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Increasing Your Brand Awareness Is Good Farm Marketing

Make A Stencil: Increasing Your Brand Awareness Is Good Farm Marketing

Article by John Suscovich from Farm Marketing Solutions

Your farm is your brand, and your brand is your farm. It is always good practice to increase your brand awareness. This is particularly true when you are starting a farm.

On my farm and off I am always putting my farm name anywhere I can. I leave business cards at cafes and book stores, I leave pamphlets at doctor’s offices, and I have shirts with my farm name on them that I wear anywhere I go. After all, I want my business to be a success, and in order for it to become a success more people have to know about it.

With visitors coming every week to my farm I wanted a way for my farm name to get into the pictures that they take, and for it to get into the pictures that I take and put online. A simple solution for me was to create a cardboard stencil so I can “tag” all of my stuff and increase brand awareness.

The process was very simple, and I will have the stencil as long as I can keep it in one piece. Here’s what I did:

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I chose a simple font and printed out the letters to my farm name in a very large font size. Obviously the whole name will not fit on one sheet so you will have to print out several sheets.

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Next I lined up all the letters and taped them onto a piece of cardboard. I actually doubled up on the cardboard and cut out two stencils at once. Always good to have a back-up.

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Choose a simple font that will be easy to read. It will also make it easier to cut out. I used Arial for this.

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Put it everywhere. I have it on my chicken tractors, my farm trailer, and I’ll even put it on my Vermont Cart. Just make sure the stencil doesn’t move when you are painting or it will look funny. Here I held it with bricks. I have also used a t-50 stapler to hold it while I spray.

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You can see my stencil on the end of my chicken tractor that I brought to an Earth Day event.

Return on Investment

My farm name is increasingly in my pictures that get shared all over the internet. Since it is clear that I take my business seriously and I want to be a success, others want to see me succeed as well. That leads to an increase of CSA members (4 since the event a couple days ago), and a bolstering of the community around my farm.


What can you be doing to increase brand awareness for you farm?

Link Photo courtesy of Farm Marketing Solutions

Article courtesy of Farm Marketing Solutions

For more information on how to brand your farm business check out a video by Ernest Barbaric on creating your brand online.

 

What Can Farmers & Small Towns Gain Through Using Social Media?

More than 100 million people are said to be using Twitter. With all the buzz around the service – challenges about how many followers people have, tweeted photos appearing on the big screen in major stadiums, and every business having a twitter icon on their homepage – one would have to wonder what would small town people to use the service. That was exactly what I was able to learn at the recent 140 Characters Small Town Conference in Hutchinson, KS.

If you haven’t heard of the 140 Conferences, you may be interested to hear founder Jeff Pulver’s thoughts on what the meeting can do depends entirely on the people who come. As he and event co-host Becky McCray opened the Small Town conference last week, Pulver said:

In America, 300 million people live here [in small towns] and only 65 million people live in the big town and everyone else lives in a small town and the technology we have that is touching our lives, that is effecting the way we work and live, effects everybody. It doesn’t discriminate. The same way that someone in education in Hutchinson is being effected by this is very similar to what’s happening in New York City. In fact, I think in some places, people in small towns are leading the way in being able to take a technology and run with it, to show and lead and use it. And I’ve found it fascinating to discover that.

We put a lens on small towns and put a lens on people who are affecting change and doing things. Either someone is touched by these technologies or they touching technology. That’s what the conference is really about. You will see lots of interesting voices coming forward and sharing their stories, sharing themselves.

McCray is one of the millions of Americans living in small towns or rural areas. Running a small business and living on a farm in northwestern Oklahoma where they raise cattle, she urged Pulver to bring 140 to small towns last year. This year as she took the microphone, she asked the crowd if they wanted to hear her “rant.” She drew the following picture in the audience’s mind:

Last week I opened a copy of the Chicago Tribune and saw a huge inside page dedicated to a story about the drought effecting Oklahoma and Texas and Kansas and New Mexico. And splashed across the middle of that story was a huge photo of a farmer from Oolagah, Oklahoma, in his overalls and his ball cap standing in the cracked and parched earth that is the remains of his farm pond. In short, they made him look like a hick. And he was surrounded by this story on the people who are fighting the drought, and their substandard housing, and how they are broke dirt farmers and it kind of made the rest of us look like a hick too.

See, there’s not room in the photo to tell the story of that farmer. To explain that he probably has between one and two million dollars in assets under management. There wasn’t room to explain that in his pocket is a Blackberry and that he is constantly connected with commodity prices, that he is probably a skilled commodities trader to protect his business. There wasn’t room in the photo to talk about his understanding of commercial lending, of cash flow management, of financial statements of all the disciplines of management that he has had to master to survive as a farmer.

There wasn’t room in that surrounding story to tell any broader of apicture of small town than just the broke dirt farmer. But there is room online and there is room here. We have room. We have room to tell a real story….

We can change some perceptions about who we are. Starting with our own. Because probably a lot of you were told the same thing I was told – ‘If you have any brains and any ambition, you will move out of the small town to the big city so that you can pursue opportunity.’ Which is wrong because today we can pursue opportunity from anywhere.

