Selling a farm product or service direct to the consumer can be a significant opportunity for many farm businesses in a range of sectors. Many successful businesses have added event venues, onward processing of primary produce, tourist accommodation, farm shops, cafes, and on-farm experiences to their core farm business. For some these have grown to overtake the original farm business in size, and many have developed significant income streams to support the next generation returning to the farm business.
Keeping it in house
In the start-up phase of a new enterprise initial budgets may not stretch to a full-scale suite of marketing tools, or significant external marketing campaign. However, finding the time and resources to manage your own marketing campaign can reap rewards especially with farm connection giving easy access to a plethora of engaging stories.
After the initial set up, marketing should be scheduled to take up a small portion of any one person’s day.
It sounds obvious, but it’s important to remember that social media serves a specific purpose which is to engage with your target audience.
The stories about your farm and business should engage your audience and demonstrate the benefits that your product can bring to them and how it can enrich their lives. When thinking about your product and why a consumer should choose yours over a competitor’s, keep this to front of mind when designing campaigns.
Although marketing’s primary purpose is to help engage with a target audience to generate sales, it also has the extra side effect of forcing a fledgling business to hone their story and try different styles to find out what works and what doesn’t for your product or offer. What stories deliver the best results and with whom? What is your market?
Social Media platforms
There are 5 main social media platforms to engage with. They all have a different reason for existing and it is important to understand their individual purposes so that your time spent with them supports your business and sales goals. Also, how will you design a campaign for sales that speaks to the different demographics on each platform?
Twitter (TW): is for news. It’s hard to see its value as a sales platform for the farm diversification activities described here, however it can be useful for last minute special offers as a news item, or for sharing your news. It can also help broaden your network of like-minded businesses.
Facebook (FB): is focused on people related stories of personal success, failure and often some struggle. How can you turn this into an opportunity for sales for your business? What aspects of your product talk to this concept? It is less obvious for an outstanding steak, and more so for an on-farm nature walk. The other aspect of FB activity is that it is a very widely used platform amongst an older demographic, with time and disposable income, and the platform has a wide range of users. Many micro food businesses do all their business on FB.
Instagram (IG): is an aspirational lifestyle choice for people to engage with. Does your product deliver this? What are you selling that could work here? Great pictures, with happy people enjoying amazing views on farm as they celebrate their engagement / wedding / significant life event / holiday can be very compelling and generate sales leads.
LinkedIn (LI): a useful platform for recruiting staff and for demonstrating, as a business owner, where your personal values lie. Less obvious for sales.
TikTok: well embedded now into the social media mix, if the concept of clips of footage on repeat is a struggle for you to see how it turns into sales, then please think again. This is the platform for selling actual products. The algorithms are tight and are based on users’ interests. The products that users are offered in their feed are honed to those interests. Interestingly, it is also increasingly popular amongst Gen Z users as a replacement for a Google search.
YouTube: a channel for storing video resources, it can be monetised, and can turn into a business in its own right.
Podcasting: exposure of your business aspiration and reputation on the range of farming podcasts can help you hone and craft your story.
Mailchimp: lastly, never forget the power of regular email communication with your current customers via the most widely used free platform for managing your mailing lists. Keep it brief, not too often, and occasionally, surprise and delight them with small offer for their loyalty. It’s a small cost of sales that can work wonders.
Sascha.Grierson@sac.co.uk, 07557 661 316
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