When you think “farmer,” the image in your mind might be from childhood books and songs, “Old McDonald had a Farm,” – a person working in the field with a big straw hat and driving a tractor. That might still be true for some, but our Blue Forest Farms farmer partners don’t fit a single mold. And today a successful farmer needs to work just as hard on their marketing strategies as they do outdoors in their fields to be successful. Modern times mean there are way more opportunities for farmers to market directly to their consumers, but also that failing to do so could cause new, or even well established, farmers to struggle or fail. Some questions to ask yourself are:
- what does a successful marketing plan look like?
- what options exist for farmers to market themselves?
- what strategies have proven to be the best investments of your time and resources?
Each farmer is unique, but there are some universal tips that can be applied to help get your business on an upward trajectory.
Hemp Sales Avenues
If you have a farm, especially a small or new one, you know that selling your entire crop is typically the goal. You have that short window after harvest to move your product, and identifying all the possible ways to sell your crop or products will give you the most opportunities to sell out your stock. The simplest solution is obviously direct sales, where you simply set up a structure or location on your property where people can come and purchase directly from you. This has tons of convenience, but obviously relies on your farm being accessible and visible, or having some way to drive traffic to your locale.
Many farmers rely on Farmers Markets, which bring a large number of people to a central location instead of, or in addition to, them coming directly to you. If your farm is within driving distance of a Farmers Market, having a booth or space, especially if you can arrange to be in the same location for each market, can connect you with a pool of ideal customers, and lead to repeat sales just by you showing up. Make sure to distinguish yourself by giving thought to the look of your stand and display, and making sure the name of your farm or products is prominent using a banner or logo. Friendly staff and samples, if appropriate, are other ways to drive traffic to your booth.
Community Supported Agriculture is a fairly recent innovation that gets your wares in the hands of consumers who will appreciate them. CSA shares is a system that individual customers buy into. People agree to support you season by season for a certain dollar amount, for which you will give them an agreed upon amount of your crop on a regular basis. This has the advantage of building your customer base, while also knowing exactly how much money you can expect to make. Finally, speaking to local restaurants or shops can be a very consistent and reliable source of income, even for hemp farmers. Restaurants, chefs, and boutique owners love to access fresh, local ingredients and will often pay well for them.
Be High Grade – Stand Out From The Crowd
You’re eventually going to have to figure out the best platforms for reaching your customers, but first you should determine what makes you and your farm unique. Assume that every potential customer that comes to your site or reads your blog is wondering why they should buy from you instead of someone else. What is unique about you, your farm, or your products that can’t be found elsewhere? Imagine your target demographic and speak to them as directly as possible. Being able to preemptively answer questions or ease concerns will make your customers more eager to purchase from you right away. Finally, a strong logo and tagline can be useful in building your brand. You don’t have to hire an ad company – you are the expert on your farm after all – so think about how to sum up who you are and what you do. Talk to your friends after you come up with some ideas. Logos can be simple, but should clearly represent your business and objectives in a positive way. You want people to feel good about your brand when they see it. Taglines should emphasize the unique qualities of your brand, and be short and memorable. Logos and taglines are all around us. Identify some that strike you and and brainstorm until you find something you think represents your business and goals best.
Marketing is an ever changing landscape. What worked ten years ago won’t today, and what works today may not work tomorrow. The difference between successful businesses and ones that struggle or fail is the ability to adapt and evolve with the trends, while staying true to their core values. Farmers may have one of the oldest professions that exists, but you need to be on the cutting edge with technology if you hope to survive and thrive. These tips should help you get a start in marketing your farm, but marketing is an ongoing process of learning and growing that should not be neglected.
Get Your Name Out There
Now that you’ve figured out your distinctive edge in the landscape of farm products – hemp or otherwise – it’s time to figure out how to get your name out there, especially if you want to grow. Actually, no matter how big or small your farm is, a strong presence on the internet can enhance your business in today’s world. The internet is the first place people go to when searching for everything, even fresh produce or products. Buying locally is a common value these days, and you want your business to show up in those searches and look professional. That means more than having a website, though. Social media, such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are just as important for bringing people to your business. Having all these tools isn’t enough, though, you have to maintain and be active on them, too. Your website should obviously have all the information people need: where you’re located, how to contact you, what your products are, etc, but having a regular blog and posting and communicating on social media regularly will help keep your name relevant when people search. If you have products that can be mailed, that is another easy way to make additional sales.
We may not always like it, but the online world of marketing directly to consumers is here to stay! It’s really not that hard to get started and stay relevant to the ideal consumer of your farm products.