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.