Lessons from an Industry Newbie

Let’s call it like it is, 2020 was tough. Remember when we thought this “new normal” would only last a couple of months? It might not have been a pretty learning process, but we all navigated the year as best and as gracefully as possible for our families and our businesses.

While marketing work is not new to me, 2020 was my first full year marketing fresh produce, and it has been an experience. Having to navigate fresh produce marketing during a pandemic certainly sped up the learning process, well, a lot.  Here’s what have I learned over 12 months:

Lessons I’ve Learned as a Fresh Produce Industry Newbie

Learn FAST, shift quickly, approach strategically, change routines, and much more. My hope is that these insights will shed light on what newcomers are experiencing (if you’re working with one), and offer encouragement to other newcomers who are trying to find their way. 

Test and learn.

Trial and error was the theme of my first year in the fresh produce industry. I’ve gone from testing various email strategies, determining where and how to adjust marketing budgets, to even having to scrap plans completely and start again. Therefore, my advice is to remain open to new ideas and honest with ourselves when something isn’t working. I personally have been stretched by this takeaway more times than I’d care to admit and I’m grateful for the inspiration and guidance from my fellow fresh produce marketers. 

Own what you don’t know, but act anyways. 

During Fresh Summit we heard it mentioned many times that 2020 has been an incredibly vulnerable year for our industry. It’s okay to say “I don’t know what’s next” or “I don’t know if this is the ‘right’ approach.” It’s in these times of uncertainty that we must rely on our purpose, the reason we all wake up in the morning and do the work that we do, to pull us through. I’ve seen the fresh produce companies I work with remain calm during this storm, because they are grounded in who they are and what their company stands for. They’ve made the vulnerable choice to act by continuing to invest in their marketing efforts. And, guess what, it’s working! This level of clarity around their purpose is both celebrated and rewarded by shoppers. We see it in our clients’ marketing results! 

Remain humble and filled with gratitude. 

I think it’s safe to say that we all felt like we were spinning out of control at least once this year. For me, it’s been a humbling reminder – or maybe just a slap in the face – that I’m not in control and, yes, even weak at times. It’s put a renewed focus on the importance of community, both inside and outside of work, and deeper gratitude for the people I surround myself with. I cannot wait for the day that I get to meet my clients and fellow fresh produce marketers in person. If hugging is still off limits then we all at least deserve a stiff drink for what 2020 has put us through. (Only kind of kidding.)

Call me crazy, but I’m glad my first full year in fresh produce was 2020. I’m grateful to work with clients who want to try new things and adapt to best meet the needs of their audiences and both my marketing and industry knowledge have grown exponentially because of it. Are you an industry newbie who learned a lot this year? I’d love yo hear from you! Connect with us on LinkedIn and share your 2020 lessons.