Made in collaboration with Mieko Ozeki of Radiance Studios LLC and Taylor Katz of Free Verse Studio.
Let’s not beat around the bush: building a business is hard. Especially a farm business.
Even if you offer amazing products and services, your business might not bloom to its full potential. You need to put in the time to make your wonderful farm business known so that you can retain your customers and draw in new ones.
But how does one go about marketing a farming business, especially when their day is full of chores? Where do you start?
Last February, a few of my colleagues and I went to the NOFA-VT Winter Conference. That’s where I met Mieko Ozeki and Taylor Katz, two incredible people who helped me better understand the reality and struggles of e-farming marketing.
I found their conference so interesting that I wanted to share what I learned with as many people as I can. Since there’s so much to cover, this will be the 1st blogpost out of 3!
So now, let’s embark together on this adventure toward the mysterious world of e-farming marketing!
You’re already marketing without knowing it!
E-farming marketing can start as easily as having a single sign at a farmers' market. Merely having a booth with a sign or even pamphlets means you are already serving as a representative for your farm, discussing your cultivation methods, produce and the reasons behind them.
It is, in its way, a form of marketing!
The crucial step is to effectively convey the same enthusiasm you have for engaging in person with people in the digital sphere. That’s why you must be clear about your e-farming marketing goals and brand identity!
Understanding your brand
Whether directly or indirectly, the perception of a business, organization or individual by those interacting with it defines its brand.
Beyond that, a brand is characterized by the feeling your products evoke and the consistent promise of what your farming business delivers each time a customer comes back.
Define your brand by clearly establishing:
Your farm or organization's name;
How do you communicate (Is your tone friendly and familiar? Professional and high-end? Funny and sassy? etc.);
What do you want a person to feel when interacting with your company?;
Your business’ strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (S.W.O.T).
While planning your brand identity, start by researching your audience, proposition value and competition.
If being artistic and creative is not your forte, you can use tools that can help you generate a logo.
Keep in mind that, once you have created your brand identity, your goal is to make it as clear for your customers as it is for you. For example, when your customers talk about your farming business to their friends, does it match your value proposition?
These are the best ways to make sure there’s no confusion is to stay true and transparent:
Don’t give your customers mixed signals;
Don’t lose consistency between online and offline;
Don’t chase trends if they’re not compatible with your original brand identity;
Don’t copy your competitors, let your personality shine!
Once you have a better understanding of your identity brand and what you wish to convey with it, you can start…
Working on your e-farming marketing strategy
For starters, when it comes to marketing, make sure that your products (what you offer), your prices and your online and offline locations are always easy to find and consistent.
Then, once those bases are covered, ask yourself these questions to build a solid e-farming marketing strategy:
What are my goals?
Who’s my ideal customer and how will I improve their life?
What’s my message?
What’s my budget?
What are the most appropriate venues for my content?
What are my metrics to measure my success?
Also, if you want to efficiently market your farming business, you’ll need to respect these 3 universal criteria.
Clearly define your message
Speak to your customers with clear and direct language. The way you communicate information will be greatly influenced by your audience; make sure you integrate language that is familiar to your audience to optimize your chance to connect and advertise with them.
This acronym stands for many things: “Keep it short and simple.” “Keep it simple and straightforward.”
“Keep it simple, stupid!”
All you have to remember is to not make it complicated for your customers to find information about your products and services.
“The 5 senses are the ministers of the soul”
Da Vinci was definitely onto something. Engaging one or all of the 5 senses always is a great way to create an interest for an individual and even a long-term bond, especially in the farming business. That’s why you should present authentic content that engages and immerses the five senses.
Finally, you can start exploring your e-farming marketing promotion strategies. Promotion strategies depend on your budget, your objective and your audience. You could promote your farm with:
A dynamic online presence;
Advertisements in your local media;
Partnerships with small businesses and stores like supermarkets and mini groceries;
Exhibitions like a farmers’ market, agricultural events and trade shows;
Discounts and giveaways;
E-farming marketing can be tricky; some neglect this aspect of a business in fear of appearing like they’re money-hungry or a sellout.
But marketing doesn’t have to be perceived as this monstrous, capitalist beast. The beauty of it is that, like a wild animal, you can tame it by taking one step at a time and transforming it to match the core values that make you, you.
Now that you’ve defined clearly your brand identity and e-farming marketing strategy, go take a break! I’ll see you again for the 2nd part of the blog series, where we’ll learn how to create your digital portfolio and website.