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Exploring Farm Marketing

Exploring Farm Marketing

Many farmers begin farming because they love the hands-on work; the opportunity to spend the day outdoors, as backbreaking as it can be, often appeals more than the idea of worrying about details such as marketing and sales. On Wednesday, March 20th, instructor Myrna Greenfield came to Glynwood to host a workshop to demystify the idea of creating a farm marketing plan. 20 regional farmers received valuable tools to use in the process of better marketing their products.

Having founded Good Egg Marketing with a focus on good food and good causes, Myrna offered a helpful voice to farmers hoping to make a conscientious living while still ensuring fair compensation for their goods at market. While some attendees were interested in increasing their farms’ CSA shares this season, others were looking to determine the best practices to use for their products to make a splash in the online marketplace. Still other farmers came seeking advice for executing public events.  

The workshop was the second part of a two part series that Myrna taught, featuring a webinar the week prior to give attendees some background on the subject matter.  As a result, farmers came to Glynwood already prepared to discuss their “homework” from the week before. To prepare them for the class, each was asked to write down a measurable goal for their business, define their target audience or customer, and begin to sketch out a draft plan to follow. This way, everyone in the room had a tangible target in mind while Myrna reviewed the most critical marketing tools for farmers to know.

Tailoring her topics to a farming audience, Myrna shared principles such the 6 “P’s” of Farm Marketing - products, price, placement, presentation, people, and promotion. With respect to pricing, the group discussed managing the challenges of wholesale transactions as opposed to direct marketing to the general public in the form of farm stands, farmers markets, etc. Myrna also stressed the power of appealing to the customer, in particular citing free samples as a powerful and underutilized tool for those selling food items. Myrna walked through a host of general marketing principles, including phenomena such as the process of customer attraction, engagement, and action before delving deeper and reviewing more technical concepts related to online tools, including Google Analytics and leveraging search algorithms.

The final activity involved farmers splitting up into groups to offer each other advice with their individual business goals. The room was abuzz with conversation as workshop attendees shared their unique perspectives on each other’s marketing obstacles. By the end of the day, it seemed as though these were less: “obstacles,” and more: “challenges” that could be turned into “opportunities” using the tools presented.

Note: This marketing workshop was the last in a series of winter farmer intensives that were funded in part by a USDA Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program Award (Award #: 2017-70017-27153)