I recently chatted with Colleen, a long-time member of ours at Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund (FTCLDF). Colleen and her husband Mark own Misty-River Farm, a small goat operation in Wisconsin. They have been raising goats for over 13 years and have been farming on their property for over 30. Colleen loves working on the farm with God’s creations, observing the circle of life and death, and working closely with her family.
A Farmer’s Hourly Rate
Colleen calculated that over the last 13 years, working seven days a week, she makes just $4.35 an hour. When one of her sons expressed interest in taking over the farm in the future, she found herself considering if it would be irresponsible to bring the next generation into farming. Colleen estimated that her son would have to work 26 hours a day to make what he is making now at an off-farm job. As a consumer (I don’t farm yet!), this was troubling and left me with many questions. Two that stuck out were: How can we keep farmers farming? How can we help keep farmers profitable?
Increasing profitability and helping farmers do what they love is vital to our mission at FTCLDF, and we are committed to farmer viability. We have seen progress made for our farmers when they commit to a marketing strategy and make changes to how they engage with customers. Colleen even said it herself: a little marketing goes a long way. I know marketing might seem intimidating, but with expert advice and simple actionable items, farmers can successfully market their farms in just minutes a day.
We’re lucky to have Charlotte Smith of 3 Cow Marketing as a supporter of FTCLDF. Charlotte has developed successful marketing strategies, a book, a new podcast, and courses to turn farmers into marketers. Even more, Charlotte was one of our featured speakers at the Profitable Farm Workshop where we spent an entire day focusing on profitability. See below for Charlotte’s best tips and visit 3 Cow Marketing for the full post and more.
Check back here next month for an article all about email marketing!
How to Better Market Your Farm
1. Focus On Relationships
Focus on becoming your customer’s farmer! Try to get your customers talking, and find out how your products can help solve a problem they might have. This approach will increase their loyalty to you, and you will gain a customer for life.
2. Define Your Dream Customer
Think of your favorite customer. What makes her unique? What qualities does she have that make her an ideal customer? Focus on those customers. When you think about marketing, focus on attracting that specific kind of customer.
3. Utilize Email
Start using an email service provider (MailChimp is an excellent service, and is FREE for under 2,000 subscribers). Start collecting email addresses, and obtain consent for sending monthly, if not weekly, email communication about what’s happening on your farm. This is where you write to your ideal customer! Social media is not enough because you do not control what information your followers see. If you start collecting emails and build a list, you will have direct access to those customers.
4. Be Consistent
Develop a timeline for when you’re sending emails. If it is 12 times a year, stick with it!
5. Plan Ahead
If you plan on sending 12 emails a year, think about what holidays, seasons, and farm events occur during those months and plan your communication around that.
6. Put Yourself Out There
Talk yourself up! You are an excellent farmer, and you sell exceptional products. Be available when your customers stop by the farm and talk to them, find out how your products are making an impact, and show your appreciation for customer loyalty. A great idea is to host “Open Farm Hours” once a week. Setting up hours ahead of time and making yourself available allows them to have access to you while setting healthy boundaries for yourself so you don’t burn out. A little schmoozing goes a long way.
And remember you’re not alone in your efforts. There is a huge community of farmers just like yourself looking to increase profitability, connect with their customers, and begin marketing.
YOUR FUND AT WORK
Services provided by FTCLDF go beyond legal representation for members in court cases.
Educational and policy work also provide an avenue for FTCLDF to build grassroots activism to create the most favorable regulatory climate possible. In addition to advising on bill language, FTCLDF supports favorable legislation via action alerts and social media outreach.