Are you stuck in a rut when it comes to new and engaging small farm marketing ideas?
You’re not alone. Running all the details of a small farm is relentless and exhausting. Coming up with the mental energy and ideas to direct market and sell the food and fiber you produced can feel overwhelming. But effective small farm marketing strategies can translate to increased profit.
In reality, the most effective ways to market your farm products don’t have to be complicated. But they do have to be identified, targeted, set-up and put into motion. Creating a direct marketing plan for your farm business and sticking to it is the first and most important step in successful direct marketing.
Small farm marketing strategies can be quick and immediate, or they can involve a longer-term plan that will pay off with time. We put together a list of our favorite, tried-and-true strategies to kick-start your marketing efforts and boost your farm’s sales.
Smart Small Farm Direct Marketers Start with a Website
In today’s online, digital age it is almost impossible to market your farm without a website.
Yes, some farms do promote without a website (using just a Facebook page, for example), but the reality is that a website allows many more marketing avenues. A website is the “hub” to expand all your other farm marketing “spokes” from.
A website also legitimizes your business. Consumers expect “real” companies to have a website and online presence. Use helpful guides like this website creation post from Upstart Farmers to get started. Don’t be lured into paying a lot for a templated website. You can easily create a free website with services such as WordPress.
Social Media is an Effective Tool for Small Farm Marketing
Social media has been a massive boon for small businesses of all types and is a particularly fantastic way for small farms to market and engage with their audience directly.
But, social media can also be a time suck. Successful social media marketing boils down to a few simple tips:
- Choose the platform your target audience uses.
- Tell a story! Don’t just talk about sales; post about what you do.
- Use beautiful photos.
- Be consistent and post often.
- Respond to questions and comments.
For getting into the nitty-gritty of effective farm social media marketing strategies check out our blog post – Can Social Media Boost Small Farm Availability?
Engage Your Small Farm Market Directly with a Newsletter
Small farm businesses are ideally set up to take advantage of direct marketing using an ongoing newsletter campaign.
Why? Well, because unlike a lot of other types of businesses, many farmer’s business (and what their consumers want) is built around bringing to market and selling perishable, seasonal products. Newsletter campaigns are ideal for promoting the latest and greatest and most small farms typically have an ongoing rotation of just that.
Check out our email marketing tips in our blog post #1 Small Farm Marketing Tool.
Use Special Events as a Small Farm Marketing Boost
Everybody loves a farm event. Hosting special events, and especially promoting them, is a great way to increase engagement and build your audience for future sales.
Focus an event around the season — a cider pressing party in the fall. Or feed the baby goats in the spring. You can offer sales, charge for event admittance, or host a free event to build a rapport with your community.
Make sure to capture attendees’ information for future marketing engagements, whether that’s a simple list to sign up for your email newsletter or a discount offer on a purchase in exchange for receiving text messages.
Special events will often attract free press coverage, which can significantly extend your marketing reach. Let your local press outlets know what you’re doing.
Farm Market Pop-ups — a New Spin on Farmer’s Markets
Hosting a “pop-up” has become increasingly popular for chefs. Now small farms are starting to take advantage of the idea as well.
If you already frequent a farmer’s market, you have all the tent, table and set-up supplies needed. Look for an area with high traffic, the sort of customer you want to target and no other nearby small farm outlets. Find an appropriate spot and, with owner permission, set up a “pop-up” market stand.
Pop-up stands work best with excellent signage, a well-thought timing and location strategy and pre-promotion. Some small farms find their pop-up locations turn into long-term sites, essentially building into a farmer’s market of — just you!
And during these COVID times, consider taking pre-orders online for the pop up market. Creating a free online store can help you lock in sales and customer for your first, and future, pop up markets.
Use Online Platforms to Market your Small Farm Products to a Larger Audience
Online marketing platforms, like Food4All, are often the first place a consumer interested in finding local farm food goes when they are searching for farms and food producers.
By consolidating many farm producers across regions and using geolocation techniques, these online platforms build up a large audience and online presence because they offer many different farm and food producer options. But they help consumers target their focus, finding the right producer closest to them.
Make sure your farm is listed or it might be your competitor that benefits instead of you!
Forward-Thinking Small Farm Direct Marketers Use Text
Using text (SMS) blasts isn’t for every farmer (or every consumer), but people that do sign up for text message alerts are typically your most engaged customers.
Don’t overuse text messages, make them exclusive. They are best used for special discounts or limited supplies on highly-sought after products. Just picked the first of the year’s strawberries? Let your best customers know through your exclusive text message service.
Text messages can also be a great way to remind a chef list to place an order by a deadline. Or a farmer’s market customer or that you will soon be set-up and selling food in their neighborhood.
Keep your messages short, sweet and to the point. For more tips on using text messaging to promote farmers’ markets, check out this blog post – Marketing Farmers Markets with Text.
Be a Small Farm Thought Leader in Your Community
Holding leadership roles in your local community will build your authority and help you engage with a broader audience over time.
Many farmers enjoy the anonymity of farming. Crops don’t talk back or have opinions! But, in reality, when you’re building a vibrant and robust customer base for your direct market farm, you’re selling yourself and your values as much as your products. This is a big difference between selling all your product through a wholesale market versus creating your own customer base.
Small farms, local food production and regional economies are hot topics for any community. Bringing your voice and vision to those subjects carries a lot of weight and authority and will build your farm’s brand over time.
Consider serving in volunteer leadership roles in local government or with non-profit organizations. If you have a small regional newspaper, offer to write an ongoing column about local food and farming issues.
The team at Food4All hopes you find these ideas are helpful. Remember, marketing your farm doesn’t have to be hard. It just takes a plan that works for you — and then doing it!
Food4All is a free, online marketplace built specifically for local food farmers, farmer markets and anyone selling farm and ranch goods, whether it’s fresh food, value-added items, or CSA’s. We offer free tools, technologies and a simple-to-use platform that will bring customers (new and old) to your online farm store and easily collate orders and get you paid.
For more information, check out our website at www.food4all.com.