As mealtime manager for Garnish & Gather, Danielle Moore sources ingredients from farmers for their gourmet meal kits, so she knows firsthand how effective marketing can drive business for growers. Luckily for us, she’s going to talk about how the best, easiest ways for farmers to market themselves at the 17th Annual Georgia Organics Conference, Green Acres, Saving the Planet One Bite at a Time. A recording of a session from the conference called “This Little Piggy Went to Market: Marketing for Farmers” can be found here.
What factors should farmers consider when figuring out a their marketing strategy? The most important factor is for farmers to realize that they need a marketing strategy. It doesn’t have to be complicated, but farmers do need to think about (1) what they are going to say (2) how they are going to say it (3) where they are going to say it, (4) who they are going to say it to and (5) why it’s important. Farmers need to go beyond growing the food in order to grow the business. We are lucky to be in an era where local farming is at the forefront of people’s minds. A lot of people know they want to eat local, but don’t know where to start. It is the farmers’ responsibility to let these people know what’s growing and where it can be purchased.
What kind of tools are at a farmers’ disposal in terms of marketing? The internet has made it easy (and cheap!) to reach a huge audience. Social media has allowed marketing to become a two-way conversation. All of the sudden, we can have personal relationships with the businesses we love. People want to see pictures of the farm, they want to hear about your growing philosophy and practices and they want to feel like they are a part of the process. The internet is a powerful tool to talk to your customers each day. Whether its a weekly email, a blog post or a social media update, you can continue to build a relationship with your customers every day.
What are some common considerations specifically for marketing at farmers markets? Through the My Market Club, a program that I manage for Georgia Organics that encourages new people to start shopping at farmers markets across the state, we have found that one of the biggest lures of the farmers market (aside from the delicious food) is the interaction with farmers and a sense of connection with the community. Shoppers want to talk to the people that grew their food and have a relationship with them. This sense of belonging is something that farmers can foster all week, not just at the market. If a customer starts the week getting an email update from the farm, watches them on social media all week to understand what they are doing to get the food to market and reads a blog about the harvest, by the time they get to market they feel a sense of connection to the food they are seeing. All of the sudden, a tomato becomes more than just a tomato! It’s more special because they really have a grasp on how it got to them. If farmers use all these outlets to reach their customers, then engage them at market, offering recipes and advice, then they are creating a love of their brand that is going to keep that person coming back – even in these cold winter months.