Marketing and monsters, oh my!

strategic marketing is like gardening

I’m going bonkers dealing with a bug invasion of monster proportions in my organic vegetable and herb garden. Each day as I struggle to salvage what I can with precious and scarce water reserves, I find myself chanting a mantra borrowed from Harvey Mackay, “Don’t water your weeds.” Of course, he used this phrase as an analogy for good strategic marketing or just plain smart business practices, but it certainly applies to both marketing concepts and propagating plants.

Murphy’s Law has been haunting me this year at the farm. Since I opened with the produce issues, I’ll refrain from straying to other concerns (and will get this treatise back to strategic marketing and sales tips shortly).

strategic marketing is like gardening

Fortunately the herbs are still doing well. Here’s some sage that’s become much heartier since this shot.

For brevity’s sake, here’s the short story. Rain’s been rare with only one significant watering since March (the May weekend I scheduled a garage sale, of course). Temperatures have been sweltering with little relief (very unusual in the Upstate New York area where Halcyon Acres® is located).

The good news is, unseasonable warmth offered an opportunity to plant crops early. Unfortunately, the heat caused most quick crops to bolt before they could be harvested. So, hot-loving plants became my strategy to carry the produce business through the primary selling season.

Then, one day, no water during drought conditions. Yikes! It’s going to take a backhoe able to dig and replace the line to render a fix (not a small or easy project – finding an available contractor with equipment that can manage a steep, narrow hill, shale and soft ground near the well is not a simple task).

My marvelous plumber friend (and vendor) managed a temporary fix. The above-ground line five feet higher to a pump working pretty hard to draw from the distant well is a strain that’s meant some challenges holding a prime, so water flow is limited.

With no water, the garden plants have become stressed and the bugs are attacking with a vengeance. Consequently, you can bet I’m determined to ensure there’s not a single weed slurping up the little water being given to the planted fare.

 Don’t wallow in your weeds

Good marketing concepts – and skills to alter course when circumstances change – are like gardening. This agility is a hallmark of small businesses. So often, it’s attitude – including a willingness to learn and experiment with new things – that sets the successes apart from the failures.

Honesty, I don’t know if I’m going to win this one in the garden, but you can bet I’m trying to eliminate the appeal for the pests with everything suggestion available that doesn’t include noxious solutions.

The same holds true with good strategic marketing principles. It’s important to hold strong with values when considering options to address challenges (in this case of an organic garden supplying clients – we’ve made a promise of no chemicals so will lose everything before we go this route). It’s foolish not to ask for help when you’re faced with new issues you have no idea how to combat.

Getting defensive with marketing tactics

Although it’s not ideal, sometimes the only way to handle problems is with a reactive strategy. The bugs have invaded and the only way to salvage what’s left is to discourage current beliefs this place is a happy feast.

Perhaps you made a mistake with your marketing strategy and have a bit of a mess to clean up? Ignore it or deny it and you’re likely to lose credibility – or clients. Admit the problem, indicate you’re putting strong effort into solving the issue and do it. I’m moving the voracious critters around the garden (it was like finger nails on a chalk board listening to them devour the corn today as I worked to move them off nearby squash), but haven’t yet found an answer to get them gone.

Whenever you’re facing a new challenge, consider asking for help. I put the call out to organic Linked In groups, neighbors, local farmers and friends and found solutions ideas I wouldn’t have considered.

A white vinegar and garlic spray did no good. Ditto for the blender aloe vera fix. Egg shells are now laid in an attempt to pierce exoskeletons (this is actually working best with the potato bugs who don’t have one – go figure) and I’ve initiated some companion planting strategies gleaned from research.

Oddly, what seems to be working best (to at least move these buggers off the areas they’re killing) is black cloth. So, I’ve spent more time (and money) trying to put this over the worst infestations areas. Seems to be working to salvage what’s left of the favored delectables, but isn’t doing anything to reduce the population and associated menace (in fact, these varmints seem to be multiplying exponentially with every minute that passes).  I’ve never seen these bugs before, and am starting to wonder if they’re a product of the GMO corn planted nearby. They’re black and yellow striped and about ¼ inch in length. If any of you have an idea as to what they are – or even better, a solution to get rid of them without chemicals – I’d be in your debt for the answers.

Resetting the marketing mindset

Sometimes we don’t have control over what life throws us. Strategic marketing needs to be amended when your precepts don’t hold true if successful is your goal.

I’ve spent more time gardening this year than ever. Extra care has gone to adding and blending in (with a potato fork) rich compost, ensuring I don’t ‘water my weeds,’ replanting in areas where early crops have been harvested (or lost), moving soaker hoses around daily to provide adequate and proper root growth and nutrition, laying straw and other water retention tools to combat the drought and checking on plants every day to ensure there are no issues. I also did some early marketing that drew exited clients to capacity.

Under ordinary circumstances, this would have been the best ever harvest and return. Weather proved my assumptions wrong. With water, I managed to fool Mother Nature and limp along adequately. The waterline break was unforeseen, and a critical blow.

Fortunately, I’m diversified enough in my business activities that, while this hurts, I can regroup and refocus. This begs the question – are you depending on a single source of income or majority client for your survival? Don’t!

2 Responses to Marketing and monsters, oh my!
  1. Arwen
    July 14, 2012 | 6:12 pm

    A lot to think about. I liked the gardening analogy–particularly the “don’t water your weeds.” That was pretty profound for me.

    • Nanette Levin
      July 15, 2012 | 1:06 pm

      Thanks again for stopping in, Arwen. I wish I could claim “don’t water your weeds” is mine, but that gem came from Harvey Mackay. Still, it’s something I can relate to in so many ways. Glad you could too.

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