As she talked through this, the images of my small towns came into mind. Having lived in a Mississippi Delta town of 600 people for several years, I can point to students who were being told that the real promise was in big cities both overtly and in more subtle ways. But I can also point to individuals who “bucked the system” and decided to invest in their small towns, who got involved in the schools, helped bring the arts to their communities and many times, those people were farmers. I was busily walking down Memory Lane when Becky turned to a turn of phrase farmers know well.

Becky talked about the “hybrid vigor of ideas” that is achieved by getting a variety of people in the room, I knew that the day, that this conference had the potential to be incredible. I know I learned a lot while I was there and it was great to be in a room filled with people so passionate about America’s small towns.

In the coming days, we will share some more of the other presentations that were shared during the day as perceptions shattered. And we’ll show more perspectives on just how much small town residents have to gain through social media.

Originally published September 29, 2011 by Janice Person

Article courtesy of Beyond the Rows

Link Photo courtesy of Thomas Hawk

 

 

Why You Need to Develop a Farm Marketing Plan

Marketing is an essential part of any successful farm business. Whether you’re selling a commodity or a retail product your marketing strategy starts with putting together a marketing plan.

A marketing plan helps you keep out emotions when you’re making decisions in your farm business. You need a plan so that you don’t get caught up in hype, and a farm marketing plan will go along way to ensuring you stay the steady course.

Watch Reg Shandro explain why it’s important to have a farm marketing plan on your farm business operation.

This workshop was funded in part by the Agriculture & Food Council of Alberta

 

Take the first step in developing a farm marketing plan

 

6 Ways Farmers can Earn Customer Loyalty

When you’re hustling to finish combining before a rainstorm or checking a horse for thrush, customer loyalty probably isn’t on your mind. The day to day life of a farmer has a tendency to drown out other matters, and customer loyalty is kind of like gas in a truck – it only matters when you don’t have enough. However, when you’re going over your bills and checking your income, you can see the impact customer loyalty – or a lack thereof – can have on your farm.

But what is customer loyalty? To put it bluntly, customer loyalty is created when you give people a reason to buy from your farm rather than going somewhere else. Your customers have plenty of alternatives. They could pull up to Walmart and buy discount “beef” at a price you’ll never be able to match. Maybe they head into Safeway for their fruit and veggies just because it’s convenient. When customers are loyal to you, they’ll drive right past the strip malls and head to the farmers’ market on a busy Saturday to do their shopping.

Loyalty: A Farm’s Lifeblood

You’ll find only a handful of reasons that customers will stay loyal to a farm. First, they’ll stay loyal if they like you. Friends support friends. Second, they’ll stay loyal if they feel you provide a superior product. Sure, a family run farm won’t be able to price match a big box store, but you can provide a product they trust, one they can literally see growing from the earth. Finally, they’ll stay loyal if your farm can provide a better purchasing experience. People put off grocery shopping because they hate it. Fluorescent lights, mumbling cashiers, and shopping carts with broken wheels add up to a headache. Buying products from a farm or a farmers’ market is a completely different experience.

Customer loyalty is what keeps a struggling farm afloat through hard times. It can come from individual consumers or bulk purchasers. Let’s take a look at how to earn your customer’s loyalty.

1. Provide Great Customer Service

This’ll sound like common sense, but people want to be treated like people. Imagine that you’ve purchased a brand new dining room table. You spend three hours building it using a single Allen key, only to find the table is missing several components. In fact, it won’t even stand up properly! You call the store to return the defective table, and after spending another hour on the phone, they tell you they can’t replace it due to a sentence of fine print.

Are you going to buy your next table from them? Are you going to recommend your friends take a look? Probably not. If you want customers to be loyal to your farm, you have to go above and beyond to take care of them. Provide them with a way to get in touch with you and make sure you respond to their problems. While the customer isn’t always right, sometimes it’s better to smooth things over by making them feel like they are.

2. Resolve Problems Quickly

When you procrastinate on a farm, bad things happen. Leaks turn into floods, disease spreads through herds, pests destroy crops. Just as you have to respond quickly to problems on your farm, you have to respond quickly to customer problems. The best way to do this is to come up with a farming cheat sheet for you and your employees to follow.

Whenever you sell something, you’re bound to hear complaints. Your cheat sheet will tell you how to respond. Simply make a list of the complaints you hear the most frequently, then add a column that instructs you how to deal with each complaint. For example, if you have a customer complain about some corn they purchased, your cheat sheet would tell you to replace their corn and offer them a half dozen extra cobs on the house. As an added bonus, if you notice that one complaint is appearing frequently, you’ll know what you need to improve on your farm.

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– photo courtesy of Bright Vibes

3. Under Promise, Over Deliver

Put yourself in the customer’s shoes. Imagine you’ve ordered a quarter of beef, cut into a variety of steaks, sausages, and burgers. From here, the scenario can play out in two different ways. The first is that you can go to the farm and pick up your beef, which isn’t ready on time and is labeled poorly. The second is that you go to the farm and pick up your beef which is ready, labeled, and comes with two bottles of homemade BBQ sauce the farmer recommends that you try on your steaks.

