Farm Marketing: The Pitch

9 May

So we’ve already covered the basics of farm marketing. We’ve come up with our farm’s identity, and we’ve put that identity (brand) to use.  Now comes the part where we actually come up with our “pitch” so to speak.  Now our pitch is pretty straightforward when we’re at a farmers market.  We engage the customer in conversation, extoll the virtues of our product, and answer any questions that they might have.  Again, this is our strong suit as small farmers.  We know our product better than anyone, and we are passionate about it, which usually makes for a pretty good pitch.

Where we get into the weeds so-to-speak is when we extend our marketing beyond our conversations with customers.  I know, because I too am guilty of this.  I noticed that I was framing my own farming with a lot of negative statements.  I was so caught up in explaining what Green Machine Farm isn’t that I had neglected to explain what it is about.

I have a theory about why so many farmers fall into this trap, and it’s all about that one customer

We’ve all had the customer who comes to our booth and leads off with a simple question. “Is it (organic/local/hormone-free, etc.)?” And while the single question, and subsequent curt dismissal of anything not meeting the standard is memorable, it shouldn’t inform the rest of our marketing efforts.

We wouldn’t want to base our marketing on these folks would we?

As many of you can attest, the fine folks at “Portlandia” seem to have hit on something here.  We typically have a very small number of customers who are adamant about getting the “right” food.  This may be a well-informed or ill-informed idea of what constitutes “right” food, but their insistence is challenging, and we end up defining ourselves based on those few customers.

It would seem that as farmers, we could devote great tomes and epic poems to defining what we are NOT. Our meat is hormone-free, antibiotic-free, free-range, pastured and fed no soy.  Our veggies are pesticide-free, GMO-free, heirloom, no-spray and no-till.  We are very good at describing what we are not, by-in-large, our prospective customers don’t know what that means or how that benefits them. We need to improve our ability to define what our products are as opposed to defining what they are not.

I was reading a copy of Inc. magazine today out of complete boredom, when I happened upon an article that was quite apropos.  In particular, Elizabeth Nientimp’s three tips for designing food packaging were particularly enlightening.

Three things. First, make it simple.  Resist the urge to tell consumers everything about your brand on the front of the package.  Second, make it special. Understand what makes your brand unique and own it. Finally, make it personal. Know what motivates them; let them see themselves in your brand.

There’s a lot there in those three little points.  Take them to heart, because they are the best advise you’re likely to hear.

The first two are pretty simple, but it’s that pesky third point that’s often hard for us farmer-types.  It’s often difficult to put ourselves in the shoes of our customers and to understand their motivations for buying our products.  Fortunately, a marketing blogger-fella has a pretty good run-down as far as that goes.

This is where knowing your audience becomes so critical. There are too many psychological movers to name. These “movers” are emotions and desires that move people to buy. Some movers are negative and some are positive. All of them are based on emotion. Here’s a few small examples…

Frustration, Fear, Stress, Anxiety, Insecurity, Complacent, Bored, Desperate, Confused, Self-conscious, Disgust, Laziness, Helpless, Overwhelmed, and Disappointed.

Love, Freedom, Respect, Wealthy, Amused, Security, Accomplished, Essential, Dependable, Stability, Spontaneous, Joy, Fulfillment, Pride, Supportive, Admiration and Confidence.

As I said, there are more movers than I can list here.

Remember that stuff I said in the last installment?  You know, “consistency is key” and all that?  Yup, applies here too.

Your top 3 should become an underlying theme to your marketing and your content. You always want to be leading your prospects to action. Smart marketing isn’t blasting your “please buy my stuff” message to the masses. It’s showing your target audience you have a solution to their problems.

So there we have it.  Easy as 1, 2, 3.  Well, easier said than done anyway.  These little tidbits from the big marketing gurus are pretty handy, but as with branding, it’s not something you can just do once and forget about.  Marketing, like farming is not about magic bullets, it’s a long slow slog, but the result will be worth it.

Stay tuned for the next installment, were we discuss the last piece of the trifecta: Embracing Technology.  Also, you’ll get to see me (an near luddite) try to backpedal on my aversion to social media and smartphones. Hooray!

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