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Why Local SEO Is like the Farm to Table Movement. What Marketers Should Know About Both.

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It’s the only way to steer the story about your products and services.

The chef stops by your table while you’re dining. He names the specific farm where your vegetables were grown and tells you the name of the orchard where he got the fruit for the sorbet you’ll have for dessert. That’s what’s meant by the farm-to-table movement.

This movement emphasizes the concept of direct relationships. There’s no distributor or middleman. It’s likely you’re eating what was harvested earlier in the day. How’s that for transparency and product knowledge. Sound like another movement you know?

Everybody wants the real scoop

Thanks to the internet and social media, we as consumers are no longer stuck dealing with brand mouthpieces. We can deal directly with the brand itself. Disintermediation, transparency, call it what you like. Consumers want to know all about the businesses they patronize.

Those businesses–at least the smart ones–have realized that consumers aren’t all that interested in learning product features. More than anything, consumers want to know why. Millennials, in particular, are willing to pay more and go out of their way to support local businesses that are transparent and capable of communicating commitment to something more than a product.

So yes, in many respects, the relationship brands hope to cultivate with us today is just like the farm-to-table movement.

Tell me everything

There used to be a time when brands believed that all a customer wanted–and needed–to know was what could be stuffed in a 30-second TV commercial, or a print ad the size of your smartphone. Our voracious curiosity fed by the fat pipe of broadband connectivity pretty much put an end to that line of thinking.

Today, customers go online to brand websites seeking out detailed information about how a product is made, where the materials came from, and, most importantly, the values that guide the production of that product or service. Channel your inner Simon Sinek and chant after me, “People don’t buy what you make, they buy why you make it.”

A 2016 study by Label Insight determined that 56% of those surveyed said it’s this additional product information which allows them to determine if a brand is trustworthy. What’s more, 73% said they’d be willing to pay more for a product that promises total transparency. Nearly 40% said they’d switch to a new brand to get this transparency.

Getting past the product

This quest for transparency or information goes way beyond the products themselves. Consumers want to know all about the companies, too. Brands must search for and then communicate their value systems. Consumers want to get this information directly, so brands must use social media to engage and inform.

And, this information had better be authentic.

Brands have discovered that if they aren’t transparent and forthcoming with the information consumers want, these consumers will take it upon themselves to try to uncover the information themselves and share it with their social networks.

Talk about losing control. There’s no mystery as to why successful brands realize and step up to the responsibility of being completely transparent. It’s the only way to steer the story about their products or services.

Thanks, (millennial) Mom!

No group emphasizes this demand for transparency more than mothers aged 18 to 34. Multiple studies, including the one mentioned above, show that millennial moms are more willing than any other demographic to seek out product information online.

Nearly nine in ten millennial moms surveyed said they would pay more to buy a product that has been produced with full transparency. These women have more than $200 billion at the disposal to spend on products and services. Brands are paying attention.

Happily ever after

The chef has an ulterior motive for stopping to chat with you and letting you know where his broccoli and peaches come from. He wants you to support him with your continued patronage. He knows you’ve come to chew on the story he can tell you about supporting nearby businesses as much as the entrée in front of you.

Today’s most successful brands know this, too. If you think it’s difficult vying for consumer attention, try trading hats. It’s exhausting sifting through all that transparency trying to figure out which brand to trust. The reward is worth it, though.

The reward is a long-term relationship. Almost 60% of those surveyed in the Label Insight study said they would be loyal to a company for life if it offered complete transparency. It means forever, and that’s a mighty long time.

Seems like a fair trade for telling the truth.