23 Oct

Garden Fresh combines outreach savvy with a great product

It’s not difficult to get people (read: me) pumped up about something when free food is involved. So when my buddy Dave Benjamin asked me if I’d be interested in sampling Garden Fresh Gourmet’s line of salsas and hummus, which he consults for, I happily obliged.

A native Michigander, I was familiar with the Ferndale-based company, but to my knowledge, had never sampled their products. Typically, when I purchased salsa, my go-tos were Ortega or Old El Paso — because that’s what Mom always used, right?

Little did I know that I’d soon discover what I’d been missing all these years.

When that giant box of goodies arrived at my office, I knew it was going to be a good day. My co-workers were practically salivating when I told them it contained a line of fresh salsas, chips and hummus from my home state, and I couldn’t open the box fast enough.

I first found a personalized note from Melissa Aronson Bihl of Garden Fresh, who demonstrated within the first few sentences that she took the time to learn a little bit about me (the fact that I’m a University of Michigan fan) and let me know that she was, too.

She went on to explain that while Garden Fresh is America’s No. 1 fresh salsa company, their products are only available at Wegman’s and Stop & Shops supermarkets in the New York area, which do not currently have a big presence on the actual island of Manhattan. “Our goal is to become more active and visible in the city and state as a whole,” she said.

She closed the letter with a little bit of background on the company (Did you know it started in the back of a diner with founders Jack and Annette Aronson?) and asked me to let her know what I thought about the samples.

That’s when the feeding frenzy began. It soon became obvious to both me and the crowd of my co-workers who had gathered ‘round that these were no ordinary treats. Every flavor in each tub I tried, using Garden Fresh’s own Original Tortilla Chips as the middleman, was even more robust than the previous one. In between bites, my colleagues were eager to hear the story behind this smorgasbord of wow-inducing products.

Our office faves: the Spicy Cilantro, Garlic and Chive, and Roasted Red Pepper hummus, as well as the Mango Peach Salsa (so unexpected and oh-so-good!) We also feasted on Artichoke Garlic, Wild Mild and Jack’s Special salsas, and more iterations of their hummus, including Artichoke & Spinach, Vegetable, Village Style, Olive, Original and Tabouli. (Did I mention they make guacamole as well?) About an hour later, it was a veritable salsa and hummus graveyard.

So what can we learn from this story? A few things Garden Fresh did right:

They knew who their target market was.

As a Mitten lover-turned-New Yorker, I was the ideal candidate to sample their food and help spread the good word. I also happen to have a blog, in which I share the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to marketing and PR. I’m active on social media (as are my co-workers), and we used this opportunity to spread the Garden Fresh love via our networks like Twitter and Instagram.

They made it personal.

How many bad pitches do we have to hear about before people start taking the time to get to know the human beings they’re reaching out to? By Melissa mentioning that we had exchanged a few tweets on Twitter and shared a mutual love for our hometown football team, she established that I was more than Item No. 38 on her to-do list for that day.

They backed up their outreach with an outstanding product.

You can be the smoothest salesman on the planet, but if you’re selling a lemon, you may as well be talking to yourself. I was truly blown away by not only the variety in the Garden Fresh line-up, but the fact that they turned, what I initially thought were pretty unremarkable food items, into an actual experience for me as a consumer. I love being pleasantly surprised.

So if you’re a foodie like me and want to be kept in-the-know about delicious Garden Fresh-based recipes and much more from these guys, check them out on Facebook and Twitter.

  • megwalda

    also noteworthy: they knew about your well documented love affair with convenient Mexican foods (ala qdoba) :)

    PS did I see something online from you in the past few days about a cream cheese salsa dip? I was late to the party on that product, but my mom and brother told me about it this past summer and its my new favorite thing. D&W has one I adore (although im not sure why I dont just make it myself..)

    • https://ericajmoss.com Erica Moss

      I didn’t even think about my affection for Mexican food, but you’re totes right!

      And yes, they make a cream cheese and salsa dip, which sounds like some kind of heaven. Thanks for the comments. :)

  • megwalda

    also Garden Fresh Gourmet tortilla chips are referred to as “the good ones” in my household, and all other grocery store tortilla chips are viewed as sad substitutes to only be purchased when “the good ones” are out of stock at the store. Love them!

  • http://hungryhealthymj.com Melissa

    Jack’s! That has to be my fav in the Garden Fresh line. I wonder if they want to send a little D-town love to a Michigander in DC??? ;)

    • https://ericajmoss.com Erica Moss

      We should probably talk to them about online ordering. :)

  • http://www.bradmarley.com Brad Marley

    My brother-in-law’s dad works for Garden Fresh on the production side (I think) so at large family functions, we are sometimes treated to free salsa. (And if there are two words that are more perfectly matched for each other, I’d like to know what they are.) And since it’s plentiful in Michigan, I buy it quite often.

    However, I was unaware of their marketing chops. I’m impressed. But let’s face it: I don’t need another reason to remain a fan.

    For the record, Jack’s medium is my favorite.

    • https://ericajmoss.com Erica Moss

      Brad, I hold you personally responsible for not exposing me to their awesomeness before I moved 600 miles away. And your comment about free salsa being two words perfectly matched made laugh out loud.

      • http://www.bradmarley.com Brad Marley

        And I take full responsibility. Next time I’m eating some, I’ll let you know.

  • AshleyBo

    Steve and I are HUGE Garden Fresh fans…always used to buy when we lived “off the island”

    • https://ericajmoss.com Erica Moss

      Love that! Way to rep my home state. :)

  • Tracy Lynn

    I love Garden Fresh! I’d always buy the salsa while livin in DC, it was lovely to have a taste of home while away from Michigan.

    • https://ericajmoss.com Erica Moss

      So much Michigan love! After all this talk, I’m craving some salsa and hummus like whoa.

  • http://nikkilittle.com/ Nikki Little

    I LOVE Garden Fresh! I’ve been to a few events at their Ferndale facilities, and they do an awesome job connecting with the community and educating us on how their products are different. Melissa and her team do a great job connecting with GFS fans online, too (I’m actually highlighting GFS in an upcoming presentation in a section on companies doing social media right). I will gladly keep giving my money to this company! Amazing products, and they show a genuine care and appreciation for their customers.

    • https://ericajmoss.com/ Erica Moss

      Well said — and now I’m making it my personal mission to get them in every supermarket on the island of Manhattan. :)

  • http://mommyisintimeout.com Elena

    Now, you’ve made me hungry. I need to try the spicy cilantro…that’s one I’ve yet to sample yet. Love GF – such an awesome grand and product. So glad you are spreading the word in NYC!

    • https://ericajmoss.com/ Erica Moss

      I know they’re all about the salsas, but I think the hummus was my fave. DELISH.