Posted 2013 at by & in category Food Marketing.

Once again Grand Rapids is home to the Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable and Farm Market Expo and the Michigan Greenhouse Growers Expo. Over 4000 people from 42 states and seven Canadian provinces registered for the 2012 expo. GLEXPO is always a favorite show to attend to pick up ideas to help food and agricultural product entrepreneurs market their products. Featuring three days of workshops and breakout sessions such as ‘The Next Big Thing in Farm Marketing’ and ‘Facebook and Beyond – the Next Generation of Social Media for Farm Marketers’, GLEXPO provides the often cash-strapped farm marketer and seasonal vendor an opportunity to maximize their time and finances to grow their business.

Outside the marketing sessions, GLEXPO also features many vendors showcasing new and exciting products available for retailing opportunities at farm markets. One peculiar item showing this year is ‘Barf in a Jar’ from Scherger’s Kettle out of Shipshewana, Indian. Apparently according to the gentlemen sampling many of their jams and jellies, ‘Barf in a Jar’ started out as peach salsa until they experimented with adding coconut to the ingredient list, eliciting the reaction of one of the ‘jam team’ to say what she thought it looked like.

A large selection of exhibitors also offers private labeling services for those entrepreneurs who need more assistance in growing their production capability.

One of the most interesting exhibitors is Characters Unlimited out of Las Vegas that manufacture life-size characters that employ a wireless microphone for candid conversations with customers. The scarecrow is particularly a little too lifelike, but sure to create a draw.

From the dried kale chips to the homemade wooden baskets, this show has something for everyone. GLEXPO 2014 is scheduled for December 9-11 and more information is available at

Posted 2013 at by & in category Social Media.

I’ll admit it – I went into the Pinterest thing kicking and screaming upon its launch. ‘Not another social vehicle I have to participate in’, was my original thought for the Sherri Sharp side of me. But for the Sharp Marketing, Grand Rapids ad agency, side of me, I knew I had to embrace it in order to have a non-biased outlook for consulting our clients on their social media strategies. While it’s more of a guilty pleasure for me (I even made yard ghosts this Halloween from a post), it’s become a valuable social tool for a number of our clients. So, I’m excited to see this data from Marketing Charts on the Pinterest sharing trend.

While Facebook remains easily the leading channel for sharing content online, says ShareThis in a new report, but sharing via Pinterest is growing quickly this year and is almost on par with email as the third-largest channel. During September, Facebook accounted for a leading 57.3% of shares from websites that have the ShareThis tool embedded, significantly expanding its leading share from 42.4% a couple of months earlier in July. Twitter was the second-largest channel, with 19.3% of shares in September, followed by email (5.1%) and Pinterest (4.9%). LinkedIn closed out the top 5 sharing channels, with 2.1% of shares in September.

The ShareThis data is a useful indicator of sharing trends: the study says its analysis is based on sharing behavior across more than 120 social channels, reaching 95% of the US online population on desktop and mobile devices. Indeed, comScore recently reported that ShareThis boasted 85.6% reach among online Americans in September (desktop-only).

Meanwhile, the study shows that while the amount of sharing taking place via Facebook (+31.9%) and Twitter (+26.5%) has grown rapidly so far this year (from January through September), Pinterest and LinkedIn have been the fastest-growing channels. For the year-to-date, the amount of content shared via Pinterest has grown by 59%, while content sharing via LinkedIn is up by 44.1%. By contrast, the amount of sharing occurring via email has actually decreased slightly – by 3.3% – over the course of this year.

Those trends largely apply to Q3, too. The amount of content sharing occurring via Pinterest (19.2%) and LinkedIn (15.1%) rose most rapidly during the quarter, slightly ahead of Facebook (+14.7%). Interestingly, though, content sharing via Twitter decreased by 7.6% during the quarter. The strong growth of Pinterest and LinkedIn is reflected in their respective shares of the sharing market (excuse the pun). Pinterest’s 4.9% of shares in September was a significant boost from 3.4% in July, while LinkedIn’s 2.1% share in September was 40% higher than its 1.5% share in July.

Recent data from Shareaholic indicates that Pinterest’s stature is growing as a social referrer of website traffic. While that report showed Facebook easily the top social traffic referrer, it also demonstrated that Pinterest now drives more traffic to websites than Twitter, StumbleUpon, Reddit, and others – combined.

Pinterest isn’t for everybody, but before you write it off in your social media strategy, talk to us about some success stories. In the meantime, enjoy one of my favorite pins on my Marketing and Advertising board.


Posted 2013 at by & in category Food Marketing.

The MSU Product Center is pleased to announce the sixth annual Making It In Michigan Conference and Premier Specialty Food Show to be held Tuesday, November 12th from 7:30AM – 4:00PM at the Lansing Center.
“As this year also marks the 10th anniversary of the MSU Product Center, the theme of this year’s conference is ‘Celebrate Your Business’ – accelerating your achievement at every stage of your company,” states Matthew Birbeck, MSU Product Center’s High Impact Venture Action Team Project Manager. “It will be exciting for attendees to learn more about growing their own brands and making their businesses more efficient and profitable,” says Birbeck.

Tim McIntyre, Vice President of Communications for Domino’s Pizza, will deliver the conference keynote address. Mr. McIntyre will present the story of how Domino’s Pizza broke all of the rules of traditional marketing to reinvent its brand including airing consumer criticisms, showing bad product and exposing the secrets behind food commercial shoots.

The one-day event features morning educational sessions that will bring together leading Michigan experts to help guide attendees in refining and growing their businesses in the following areas:

• It’s about the product in the package: moving past the starter recipe into explosion, food safety and sourcing ingredients and selecting the appropriate co-packer at the right time

• Growing your specialty food business even further: alleviating the growing pains associated with accelerated business growth and strategizing your entry into retail sales

• Marketing Your Food Product: designing your product label and retail sales tools and minimizing confusion about your product packaging by correctly assessing your product needs

• Keeping the regulatory requirements in check: obtaining legal protection for your business and your product – essential vs. suggested elements including patents, trade secrets and trademarks and getting food product licensing by the State of Michigan – existing foodservice operation expansion or new food business launch

The $79 per person conference registration fee includes breakfast, lunch, and educational sessions, digital copies of all presentations and reference materials and admission to the Marketplace trade show.
The Marketplace trade show in the afternoon will feature over 150 new and existing businesses that will be showcasing their Michigan-made food and agricultural products to the general public and Michigan-based food buyers. The trade show is free to the general public.

Conference participants will also have time to network with the winners of this year’s MSU Product Center awards and learn from their success stories. Awards will be presented for the Best Barrier Buster, Start-up to Watch and Entrepreneur of the Year. MSU Product Center innovation counselors and staff members, Product Center clients, business consultants, regulatory officials and food and farming groups will also be available to provide in-depth information and counseling.

More information and conference registration is available at