SPEAKER 1: I always have marketing in mind whenever I do anything regarding the farm.
SPEAKER 2: What I've learned about marketing is that number one, it is not as easy as you think it is.
SPEAKER 3: Because I could grow $100,000 worth of a certain floral product, but unless I have a market for that, it does me absolutely no good. It sits out in the field and rots. So you have to be aware, it's not just growing it. It's selling it that's very important.
SPEAKER 4: I remember talking to some farmers in Wisconsin before I came here about their farms. And they were amazed at how much of their time they spent on marketing.
SPEAKER 5: Being able to deliver. And I don't mean deliver in terms of driving a truck to the store, I mean in terms of consistency and availability.
SPEAKER 2: I've heard people say, well, if you open your door, people will come. Well, it's not true.
SPEAKER 1: My goal is to sell everything we grow. That's basically my goal. So if that's the goal, then you have to get out there and beat the bushes to create markets if they don't come to you so that you can succeed. The venues that we use to market are our goods are the farm stand, which is right here at the farm.
SPEAKER 6: 80% through our farm market at home.
SPEAKER 7: I love wholesaling.
SPEAKER 1: A local farmer's market.
SPEAKER 4: Working with restaurants.
SPEAKER 6: U-pick.
SPEAKER 1: Retail markets.
SPEAKER 4: CSAs. People are really excited about buying a share in a farm.
SPEAKER 1: Special orders.
SPEAKER 7: You don't know what markets are right for you until you do it.
SPEAKER 8: Being a professional physician, I had contact to a lot of people. And actually, the first year we raised a hundred birds. And I ended up giving one or two birds to about 50 different people as a loss leader. And I said here, try this. This is something I'm considering. Let me know if you like it and if you're interested in my doing this for you. And actually, the response was overwhelming. We went from 100 birds the first year to, I think, 400 birds the second year. And those were pretty much 90% presold.
SPEAKER 5: We use the farmers market as a test market, I think, in a lot of ways. That's where we started the yogurt. And that's where we're starting the cheese. It's a great way to get feedback from people about the product. And it's a great way to examine the pricing on the product too.
SPEAKER 9: We assessed certain items, such as what's the population centers around, was it feasible to travel to the different markets. And that had a big part to play as far as steering us.
SPEAKER 5: We would actually go in a store and count up the number of quarts of yogurt that were sitting on that shelf and say, how much percentage of those customers could be ours?
SPEAKER 6: Our business has built up over time, basically by word of mouth, by having good fruit, and having a place that's easy for people to walk in for picking fruit.
SPEAKER 8: The majority of my customers are from word of mouth and from neighbors, work associates, just people that I knew in my previous career.
SPEAKER 1: Making cold calls. I mean, a lot of farmers feel like word of mouth should bring people to them, but I feel like you have to get out there and create your market and just be the person to initiate the contacts. I think publicity is very important.
SPEAKER 5: They have the hats, and we have the shirts, and we try to use them when we're out doing tastings, when we're at the farmers market.
SPEAKER 10: I have found, believe it or not, that the pennysavers and the shoppers do quite well.
SPEAKER 6: Those cheapo little shoppers that come out every week. And that's where we've gone to for our bread and butter. It's $5 a week or $6 a week to get in the shopper. And that goes to a lot of people.
SPEAKER 2: Road signage, I would say, would be the one top priority. If you don't have a sign, people don't know you exist.
SPEAKER 6: Where we know we can make big headway is in some sort of website.
SPEAKER 1: I use email to communicate with my CSA customers. I have a clipboard at the stand where anyone who's interested can sign up, give me their email address, and get information about pastured pork, farm tours, CSA, and/or what's in season at the farm.
SPEAKER 5: We have a brochure. And we always try to get these little shelf talkers up on the shelves where our product is sold, just trying to get our story out in any way that we can.
SPEAKER 6: What we try to do is somehow finagle some free features. We've done that by being there when they've needed us. Because like if a crisis happens, our local media calls us to get my side of the story, because they look at me as kind of an expert. So I always has an open door.
SPEAKER 1: The local television station has come and done a story on us. So we've gotten a lot of press. And people recognize our name now. And they'll come up and say, you I saw your advertisement on television, or I've read your advertisements in the paper. Well, we've actually done very little paid advertising, if any. They perceive our free publicity as advertisements. And it's really built a certain recognition in people's minds, even if they've never been here or bought our product.
SPEAKER 10: Using your local sites as an advertising tool to get people in from a longer distance really helps, so that people will make that day trip and see other sites while they're here.
SPEAKER 6: We have a lot of tours. And that's brought us a lot of local business, because we probably have 1,000 schoolkids a year come up.
