How to Market your Farm and Increase Sales
A few tips from AmHydro
This week, we wanted to share a few pieces of marketing and sales advice that might come in handy as you look to develop a business model or improve your economic returns.
Only you can develop a full mastery of your local market and know how to meet its needs. But these tips, covering a few different categories, might prove useful. These are all ideas we’ve seen our customers use successfully, and they may help you too!
Of course you know how important it is to monitor your bottom line and track profits and losses, but if you want to make smart decisions about marketing, it’s important to get even more granular. How are your different revenue streams performing relative to each other? How did your customers hear about you? Don’t rely on impressions or “anecdata” (anecdotal data). Tracking numbers and data points can help you identify trends and know where to refocus your efforts.
Survey your customers regularly
This is related to the previous point, but worth specifying. It’s much easier to keep business than to earn new business, but that doesn’t mean you should take existing customers for granted. Their feedback can help you identify pain points, earn referrals, and learn how they became customers in the first place. This information is invaluable, but you’ll never know if you don’t ask.
Turn Individual Customers Into Wholesale Customers
If you have any opportunities for direct sales to consumers, like a farmers market or farm stand, always be on the lookout for customers like chefs or other foodservice providers who might be interested in starting a new wholesale account. Chefs love visiting farmers markets to find the most fresh and delicious food to share with their diners. That type of opportunity will be rare, but a proactive approach will make sure it doesn’t slip through your fingers.
Host Special Events
Another way to reach chefs and produce purchasers is to host special events directly at your farm. Consider teaming up with a local chef to host a pop-up dinner at your greenhouse. Pop-ups like this are one of the premier ways that up-and-coming chefs seek to make a name for themselves, and their industry contacts are often the first people on the guest list. You can also invite local grocers to wine and dine and see the quality of your products firsthand.
Make Direct Asks
Marketing is good, but just showing off a product will only get you so far. No matter what market you are targeting – whether it’s independent grocers, restaurants, or other institutions with produce needs – the most important thing to do is put together a list of leads and then do direct outreach. Especially when you’re starting out. Even if your product is far superior than existing options, many people are comfortable sticking with what they know. To break into a market, you need to work harder to earn new business than the other companies are working to keep it.
We get it, you’re a farmer. You just want to grow a better plant, not win an award for advertising. It’s true that the products speak for themselves, but if you want to grab someone’s attention, it really helps to have beautiful design. Whether you’re handing out business cards or pamphlets, packing your produce, or putting up signs, having quality branding can help you catch a potential customer’s eye. If you have experience in graphic design or photography, that’s great! But if not, consider hiring someone to help make your products look as appealing as possible.
Everyone Loves Free Samples
One of the best ideas we’ve heard from a new farmer was to put together a gift basket full of samples to take on sales cold calls. Showing up like a farmer of old – with your arms full of produce that you’re giving away – is a great way to get someone’s undivided attention.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but hopefully some of these ideas inspire your own creativity!
Have any other unique tactics that have worked well for you?
Let us know! We’re all in this together, and inspiring each other to make hydroponics more well-known and sought-out will help grow our entire industry.