Field Work: How Client Road Trips Keep Us Informed and Inspired

At FARM, we believe that it’s not enough to learn about our clients’ industries through secondhand knowledge. We’ve found that the best way to gain the deepest understanding of our clients is to live and breathe their industries, day in and day out. Our specialized, industry-specific teams allow each team to focus our time and attention on a specific business environment, just as our clients do. This enables us to become true experts in each field, staying on top of industry news and trends and regularly attending key industry events and conferences—all so that we can develop the most relevant and compelling communications for our clients.

In June, several of us attended the annual FMI (Food Marketing Institute) Connect conference in Chicago in support of our client, TOPS Friendly Markets. Attended by national, independent, and regional retailers as well as manufacturers, distributors, and service providers, FMI Connect brings all aspects of food retail together for one week to highlight the newest advancements in technology and innovation, and provide insights on consumer and industry trends from leaders in the industry.

FMI sounds like many other industry conferences, and in some ways it is. But here at FARM, we take the same strategic approach to planning for an event like this as we do for anything else we work on. With the opportunity to gain a richer knowledge of our client’s business, competition, and their consumers’ mindset, we wanted to be sure that we got the most of this year’s event, catching the speakers and sessions most relevant to TOPS’s business. Before we left for FMI, our account team worked with TOPS to understand what they were hoping to get out of this year’s conference, so that we could align our participation with their objectives. With a limited number of people attending from TOPS—and so many sessions to attend, vendors to see, and new products and innovations to learn about—our goal was to serve as an extension of the TOPS team, attending sessions they couldn’t get to for insight into new areas of their business that they hope to explore in the future.

FMI’s 2016 conference was jam-packed with educational sessions focused on the latest and most significant topics affecting the grocery retail industry, such as how to attract the ever-growing Millennial shopper segment, the rise of private labels, and techniques to give each individual shopper the unique shopping experience they want. Additionally, the trade show floor gave us the opportunity to walk alongside TOPS and speak to the vendors they were interested in learning more about. We also had the pleasure of tasting the newest treats from vendors such as Hershey, PepsiCo, and Anheuser-Busch, to name a few. Keynote speakers Steve Case, co-founder of AOL, as well as celebrity chefs Mario Batali and Robert Irvine, provided unique perspectives on the future of not just the grocery industry, but overall consumer trends and behaviors to anticipate.

Although it was our fifth year attending the event, we once again walked away from FMI Connect with a greater knowledge of the retail industry and a renewed energy and fresh approach to applying our work for TOPS. Perhaps more than anything, we learned that our job doesn’t just start and end with marketing. It’s really about helping our clients find the best way to improve business.

Kimberly McCarthy
Senior Account Executive

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