SPEAKER 10: I do usually get three or four different garden clubs a year who will schedule ahead and come out. When people see things growing in their natural habitats and doing well, let's just say their plant list goes from 2 to 10 in a hurry without any pushing. They just see things as they like them. So that really makes a big difference.
SPEAKER 2: It takes time. It takes all media things to get people to know that you are really in existence.
SPEAKER 3: Give your customers your absolute best.
SPEAKER 9: To sell it to someone else, you have to believe in what you're selling.
SPEAKER 6: You really want to give people what they want, not what you think they should want.
SPEAKER 1: They let us know what's working, what isn't working, what they want more of, what they want less of.
SPEAKER 11: Ask the customer. Why are they looking is something that I'm always curious about. What do you look that is not available in the market?
SPEAKER 2: You really have to like people. And I love the reaction of people to the wines, whether it's positive or negative. I have a lot of fun with people when they come to the winery.
SPEAKER 9: It takes a good attitude, a friendly atmosphere.
SPEAKER 11: The personal relationship that you develop with a regular customer, they actually know you and ask you questions.
SPEAKER 10: And the role of education in sales is huge. I get a lot of people who come who have successfully for the first time planted gardens and had them come back and survived. They've tried in the past buying them at Wal-Mart and Lowe's and other nurseries where people don't take the time. They're just there to move plants. And people really appreciate that knowledge and that experience.
SPEAKER 9: It's nice that they can see the face of the farmer and ask the questions.
SPEAKER 11: I learn and they feel more connected with you, because you have interesting things that they may appreciate to find in the market one day.
SPEAKER 9: So it's that face to face that makes a difference.
SPEAKER 10: They're successful, the next year they're bringing in their sister, their mom, their best friends. I'll have carloads of friends come in together so that they can learn how to grow and how to do. And they come back and back and back, because they know they're getting the straight talk.
SPEAKER 5: Right now there's a real interest in local foods. And we marketed ourselves as being a local food, a fresh food, a unique product, an high-quality product and really getting that message across about our integrity as a product and as producers.
SPEAKER 1: The way we increase the value of our product is the only thing we sell are things we grow here. We don't import anything. So if we don't happen to have corn ready, we don't buy it from the local producer. We don't have corn. We only have things we grow here. And that's part of our trademark.
SPEAKER 6: When you come here, you're going to get really good fruit. And it's going to be easy to get to. It's going to be predictable when you get here. It's not going to be junky. It's going to be clean. We're going to tell you what we have, and that's what we have. That's how we've built our business, because people go away and they have product that they really, really like. And so they tell their neighbor.
SPEAKER 5: I think that when you have a passion about something and when you have a connection to what you're doing, people really pick up on that. They really can see the genuineness in a farmer bringing their product to market.
SPEAKER 8: I think transparency is real important. That's what differentiates me and people that do this type of farming from the commercial industry. There's no way I can compete on price, so I have to compete with them in other aspects.
SPEAKER 12: We saw that opportunity to be less commodity-driven. Don't be all about price. Put together a whole package of high quality, community-based, safe to eat.
SPEAKER 8: That's why customers that come to me, they're paying top dollar for the product. They can get poultry or turkeys a lot cheaper at our local grocery store, but they don't know the producer. They don't know how the animal was raised. And they can't visit the operation. It's biosecurity to the max.
SPEAKER 12: The niche market, local food movement has really come in place with us. So timing was a big key.
SPEAKER 11: It's a specialty market niche that you can make work in your favor.
SPEAKER 12: How we promote our brand is a number of different ways. We first sell our farm, Lucki 7 Livestock Company and the quality and the certified natural approaches, that management that we use.
SPEAKER 1: We were planning to grow our products organically anyway, because that's our philosophy. But it was actually my partner David who insisted that we should become certified because of the value added quality of that in the marketplace.
SPEAKER 11: I knew that I wanted to be organic, or let's say no chemical-based or synthetic fertilizer-based farming from the very beginning. I knew that that was what the future was asking for.
SPEAKER 12: This wave that we're on will be a long-sustaining wave as long as honesty and transparency and quality all stay on the forefront of what we're doing.
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Farmers discuss the importance of marketing your farm, including: marketing venues, getting the word out, customer relations and how to set yourself apart from the rest.
In the Voices of Experience series from the Beginning Farmers Resource Center, you'll find the kind of dirt-under-the-fingernails advice that can only come from someone who's been there.
The NY Beginning Farmer Project is led by a team of Cornell Cooperative Extension Educators in partnership with the Cornell Small Farms Program. The project, launched in 2006 in response to increasing interest in farm start-ups, aims to enhance the likelihood of success of new ag enterprises by making the best resources and training available to new and diversifying farmers.