Growing Forward with Michigan Food Businesses

Stretching curd at Leelanau Cheese.

Bringing local farmers markets online? Check. 

Capturing professional product shots? Check. 

Crafting social media strategies for Michigan food businesses? Check.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Taste the Local Difference pivoted to serve our partners across the state. As farmers markets, indoor dining, and retail shopping opportunities halted, maintaining an active online presence and diversifying market channels became essential for small businesses to stay relevant. The need for a polished website with professional photos, online commerce options, a social media presence, and creative strategies to connect with consumers became essential. 

We know that small business owners work around the clock to bring their customers quality products but don’t always have the time to sit down and build out a website or create a marketing strategy from scratch. That’s where we come in! Our tech-savvy staff has a wide range of experience in user-friendly website platform selection, content and brand development, marketing strategy, and working with small business owners looking to grow. We meet businesses where they’re at to figure out a solution that fits their needs, taking care to make the process collaborative through consistent communication so businesses are equipped with the training required to manage any new systems.  

Working with Michigan’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC), TLD offered over 3,500 hours of these new services to more than 60 local food and farming businesses in 2021. When surveyed, all of our new partners expressed they had benefited from TLD’s online marketing support; 40% projected an increase of $10k-$25k in annual revenues.  

Here are a few examples of our work:

Leelanau Cheese

In 1995, founders Anne and John Hoyt began producing artisanal European cheeses in northwest Michigan. When the business transferred to Gary Smith and Joshua Hall in 2021,  the operating partners made it their mission to continue the legacy established by the Hoyts.  To grow the online presence of Leelanau Cheese, Hall and Smith collaborated with TLD to develop a website with professional photos and an online store. In a collaborative effort, TLD was able to create an easily navigable website with clear information and quality photos.  Additionally, TLD drafted a few newsletter templates to aid in the launch of consistent email outreach. Ultimately, Leelanau Cheese was able to increase customer accessibility through the services provided through TLD.

Peace Pie

Peace Pie owner, Lorri Smith, came to TLD looking for assistance in establishing a robust social media presence, building an email marketing audience, and diversifying business connections.  TLD helped craft language for their transition to a new business model and incorporate it into clearly worded media kit materials. Our technical assistance experts offered extensive training in social post management, utilizing marketing calendars, and scheduling tools. In addition to online assistance, Peace Pie owners were connected to potential ingredient suppliers through TLD’s extensive local food network. 

City Commons

As part of the Fresh Food Box Project, which aims to connect SNAP-eligible communities to fresh food through online markets and Michigan farmers, City Commons received support to improve their online presence. TLD reorganized their existing website information, connected them to e-commerce options, and transferred content to a more user friendly website platform.  For many of our partners, having a website that is simple to maintain is a high priority and we were able to accomplish that with City Commons.

Whether a business is looking to establish the basics of an online presence or take their existing one to the next level, TLD has the tools to make it happen. Check out our local food and farm marketing services here!

Emily Row is a Content Creator for Taste the Local Difference. Contact her at [email protected]

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