It is unlikely that your farm diversification project is a completely new idea. The truth is there is now growing competition in many of the common farm diversification sectors such as glamping. So how can you make sure that your farm marketing is effective and impactful?
The key is to work out who you need to target with your farm marketing, rather than trying to target everyone. We call this your ideal customer or ICA. An ideal customer is your image or description of your perfect customer. This is not to say that these will be your only customers, but these are the customers that you should focus on, the ones you should market to and the ones that will make your farm business successful.
Now more important than ever that you have a keen understanding of the specific market you want to target. We are all bombarded with a huge quantity of marketing messages and content every day, therefore there is a huge amount of noise to cut through with your marketing messages. Being specific helps you to do this.
In simple terms there are two choices here, compete with all the noise to shout the loudest. This means spending big on trying to market at everyone, and most likely failing, even the big companies tend to have some market segmentation. Or you can choose to market to the few who are already trying to listen to you, this requires greater market research and understanding of your customer. But it means your customers are far more likely to see your content and resonate with it, therefore your Agri-marketing budget can be spent far more effectively.
Farm marketing only works effectively when it is targeted. So, if you are trying to market to everyone you will end up marketing to no one. The more you dig down into who your customers really are the more effective your marketing will be. And this is not just a case of demographics, like how old they are or their gender. This is about working out what their interests are, their behaviours, their thought process.
Once you’ve nailed down your ideal customer you need to work out what problem you are solving for them. People buy stuff they need. They want services and products which are going to solve a problem in their life. If you market your product as something that customers may want but do not need, then that is a product they can take or leave. And sometimes they will do just that leave it. Customers who are not fully committed to the benefits of your product are more likely to quibble about the product in some way, and they are more likely to try and negotiate on price. Overall, they will place a lower value on your service than those who see your product as a need, those customers who see the wide benefits of buying or using your product.
If you sell your ideal customer a solution to a problem or fear which is affecting them, they are going to see that is far more valuable than the physical service or product itself. Instead, they will see the value you can add is not just in the specific product it is the peripheral benefits that go with that or that customer.
So maybe you’re not selling just a piece of meat inside you’re selling an idea of sustainability you’re spoiling that person supporting and the accounting and all of these things tie into the value they place on that piece of meat.
Once you have identified your ideal customer, their pain point, and the key solution your products can offer the next stage is to consider how these can be formed into marketing messages. You should have 3-5 key marketing messages which are central to your whole marketing strategy. These messages should be clear and quantifiable. We want to move beyond simply going, a key marketing message is ‘quality’ go further. For example, as a meat producer, this might be ‘sustainably reared rare breed beef’ or so on. These messages should apply to all the products you sell and to your business as a whole.
Key marketing messages should encompass the key defining features of your ideal customers as well as highlighting the problem you solve for them. This should be based on words that will resonate with your ideal customer and make them feel as if you are speaking with them directly.
The key to any successful farm marketing strategy is consistency. So often we see farm businesses throw everything into one marketing channel for a week or two only to become frustrated by a lack of results and swap tactics. The issue is this isn’t long enough. A good tip is to consider how much time you can reasonably commit to farm marketing activities each day, week or month. Then work back from there to work out which tasks are most important and how much effort you can commit to each marketing channel.
For example, you should ideally be posting to your social media platforms at least 5 times per week. This stat will vary depending on the platform and the business, but I would normally consider social media as a daily marketing task. That doesn’t mean you have to do it once per day every day. If you find it easier to write content in blocks you can do this and then use a scheduling system to post the content to your platform of choice. There is a huge range of options with scheduling systems, but a good free/cheap option is Later.com. The key is to be consistent and to find what works for you and your lifestyle. Once you make it a habit it should become a natural part of your routine.
Personally, I like to set aside about 1 full day per month to prepare and schedule all my core marketing for the following month. I then top up the content day to day with content that is either in-the-moment content – e.g., Instagram Stories – or relevant to a specific event or news story. I will then set myself about 1-2 hours of work per week on anything which can’t be prepared ahead of time for example engaging with my audience, commenting on ideal customer posts and relationship marketing such as networking events.
If you set yourself a tasks list and add it to your diary or calendar you are much more likely to be consistent and to stick to your marketing strategy rather than going through a period of all or nothing marketing.
I often see business owners online complaining they aren’t getting much engagement on their posts and that their reach has decreased significantly. The first thing I always ask is, are you engaging with your audience? Most of the time they say yes of course I post regularly; I reply to all comments and so on. But this approach relies on the audience starting the conversation with you.
So, then I ask what posts do to engage with as an audience member? You will likely have a list of brands or personalities that you engage with on social media, so why do you engage with them? What are they doing to attract your attention? These are key questions to ask when considering if your content is truly engaging to your audience.
Now the second issue is that engagement isn’t a one-way street. Think beyond the engagement on your posts. What you need to do is show your ideal client that you want to engage with them. People often forget that the most important word in social media is SOCIAL. So, if you’re on a platform like Instagram find your ideal client follow their accounts and then engage with them. Comment on their pictures, show them that you are interested in what they do and you’re interested in what they care about. If you’re a food producer, you might want to find people who are into cooking. There are plenty of foodie’s out there, showing pictures of this lovely bit of steak they’ve cooked, comment on it, engage with them, ask them questions about what they’re doing.
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Here is a link to a recent talk on social media marketing for farm diversification