In this blog, I want to give you a step-by-step guide on how you can create a farm marketing strategy for your farm business. Through this blog, I will take you through various questions and tools to help you to develop a farm marketing strategy. There is a free download available which takes you through these steps and allows you to complete the strategy for yourself. The download also includes a content ideas guide and content prompts to help you get started writing better marketing content for your farm business.
An ideal customer, also called Ideal Customer Avatar or ICA, 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 business a success.
It is unlikely that your diversification project is a completely new idea. The truth is there is now growing competition in many of the common diversification sectors such as glamping. Due to this is 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.
We often deal with farmers who view everyone as their customer and although we understand that view it is simply not effective when selling or marketing online. So, the next key, to a successful diversification project, is to consider who your ideal client is. Take time to develop your idea of them clearly.
How old are they? Do they have children? Where do they live? What are their hobbies or interests?
The answers to these questions will be different for every Agri-business and there is no wrong or right answers. Your answers might include men aged 30-40 living on the outskirts of Cardiff or they might be women in their 50’s living in the middle of Birmingham. But the key is to find the right ideal customer for you and your agri-business.
You may wish to do some competitor or market research to better establish who your ideal customer really is. If you are reading this blog alongside the free download, there is a section to write down and define who your ideal customer is.
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. Customer’s 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.
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 farm 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 next stage in developing any farm marketing strategy is to consider which marketing channels will be most effective for your business. So, firstly what do I mean by marketing channels, marketing channels simply refer to the method or platform you use to communicate marketing messages to your customers. This can include both offline and digital channels, some options could be:
As a farm business time and money are often limited so it is much more effective to choose a limited number of highly relevant channels rather than attempt to use every channel on offer. Some marketing channels may be useful for a limited time or as a one-off when launching a new product or running a specific offer. For example, trade shows and outdoor signage. For now, I am going to ignore these aspects of the farm marketing strategy as these will be much more specific to your business. Instead, I am going to focus on the regular consistent marketing channels, the ones you will use every month, week, or day.
When choosing your regular marketing channels you need to consider where your ideal customer is likely to be found and where they will be searching for your solution to their problem. I would normally recommend only using 3-5 regular marketing channels for most small-medium sized businesses.
As a rule of thumb, this should include 1 offline channel and no more than 2-3 social media platforms.
Once you have checked off all the above you are ready to start planning your marketing and creating a schedule of marketing tasks to do regularly.
Marketing for small businesses only works when you consistently target your ideal customer in an effective way. Sending out one Facebook ad campaign no matter how well-crafted is not going to lead to a reliable and quality income stream for your business. A good first step is to consider what task you need to complete when you can do them and how frequently.
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 if you find it easier to write content in blocks and then use a scheduling system to post the content that is fine too. The key is to be consistent and to find what works for you and your lifestyle.
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’ – 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 cant 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 farm marketing strategy rather than going through periods of all or nothing marketing.
How are you going to know if your marketing has been effective? To ensure your farm marketing strategy is truly useful you need to make sure you can review what was successful and what was not.
At this stage, you should look to set your marketing goals. These could be based on your wider business strategy for example relating to a number of sales or a revenue value you wish to achieve. Or you may wish to include goals that focus on factors such as brand reach or your follower count. Or you may even wish to include goals that are operation focused for example to ensure you have completed all the tasks consistently. Finally, you may wish to include goals that are personal to you such as being able to fund a holiday or reaching a level of achievement such as an award or similar.
The goals you choose are entirely up to you, but whatever you choose you should believe in them strongly and be able to see a tangible benefit to you personally and your business. You should also ensure your goals are SMART. This is a framework you may be familiar with as it is often used in college and university courses to analyse as a tool to teach students to create goals that can be measured and have a defined outcome.
SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound.
Success indicators are another review tool that should be included in your farm marketing strategy. These can be used as milestone checkpoints for your SMART goals or they can be used as a way to access your completion of a SMART goal. In otherwise they are the factors that tell you in black or white if you have achieved your SMART goal or not. These are particularly useful if you miss your goal for any reason as you can review which elements of your goal you achieved and which you didn’t.
Once you have decided what your key messages are, who your ideal customer is and what channels you are going to use to contact them you now need to decide what your marketing content is going to be.
It is all well and good having a really clear idea of your customer and a really well-planned marketing strategy but if you aren’t able to hit the mark with your marketing content then your whole strategy will fall apart. Many clients we deal with find it hard to know what to include in their marketing content, they struggle to write content and they often don’t know where to start when trying to create a new piece of content.
We are often asked how we come up with new content for clients all the time and where we get our ideas for. Many people seem to assume marketeers are simply highly imaginative and creative people who can pluck ideas from anywhere. The truth is although we may have additional creative and writing skills our ideas still must come from somewhere. So how do we do it?
Personally, I always start by gathering all the information I can on the various aspects of the business and its marketing strategy. I will often brainstorm ideas using a mind-map or similar but this aspect of idea planning is completely personal and you will, I am sure, all have your own ways of collecting and reviewing that information. But here are 5 places I go to for ideas: