How Do You Market a Farm? (Part 1)

If you want to market a farm, congratulations!

You are the backbone of our food supply and we are glad you are here.

In this article we are going to lay out some useful strategies specifically focused on answering this important question, “How do you market a farm?”

You market a farm by adhering to the rules of marketing. Here are five core steps to market a farm: 

  1. Define your Customer Value Proposition 
  2. Clearly define your target market 
  3. Clearly define the value you provide to this target market 
  4. Develop your marketing mix 
  5. Track and measure your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

You see, just like marketing any business, marketing a farm is simple, but not easy. 

  • This is the first article in a 3-part series of helpful articles focused on more completely helping you to answer this important question of “How do you market a farm?”.
  • In the 2nd article in this series we focus on “Who is the target market for a farm?”. 
  • And in the 3rd article we develop the marketing mix in “What is a farm marketing plan?”.

Now, with that, when you start at the basics of marketing and you stack your value propositions on top, you will have a much easier time of achieving success.

But in order to achieve success, we have to first define what success in marketing a farm means.

So, the main objective of marketing a farm is two-fold:

  1. To gain a customer, and 
  2. To keep a customer.

Everything outside of this definition is excess and unnecessary. 

As we get started, one more very important tool to implement on an annual SWOT analysis. This will help your organization identify and maintain awareness of your farm's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/8K3K1PGuImQ

So, with that, let’s get to work and discover how to market a farm!

5 Steps to Market a Farm

1. Define your Customer Value Proposition to market a farm

The first step to realize when marketing a farm is that the act of “marketing” does not exist in a vacuum. That is, while marketing is crucial to your farm, it's not the whole picture.

While this step usually isn’t under the control of the Marketing Manager, since we are addressing this important topic of marketing a farm, we may as well start under the best possible case scenario. 

If your farm already has this step under control, just take this information in for future projects and make mental notes, and move on to step #2 below. This important step can be another skill stack for your future marketing projects (it can definitely be done, but it's very difficult and arduous to change a business model and the culture behind it -- See Kotter’s 8 Step Model for Change).

With that said, here is step #1 in marketing a farm, given the ideal scenario and starting from scratch:

The first and most important step in marketing your business, in this case a farm, is to define your customer value proposition

This is the core of your fundamental business model. This decision will affect literally all of your business decisions, let alone your marketing decisions, such as how you hire staff, how you empower your managers to make decisions, how much inventory you carry, how many different products and services you carry, how you interact with customers and how your website is laid and organized, among a long list of other items.

The good news here is that there are only three choices:

  1. Customer Value Proposition: Operational Excellence 
  2. Customer Value Proposition: Product Leadership 
  3. Customer Value Proposition: Customer Intimacy

Now, the main goal is to choose 1 of these three value propositions and go all in on the one and become the best at that one value proposition in your marketplace. The other two value propositions must simply meet customer expectations.

For example, if you decide that your farm is going to be the best at Product Leadership, then this is your fundamental Customer Value Proposition.  This brings very specific strategies, and just as importantly, it means there are many things you do not do. 

As a Product Leadership value proposition, this means you will:

  • Deliver a carefully chosen product(s) to the marketplace based on positioning your product as the best choice available to customers (think iPod, iPad, iPhone, iMac)
  • Your price point will reflect the premium marketing positioning (again, think of Apple)
  • Your research & development (R&D) is the best in the market (think science)
  • You have hired or teamed up with the best [niche] farmers and agriculture departments in the market (think local university)
  • Your sales channels have plenty of materials to promote your market positioning
  • With a solid Product Leadership positioning, this also means you will not be a low price leader like an Operational Excellence model. Also, your product catalog will fit a narrow product mix and you will not be changing your products to fit the needs of the customer as a Customer intimacy model would do.

With that, your marketing department has something to go on and can start to market a farm by clearly defining your target market. 

2. Clearly define your target market

Either you have a customer base or you don't. Either way, at this phase is where we do market research.

If you don’t have a customer base, do your research and get a basic understanding of your ideal customer demographics and psychographics. Start here

If you have a base of customers, learn to survey them here and find out how to create promotions to attract more great customers like them.

3. Clearly define the value you provide to this target market with a unique selling proposition

As a business owner or a marketer, having direct competitors is a standard situation. 

So, how do you let your customers and potential clients know that what you’re selling is different? 

The simple answer is to create a unique selling proposition (USP).

A unique selling proposition (USP) is written to clearly answer this question for the customer, “Why should I choose to do business with you vs every other available option?” A USP is usually less than 15-20 words and specifically addresses the needs of your target audience.

A unique selling proposition is a company’s statement that separates your business from the competition. This USP conveys a quality or price that a business offers better than others in the industry. It could be speaking about your A1 customer service or sustainable practices.

Focus on the customer value and not the product/service.

While your offerings influence your customer base, your USP should pay more attention to customer value. Think about how a client’s purchase changes their life. For instance, the buying process of a vehicle can be tiresome, considering all the factors that come to play, from price to purpose. A strong USP reassures the customer that the process was worth it when they stop at and stare at their new car on the driveway.

4. Develop your Marketing Mix

The marketing mix is an important foundation in marketing. 

What is the marketing mix and why is it important?

Once you have your target market identified, your next job is to decide upon the marketing mix. Also known as “the 4 P’s of marketing”, the marketing mix is no different than a recipe. Each ingredient is an important part of the marketing plan and is composed of these 4 elements:

  1. Product
  2. Promotion
  3. Price
  4. Place

Each of these simple ingredients is necessary to complete your marketing plan. But without a clear picture of who your ideal customer is, and the value you bring to the customer, your marketing mix will be off to a rocky start.

This is your formula.

If one is off the mark, your chances for success severely decline. If more than one is off the mark, your chances for success are virtually none.

But when all four ingredients in the marketing mix are on target, sales success can be yours. We will be doing a deep dive into the farm marketing mix in article 3 of this series.

Your job as a marketing professional is to continually tweak and adjust based on data driven marketing strategies, always looking for ways to improve conversions, boost sales, get more from your advertising, generate more customers from your marketing spend, and above all: keep more customers doing more business with you longer.

5. Track and measure your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

What are the most important KPIs for marketing?

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) in marketing are the most important items that are driving the success of the company. Typical KPIs include: Number of new customers gained, Cost per sale (CPS), Cost per lead (CPL), Return on advertising investment (ROAI), Number of units sold, Total sales revenue gained.

Think of the numbers that a veteran accountant would be most interested in. Accountants don't give a rip about YouTube views, retargeting audience, Twitter follows or advertising impressions. While important, none of these directly affect sales.

The accountant most cares about what goes in and out of the checking account and how they can expect to make some reasonable predictions about future cash flow.  This is why the marketing pro works with the accountant, because the marketing pro has a pulse on how well the sales department converts and how advertising campaigns produce.

Ok, let’s now move on to Phase 2 in this series of “How do you market a farm” where we focus on “Who is the target market for a farm?” and then in Phase 3 where we develop a farm marketing plan in “What is a farm marketing plan?”.

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