As many farmers begin planning their farm, the area of marketing appears as a giant, intimidating question mark. While everybody knows that marketing is imperative to success, not many people feel comfortable working with it. This leads to one of two reactions.
1) In the worst case scenario, a farmer shoves marketing onto a back burner and focuses on growing.
To see why this is a problem, let's review the main purposes of farm marketing:
Strengthens the relationship between farmer and customer (one of your greatest advantages of a local farm)
Lines up potential clients for future sales and contributes to the longterm growth of your farm
When farms don't have marketing in place, they can take a hit both in existing clientele and future clientele.
2) On the other end of the spectrum, we get plenty of panicked emails from farmers who are desperate for info, asking, "How do I start marketing my farm?"
Whether you're the first or the second type of farmer, we're glad that you found this post!
Today we're going to take a look at 6 essential marketing materials to start with in any market. These materials are the visual representation of your farm and are important to begin with.
Here's a list of the essential marketing materials for Upstart Farms- and an easy way to get everything done.
A logo is one of the first items you need to develop. It is an identifying mark that you will use on every other marketing material you create.
Simple though logos appear, plan on spending a huge amount of time to find a design that works for you.
When developing a logo, take time to think about where it will be used. Is it just as recognizable when it's the size of a dime as when it's printed on a billboard? Does it read well if printed in one-color or grayscale?
Think, too, about what you want your logo to convey. Is there a specific element that represents your farm? Can you reasonably include that element in the logo?
Take a look at the most recognizable logos you see every day. This SlideShare gives a great look at the elements of strong logo design.
We recommend getting feedback on logo design before finishing it.
Letterhead is always good to have on hand. It adds a professional touch to any formal communications or contracts.
If you're going to be creating surveys, contracts, letters, or receipts in the name of your farm, create a letterhead.
Having a logo helps when designing your letterhead.
An email banner is the electronic equivalent of your letterhead.
Email marketing is essential in today's digital world. Upstart Farmers frequently use email to communicate with CSA shareholders or send a weekly newsletter update to customers.
You want an email banner to announce your emails and lend a professional appearance. It should be consistent with the branding you use on all other materials.
As with your letterhead, a logo will help you create a nice, professionally branded email banner.
Here's a clamshell example from BayBerry Fresh.
If they decide to sell a cut product, most Upstart Farmers use clamshells to package their greens and herbs.
While Upstart Farmers typically avoid packaging their own products by using the Live Sales model, you'll need to provide a container for your customers to harvest into. And, at some point, you might want to sell a pre-cut product.
Label your packaging with your farm name and a description of what's inside - like "Greens," "Herbs," or something similar. It's good practice to include contact information for the farm, like address and phone number.
When labeling a pre-cut product, you must also include the net weight.
If you're using a UPC, make sure it's prominently displayed for easy check-out.
Live sales sign
If you're using the Live Sales model, you might need to explain it. When you're first starting, customers won't understand how the Live Sales model works.
Create a clear graphic sign that explains the step-by-step process to customers. Show that they pick their own, bag it, and pay according to what they harvest.
A business card is the easiest piece of marketing material to keep with you at all times.
Thanks to its small size, you can carry a few in any pocket, wallet, or purse. That means it's easy for your recipient to hold onto, too, making it less likely that your information will be lost.
Make sure your business card stands out from the crowd. Many business cards have a tendency to look plain, similar, and boring.
Consider a colorful, modern design or a different card shape (as long as that shape can still fit easily in someone's wallet).
Pamphlets and brochures
Pamphlets and brochures are optional, but they're often helpful if your farm is just launching and needs to provide customers with more info than a name and web address.
For example, we've used brochures to advertise for our local CSA program in order to give prospects information on share size, pricing, and harvest frequency.
Despite the extra room available, don't get too text-heavy with a brochure.
Make your copy skimmable, easy to read, and to-the-point. You have only a few seconds to engage your customer.
How do I get all this done?
This may only be 6 items, but most Upstart Farmers are already overwhelmed by system design, setup, and growing - and graphic design isn't exactly an area of expertise.
We recommend using a professional service to help with marketing graphic design. Bright Agrotech's resident Graphic Designer Reese Plante has these tips regarding professional graphic design:
"Having a beautiful website, logo, and brand can give you a professional edge over your competitors. Your brand is how customers will see your company, and your website will often be the first point of contact that they have with you. Branding is key and shouldn’t be neglected, especially by companies who are just starting out!
In the interest of making your company look as good as it possibly can, you may want to consider hiring an outside company to help you with your brand. Here are a few benefits to having a professional help you:
• Brand can help set you apart from the competition – you want to get it right from the start!
• Branding promotes company recognition.
• Logos and Website that are poorly done may communicate an amateur business. You don’t want your customers to associate cheapness with your brand!
• If you hire the right professional – they know what they are doing! Just as you are an expert in your field, they are an expert at making your company look good."