You vs. Direct-Sellers: 5 Reasons You Can Win with Food Gifts!

Molly Neises, Sales

Like it or not, your clients are being inundated with catalogs from Harry & David, Hickory Farms, Mrs. Fields and other direct-sellers.  These companies easily sell more business food gifts each year than the whole promotional products industry combined, so it is important to know how to compete with them effectively. 

What’s the easiest way to convince your customer to avoid large online and mail-order companies for their holiday food gifts?  Remind them of the benefits of buying from you:

#1: With Maple Ridge Farms, their logo is available on every gift!

Your goal is help promote your client’s company… not ours! The Maple Ridge logo will never appear on the outside of our gift packaging.  It does not appear on our shipping cartons, and we never include catalogs or special offers to buy direct when shipping gifts to your customer or their recipients! It is a standard practice for many online retailers and mail-order companies to include their catalog and special offers in their gifts.

#2: Our gifts are always packed fresh-to-order.

Our gifts are packed shortly before your order is shipped, not made up months in advanced and left to sit on a warehouse shelf until an order is placed.  Fresher gifts always say something nice about the sender!

#3: Convenience!

Your partnership with Maple Ridge Farms means that together we can handle all of the logistics for your customer.  We can make sure that samples get into their hands, and address any concerns or needs regarding the shipment of the gifts.  Do they need to include a gift card?  Ship directly to all of their recipients?  No problem.  We’ve got you covered!

#4: Superior Packaging.

Distributors are quick to remind us that the packaging of our shipments is far superior to that of retail stores and mail order companies.  It guarantees that our gifts will arrive in perfect condition. 

#5: Expert Service.

Finally, when clients deal with you they are dealing with a promotion and business gift expert:  someone who can help choose the right gift for recipients, and the proper method of distribution, and help create artwork to make the gifts more memorable.  You are there to make sure everything works out perfectly, and to smooth out any bumps in the road, if there are any.  And we are here to help!  They don’t get that from mail-order companies, retail stores, or internet merchants.  And remember, it doesn’t cost them any more to purchase a $25 gift from you than it does to purchase a $25 gift from anyone else!

I also want to share three case histories showing how savvy distributors were able to take the business away from mail-order and online competitors:

Case History #1 – Using a Random Sample

A San Francisco-based distributor’s client was ready to place a rather large order for gift towers from one of the largest mail-order companies in the country, a household name.  This distributor explained to her client that she could provide a gift program with far greater value and the client showed some interest.  She ordered a sample of the tower her client was ready to order and a random sample of a similarly priced gift from Maple Ridge Farms.  When the two gifts arrived she scheduled a meeting. 

With the help of her client, she opened the box from the mail-order company.  The client was surprised when she saw the appearance of the gift compared to what it looked like in the catalog.  The food components were very disappointing.  The box of mixed nuts contained a tiny “airline-type” bag of nuts.  The caramel corn filled less than half of the box.  The cookies were OK, but the small box of hard candy and small bag of inexpensive dime-store candy were extremely unimpressive.

Now it was time for them to open the carton from Maple Ridge Farms.  The tower, while not quite as large as the first gift, looked even richer and more elegant in real life than it did in the catalog.  Each gift box was filled to the brim with premium chocolates and fresh roasted nuts.  Together the client and distributor taste-tested each of the food components from both gifts and you know the answer… the gift from Maple Ridge Farms won hands down and the distributor secured a nice order! 

Case History #2 – Better than a Random Sample… Use a Spec Sample!

A Minneapolis-area distributor shared this case history with us.  His client was planning to order their holiday food gifts from national mail-order company.  They had selected a $50 gift that included a low-end cutting board with some small, flimsy serving accessories.  He needed a dramatic way to show them the difference between the gift they were interested in and the gift he was proposing.  He ordered the gift they were considering from direct-seller and at the same time ordered a spec sample of the gift he was suggesting from Maple Ridge Farms.  When both gifts arrived he scheduled an appointment.   After his customer tasted the food from both gifts, and saw how great their logo looked on the high-quality bamboo cutting board the distributor had presented from Maple Ridge Farms, they awarded him their order for 500 holiday food gifts!

Case History #3 – Customized with Your Customer's Logo... Not Ours!

A distributor from Illinois was competing with Mrs. Fields for an order of 250 boxes of cookies at $30 each.  The cookies from Mrs. Fields were just as delicious as those from Maple Ridge Farms.  Since the retail prices of the two gifts were practically identical, it would come down to the gift’s presentation and the personal service provided by the distributor.

The gift from Mrs. Fields had the Mrs. Fields logo all over it… on the shipping carton, on the tin, and even on the individual cello wrappers that were on each cookie!  It was hard to tell whether the gift was from the client or from Mrs. Fields!  The gift from Maple Ridge Farms came in a blind shipping carton.  The client’s logo was richly foil-stamped on the gift box, and the cello wrappers protecting the cookies were clear, without Maple Ridge Farms identification.  When recipients opened these gifts, the first thing they would see was the client’s logo on the gift box, not the Maple Ridge Farms logo.

When it came to service, the distributor made the gift program easy and convenient by handling all the details including the shipping list, gift cards, and proofs.  Once again, the distributor was able to prevail over the direct-seller by providing better service and a more appropriate gift.

So, as the fourth quarter officially gets underway, don’t let the large mail-order and internet direct-sellers take your share of the holiday food gifts business.  Show your customer why your partnership with Maple Ridge Farms makes you the superior choice for their gift-giving needs!

Interested in learning more?

  Click here to watch our full webinar:  How to Compete with Direct Sellers