a list of possible issues that could be solved with a plan. The group collected 10 topics with a smart goal in mind that is smart, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely.
“Appreciating setting the smart goals. We can set goals like a dream but the language is not clear, not specific. We don’t know when and it’s not measurable. The smart goals make it more clear and measurable,” said one participant.
Some of those problems included quality, promotion and credits, but how do you prioritize these issues when they can be significantly different?
The Eisenhower Box is a way to prioritize tasks and eliminate others that are not worth working on. It’s a way to stay organized without becoming overwhelmed, it gives a path to start with rather than having a cloud of tasks in someone’s mind at once.
Here’s an example:
In the group of problems the group developed one of them included the price of the product. If you are trying to sell a product this is a large component of someone being able to purchase it as well as the profit you are able to make off of it. With that being said, it is considered an important issue so it is placed in the top row. Let’s say we also know all of the costs that go into making this product, so now it is considered urgent because you know all of the background information to lead toward a price before putting it in front of the customer. This would lead you to the conclusion that you should do this task now.
All of the topics that were brainstormed can be put through this tool to prioritize certain things, delegate others and eliminate some all together. This is the beginning of making a marketing plan because a person is able to analyze this specific problem to solve it and increase the selling of the product.
After the training the participants will be able to implement the new skills as well as pass their knowledge onto others. Through their new tools they will rebuild trust, confidence and motivation to improve their competitiveness in the market. Like all of our volunteers, David will continue to follow up with COFERSA and FUC to provide guidance as they implement their plans.
“Thank you for the presentation, translator and experts. All the participants for us to share our experiences and build on our capacities,” said another participant.