Getting Started with Market Maker

Posted on 06/02/2009 at 12:00 AM by Christa Hartsook

Blog entry written by Connie Hardy, Iowa State University Extension, Value Added Agriculture Program coordinator

Are you interested in building a relationship with retail or food service distributors?  Are you in the process of building your business?  Just follow the simple steps below.

Step 1:  Developing a Marketing Plan

Before meeting with a distributor, you must first develop a marketing plan.  Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What products am I looking to sell?
  • What is my current target market?
  • What are the needs of my target market?
  • What are my business goals I would like to achieve?
  • What new products or markets can I expand into?

Step 2:  Establishing a Relationship with a Distributor

Set up a formal one-on-one meeting with distributor to understand exactly what their needs and expectations are.  Develop a check list of all the important attributes that the distributor values.  Clearly understand these attributes and relay to the distributor how you will meet them.  If there is an area of concern, address the concern to effectively communicate your expectations.
Step 3:  Maintaining a Relationship with Distributor

Contact distributor after each order is made in the first month to ensure guidelines have been followed and their needs have been met.  Express any concerns that you may have. 

Step 4:  Objectives to Build Your Business

The National Food Industry MarketMaker tool can greatly benefit you and your operation, and it is free for you to use.

MarketMaker is an interactive mapping system designed to help you identify new market opportunities.  The MarketMaker Web site contains searchable demographic and business data critical in doing targeted market analysis.  This powerful tool combines several business data sets and U.S. census information to provide a unique marketing resource – but to maximize its benefit we need producers like you to register.

Market Maker will help:

  • Businesses find you.
  • You build a successful marketing strategy.
  • You find target markets for your products.
  • You build business networks and supply chains.
  • Provide market information outside the state. 

The MarketMaker website can be found at:  In about five minutes through MarketMaker, you can register your business by clicking on:

  1. “Register Your Business" so that businesses can find you.
  • Select your business (select from Producers/Farmers, Processor, Wholesaler, Food Retailer, Eating & Drinking Places, Farmers Market)
  • Fill in information at the top of the page (make sure to complete the * items)
  • Fill out each tab at the bottom of the page (Meat and Meat Products, Fruit and Nuts, Vegetables, Grains, Herbs, Dairy, Other Specialty Products etc.)
  • Click “Submit”

Or if you want to try your own search, start off by clicking on:

  1. "Begin Your Search" to find a target market for your product.
  • Go to MarketMaker homepage and click on “View Case Studies” under “How can I use MarketMaker?”
  • Click on one of the three cases that best applies to your search.
  • There will be step-by-step instructions to walk you through selecting your market and business.
  • The information will be plotted out for you allowing you to “zoom in” or “zoom out” to view various regions of your selected area.

Categories: Local/Regional Foods