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Growing Trust: Strategies for Farm Marketing and Customer Loyalty

We’re back with a new season of The Grower & The Economist! As a reminder, we aim our podcast toward small- to medium- sized operations, whether farms, value-added food products, flowers or greenhouses. We are welcomed today by Myrna Greenfield, food marketing consultant and author of Marketing Your Farm, to discuss the importance of marketing, real world examples and strategies to get started.

Myrna received a double major in Political Science and Women's Studies, which doesn’t explain her career as a food marketing expert; instead, it offers the notion that there are many pathways to the agriculture industry. We hope this conversation along with other GATE episodes emulate the need for connection within food systems and extended industries. 

Photo by Richard VanVranken

We started the discussion by asking Myrna to define marketing - “It is about the seller connecting with your customers with some form of exchange. On farms, they’re typically exchanging products, services or increasingly offering experiences." Through Myrna's consulting business, Good Egg Marketing, she asks farmers if they are presenting their product with clear intentions and personal style. This is what draws people to a particular farm and particular products. In other words, sales are getting the actual product, service or experience to the consumer versus marketing is the way that you persuade them to make a purchase.

There are many reasons that this can be challenging for a small- or medium- sized grower. Time is a big barrier, especially for small farmers during harvest season. Small farmers may not be able to afford a full-time marketing employee, may only sell through one channel and labor can be challenging as well. Farmers may simply not want to track data that may support new marketing strategies. Another challenge we discussed is deciding on simple, compelling language to represent the farm. Myrna provides a focused marketing agenda that can help small farmers benefit from doing fewer things more effectively rather than feeling like they need to attract a new audience on the latest social media platform. 

Mryna guides the shift from growing food to attributes that customers experience when they eat your food. A loyal customer’s desire goes beyond getting fed. It keeps customers coming back, saves you time and money, and is more rewarding. Why may a customer want flowers in their house? It is important to create that positive association so that whenever your customer sees a notification or email from your farm, they feel good!

Social media is a form of marketing and tends to be one of the first tactical approaches that farmers mention in Myrna’s marketing workshops.

"It is a combination of art and science”.

Photo from Good Egg Marketing Facebook page

Online marketing is certainly easier to track results, but it’s not as defined as other aspects of science. Digital presence is necessary in today's market, but one-page websites or a Facebook page is enough to let customers know where to find you. Myrna shares a sneak peak into the “speed marketing” steps detailed in her book and workshops:

  1. Define a clear goal and target audience.

  2. Set specific tactics to get your target audience to participate in your goal.

  3. Identify what makes your audience excited to come back.

  4. Identify key metrics to track results. 

For example, your goal may be to attract more repeat visitors. You can give people a coupon to use the next time they come back or launch a loyalty program with your Point of Sales platform. Myrna notes that trying lots of different strategies at once is harder to prove. One key learning from Myrna’s workshops is that farmers tend to see each other as peers and enjoy sharing ideas. Peter and I add that there are a lot of resources available, room for cross-pollination and perhaps a consolidated knowledge hub. I summarize the conversation -

“Marketing was never about necessarily selling more.. It was always about building a relationship with the customers that you wanted.”

You can learn more and purchase Marketing Your Farm on, in addition to Amazon. Myrna started interviewing farmers and sharing their stories about 1 or 2 tactics that they use to market at their farm!

Listen to the full podcast and catch weekly episodes on all farming topics here.

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