By MARCIA JESS
Ottawa County Community Foundation
Corinna Bench, of Elmore, was a recent recipient of a Burton D. Morgan Scholarship for Entrepreneurs awarded by the Ottawa County Community Foundation. Bench was awarded a $2,995 scholarship to attend the StoryBrand Live Workshop in Nashville, Tenn., in April. The workshop focused on messaging your brand and clarifying your message. Bench returned from the training with new skills and an entrepreneurial network to make her digital business even more successful.
Corinna and her husband, Kurt, started a Community Supported Agriculture business, Shared Legacy Farms, 11 years ago. They have grown to more than 400 CSA customers who receive a box of fresh, organic vegetables grown by the Benches once a week for 18 weeks during the growing season. They deliver veggie boxes to their subscribers each week at five different pick-up sites: Port Clinton, Elmore, Perrysburg, Sylvania and Toledo.
As their business grew, Bench began to study digital marketing as a way to attract and retain more customers. She started with an A-Z Vegetable Storage Guide which she wrote and posted online for free in exchange for email addresses. She then used those email contacts to promote an early bird campaign so customers could sign up in the fall for the following year. Her retention rate for subscribers went from 65 percent to 78 percent in just one season and she credits her current 95 percent retention rate to her digital marketing efforts.
She wanted to share her expertise and success, so she created an audience of CSA farmers on Facebook who were interested in improving their marketing skills. She then developed her website, mydigitalfarmer.com as a farmer support group for marketing. She posts weekly training videos and a wealth of other related information. This support group has grown to over 900 members who read her blog posts and view her training videos. Corinna credits the StoryBrand workshop for giving her additional tools and focus to make her business even more successful.
“The financial assistance available through the Burton D. Morgan Scholarship fund assists entrepreneurs to gain needed skills and training to become successful with their chosen endeavor,” said Dave Slosser, OCCF scholarship chairman. “Scholarship assistance is available throughout the year as applications are received.”
Interested individuals will find more information about the scholarship and the application form at ottawaccf.org.
Marcia Jess is secretary of the Ottawa County Community Foundation, a public charitable organization created in 1999 by the citizens of our community to improve the quality of life for those who live and work in the Ottawa County area. To learn more about the foundation or how you might start a named fund or scholarship, visit ottawaccf.org.