 

In both cases, you’re getting the quarter of beef you’ve paid for, but the experience is completely different. One farmer promised something he couldn’t deliver, and the other not only met their promise, but exceeded it as well. Your word is your reputation; break a promise and you’ll lose your customer’s confidence – and their loyalty with it. Keep your promises and watch customer loyalty grow.

 

4. Be a Friendly Farmer

More than one farmer has said they’re better with animals than they are with people – that’s why they do what they do. But customer loyalty is established when your customers make a connection with you as a person. A friendly smile and a firm handshake will go a long way towards securing steady business from a customer. Treat your customers as you would treat your friends.

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– photo courtesy of Sara Jeanne Edwards

 

5. Stay In Touch with Email Newsletters

If someone meets you at a farmers’ market, buys some fruit, but has no way to stay in touch with you, you’ve just lost the chance to secure a loyal customer. In the age of the Internet, you need to work to stay in touch. You don’t need to call your customers every Thursday and chat about their lives, but the out of sight, out of mind rule does apply. Try offering customers the chance to sign up for an email newsletter. By sending your customers monthly emails letting them know how things are going at the farm and announcing any special deals, you’ll keep your farm present in their minds.

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– photo courtesy of Howard Lake

 

6. Write Thank You Notes

A sincere, handwritten thank-you note is almost unheard of in this day and age – which is why it makes such an impact. Once or twice a year, give some of your most loyal customers a thank-you note along with some extra goodies. As with any relationship, when people feel appreciated, they’re more likely to stick around. As an added bonus, certain gifts may be tax deductible depending on your local laws and regulations.

5 steps to telling powerful farm stories
– photo courtesy of Linda Aslund

Customer Loyalty: Your Farm’s Lifeblood

Remember, it’s not enough to attract customers: you need to keep them around, too. Customer loyalty is what’s going to keep your farm running when the rain won’t come, the equipment breaks down, and the margins get slim.

Link photo by Thomas Lapperre

 

4 Steps to Successfully Market Your Farm

Article by Farms.com

AgStar Edge, Have you ever wanted to begin marketing your farm? Whether it’s selling your products or simply making a name for yourself in the agricultural community, creating and implementing a strategic marketing plan can help you become more successful with your efforts. In this Women in Agriculture blog, AgStar’s own Sara Larson gives you four steps to take when beginning to create your farms own marketing plan.

  1. Identify your market

Ask yourself, who is most likely going to buy my farm products?

  1. How am I going to set my farm apart from others?
  2. Create marketing material – logo etc.
  3. Create marketing promotions – Facebook pages, etc.

Link photo by Johnhenryf

 

 

4 Step Plan to Marketing in Agriculture

At the core of any successful business is a solid marketing plan. This holds true for any agriculture business, from a traditional cash grain operation to a small-scale produce operation, and everything in between. While the specific strategies of farms may be significantly different – some direct marketing to consumers and others selling a commodity product – all producers need to understand how sound marketing decisions are made. Below is a basic four-step plan that is applicable to any farm business:

  1. Know Yourself

As the operator of an agricultural operation, your mindset, attitude and knowledge directly effect the decisions made on your farm.Your tolerance toward risk is at the heart of how you approach marketing along with your goals, philosophy and marketing know-how. You need to recognize these factors to determine your readiness to handle marketing on your operation and the next steps.

  1. Know the Markets

After realizing your personal thoughts and values on marketing, it is important for you to make sure that you understand the market situation and outlook. What are the historical prices for products? Are there cycles, trends or seasonality? What drives the price movements of your product? What tools exist to help you market your product? Answering these questions will help you build a foundation to work from.

  1. Know Your Business

Next, take a hard look at your business including: current and projected production levels, cost of production and the point where you breakeven. Also, assess the risk capacity of your business by looking at available working capital, your debt-to-asset ratio and cash on hand. Creating a business plan will help you to better understand your operation’s goals and objectives and relate back to all of these points. Most of all, recognize that you are not alone. Your relationships with others such as lenders and consultants, as well as your ability to use other information sources, can help in your quest to knowing your operation.

  1. Know and Work the Plan

Marketing goals for any farm operation should be realistic. You should establish your desired profit margin and trigger points for your business. Execute your plan with discipline and regularly monitor its progress. You should continually reassess your strategy as the markets and your business change to review the total risks to the operation.

Although it is easy to get wrapped up in your daily duties on the farm, it is critically important to make marketing a priority on your farm operation. After all, as an agricultural producer, the success of your business is based on its ability to market and sell its products, no matter if it is corn, milk, beef, apples or fresh-cut flowers. Don’t automatically assume that your marketing strategy from 20, 10 or even two years ago still applies. Your marketing plan should constantly evolve and adapt to changes within your operation and marketplace.

Article courtesy of Raechel Sattazahn and AgChoice Farm Credit.

Link Photo courtesy of Paul Worthington

How do you approach marketing? Share with us your tips and ideas!