Nelle Baird runs MP Cheap Fruit and Veg – one of Australia’s first produce subscription box services. We’re honored to have her join us for our first Interview with a Marketer. This is a new monthly series and we invite you to nominate a marketer for upcoming interviews. But, now let’s chat with Nelle.
You’re running one of Australia’s first produce subscription box services. Tell us how it works.
Each Friday I chat with farmers and wholesalers about what’s around and excellent eating, we talk prices, volumes, varieties, longevity and taste. I make a couple of deals and head back to the office. I take the ingredients I’ve done deals on and punch them into Google to see what I need to make the best of them and then I try and make some more deals. Then, once we know what’s going in the box, I send an email to all of my customers asking them to log on and make any changes they want or place an order for delivery the next week. Throughout the week, we deliver the orders, and our customers eat! Almost all of the ordering and purchasing is done by our customers online, and we’ve got a model that allows us to keep waste to a minimum and serve fruit & veg at its best.
How did you come up with the idea?
I was hungry, and a bit poor….no seriously. My husband was building a new business, and I was in school and we were a bit broke. Feeding a 6 foot four vegetarian can get expensive, and I needed to cut costs. It started as a simple co-op between family and friends, with me doing the running around in exchange for not paying for our share of the produce. Before I knew it it had grown to take up all my time, and we had to either ditch it or I had to make a living out of it.
What’s a very abridged typical day like?
Up at 2.30 to shower, dress and eat (though sometimes I hit snooze and stink instead), out the door to the wholesale market. Melbourne and London are the two cities left who still do fresh produce wholesale in the wee hours of the morning. Getting stock takes ’til about 8.30 when I come back to the office to put out any fires and attack my to-do list for the day. Most days I have a helper in the office, so I get to have a to-do list that consists mainly of making procedural improvements. This is to cope with the enormous amount of growth we’ve been having over the past 12 months – trying to ensure that our service levels don’t take a nose dive. The coffee man parks out front of my office mid-morning, and I stop for coffee and a chat. We have quick meetings over lunch to ensure that everyone is on the same page. By afternoon, I’m normally collating data that will be useful for reporting on whatever aspect of the business I’m trying to “fix” the next day. 4pm I head out the door so that I can get home and change in time for my daily workout. Then home for dinner and bed….that’s the plan anyway.
What kind of marketing and promotion do you do?
We’ve always taken a “try anything” approach, but our consistent performer has been Facebook. For us, advertising online makes sense, it’s measurable, it’s in the space where customers can make a purchase, and it’s cheap. In the meantime, I’m always trying a letterbox drop or an expo to boost numbers but the best results are almost always garnered from us putting out really good product. The week following a week with great product always has a huge boost in sales.
Social media marketing is a large part of your marketing tactics. Was this intentional?
YES! Mainly because I’ve always been comfortable in this space, and you can make a dollar go a long way. In fact, for the first two years of our business we didn’t pay Facebook at all, it was all about ensuring we had engaged customers and Facebook was a tool for word of mouth.
How do you choose which marketing tactics to use?
When I’m choosing a message it’s always about keeping it grounded in objective – do we want to increase long term customers? Increase spend? Remind our customers of our customization process? Get more enquiries? Bank some referrals? Then I look at what’s worked in the past, what’s happening with my competitors and try and craft something that is a little bit entertaining.
When I’m choosing a medium I consider who I’m communicating with, budget and time frame. I really love the immediacy of social media, so that’s usually the first port of call but sometimes it’s important to broaden brand awareness, and that’s where I might look at doing something different.
What’s one thing you can’t live without?
Coffee! And maybe my husband – he’s a superstar.
How do you keep up-to-date with marketing tools and developments?
Google! I spend a ridiculous amount of time clicking links to read more or Googling solutions to a specific problem, the internet is an excellent source of information – especially about the internet. I also subscribe heavily to companies whose social media is outstanding and those in my field that I think I might need to keep an eye on – other people’s ideas are often as awesome as my own.
And finally, what’s the most random request you’ve had from a customer?
My customers are boring and predictable – which is totally awesome.
What is Interview with a Marketer?
Interview with a Marketer is a monthly post series. If you have a great story or want to recommend a marketer, please email Bianca@TapDancingSpiders.com with the person’s name, email address and why they’d be great for Interview with a Marketer.