[Small town business is competitive, but we’re also cooperative. That’s why Shelby French’s presentation at the 140 Characters Conference in Central Sierra caught my attention. It’s her job to get local businesses cooperating even though they are nominal competitors. -Becky]
|Shelby French promotes “coopetition”|
at the Angels Camp Farmers Market.
Being tasked with marketing the Angels Camp Farmers Market and with promoting its participating vendors and sponsors is the perfect job for someone like me. Thru Social Media I am able to not only promote the details and events of each week at the market but also the 50 plus participants responsible for its success. By doing so, I then increase my Social Media exposure every time I promote one of them.
Let me offer an example. August 19th, the weekly theme for the market is Cobbler Night. Let’s say on the Monday prior to the 19th, I post on my Facebook to my 115 fans the details of the theme. The cobbler cooking demonstrations, or the participating farms who are offering their favorite cobbler recipes using their fruits. My favorite cobbler is cherry. So on Tuesday I mention and tag our cherry farmer, Apkarian Family Farms, to their 148 fans. Wednesday I post a cobbler recipe provided by the chef at Black Oak Casino one of our market sponsors, reaching their 1600 fans.
Thursday I mention and tag our weekly participant, Angels Food Market and their private labeled cherry jam and syrups, 675 fans. And finally on Friday, I tag The Red Apple and their flaky good cherry pies and cobblers, 211 fans. Potentially, in one weeks time I have helped promote 5 local companies and potentially reached 2749 facebook fans.
Of course, as most of us know, that reach is based on one very important small easy task that we all can do. Will those five companies mentioned reciprocate by reposting and sharing my post with their fans or will it only sit there on their wall as a mention, for only page visitors to see. By simply reposting and sharing, together we enter into a reciprocating relationship sometimes referred to as “Coopetition”. Coopetition is defined as combining the advantages of both cooperation with competition to create a new business dynamic. Its where business’s with a common thread can work together to compete for a consumers social and hard currency, thus working together to increase each others social media visibility.
Working in the Napa wine industry as marketing manager for a winery during the explosion of social media as a small business tool, this was a vigorous and progressive marketing tactic and us wineries vying for attention along the picturesque Silverado Trail were all to happy to reciprocate with each other. After all, there is no such thing as a wine drinker who only enjoys one kind of wine from one source. That’s the romance of wine, its in the discovery and the variety to be discovered and the emotional response attached to that discovery.
|A farmers market can be more than food. Fresh Fridays|
include baked goods, wine and drinks, live music
and a craft fair.
Simply by working to align yourself with like businesses or industry, you can work together to share your social media market therefore increasing your exposure considerably thru your Coopitition efforts.
An example of this might be a number of local Sierra wineries set up a special progressive tour package, maybe culminating with lunch or dinner at a local restaurant. If all participants simply agree to share promotion and positive brand messaging of each other thru social media, you can create great synergy and social visibility. Now obviously local wineries share many of the same fans and followers, but this wine region is growing and continues to be discovered by new fans everyday from outside the counties. And if you like wine, than you like lots of wine. If you like Cherries, then you like Cherry Pie, and probably Jams, and you like to Cook, and you like Farmers Markets.
I wanted to discuss this today because this is one aspect of Social Media as a marketing tool that I do not see businesses use well or often enough. And I know that it’s probably because for some people they are still in that mind-set of…I should have a Facebook Page or Twitter account because it’s the progressive thing to do. but I hope and challenge businesses to really understand social media as a marketing tool. The Coopetition reference is simply one of the ways you can use social media for successful marketing. But we all need to also understand social media and its relevance to your business or message. Don’t simply be burdened by the task management of posting a couple or more times a week because you’re losing the opportunity to brand yourself. If I have taken the time to “Like” your page or follow your “tweets” then I am already a fan. Now reinforce that brand message and build that loyalty. Are you using social media to show why your business is special? Why consumers choose you over your competition? Are you showing us visuals of happy clients? Are you relating to your community and our shared interests by showcasing relevant news and events?
After today, I encourage us all to take a look beyond our own walls and feeds, beyond our dashboards and visit a few companies with a heavy social media presence here in the Sierras. Ask yourself, what is your overall impression of them and their service? Are they successfully branding themselves thru social media? Ask yourself if there is a way that you can work them into your own self-promotion benefiting the both of you.
In closing, I wanted to share this unique collaboration I have as marketing manager of the Angels Camp Farmers Market, and I really I wanted to share just how rewarding this collaborative use of social media is for me. To have the opportunity to promote these fine local market vendors who work the earth in order to grow fresh, organic fruits and vegetables to nourish us, who lovingly create wonderful food products and baked goods to feed our bodies and satisfy our pallets, even those who pick their guitars in the blazing hot sun to entertain us. These are the small businesses and people that form our community, and I shamelessly plug their hardworking efforts, and I hope that you will also by supporting and visiting our Farmers Market. Thanks so much.
If you’d like to hear more stories and participate in more conversations about small towns doing cool stuff with social networks, join us at the 140 Characters Conference SmallTown in Hutchinson, Kansas, September 20.
Cited in academic research:
- Several determinants of successful coopetition in small business, Stephanie J. Thomason, Earl Simendinger and Dylan Kiernan, Journal of Small Business & Entrepreneurship, 2013
- From Cooperation to the 3C Model – A Photo Theoretical, original Polish title: Od Kooperencji Do Modelu 3c – Ujęcie Teoretyczne, Dr. Celina Sołek-Borowska, Institute of Management, Department of Enterprise Management, Main School Handlowa in Warsaw, Poland, Modern Management Review, vol. XIX, 21 (2/2014), pp. 129-140
- Social Cognitive Theory as a Framework for Understanding the Relationships Between Competition and Cooperation: A Three Essay Story of Emerging Coopetition and Entrepreneurial Team Outcomes, Rebekah Gabrielle Swab, doctoral thesis, University of Mississippi, 2019
- About the Author
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Becky started Small Biz Survival in 2006 to share rural business and community building stories and ideas with other small town business people. She and her husband have a small cattle ranch and are lifelong entrepreneurs. Becky is an international speaker on small business and rural topics.