How To Plan Successful Marketing Strategies

Richard VanVranken

In late November 2011, American Vegetable Grower asked readers of their E-newsletter to describe their marketing plan. Only 13% to 15% responded that they were satisfied that they had a strong marketing plan.

A third of respondents said “Looking to improve” while more than 20% indicated their marketing plans were “non-existent.”

A slightly different question ran in one of AVG’s sister publications: How would you describe your company’s marketing strategy? Still, only 15% answered “Good” and another 30% said “Average” leaving a majority (55%) rating their marketing strategies as “Poor.”

Hmmm…looks like we’ve got some work to do! Having no plan is still a plan, but that’s scary because you are settling to be a price taker, not a price maker. That can be the difference between success or failure, or in today’s terms — sustainability and unsustainability.

Marketing Plan Should Come First

You can find business and market planning guides and templates of all sorts online, through your state Extension systems, and likely from your farm lenders. (USDA’s Risk Management Agency has a good set of useful business and market planning tools available at Farm-Risk-Plans.rma.usda.gov.)

Like most planning tools available though, you’ll find the marketing plan (and separate market analysis) included as a subcategory along with mission statements, goals/objectives, and financial statements within the overall business plan.

I contend that the marketing plan should be step Number 1. It’s hard to fathom how a business plan mission statement and objectives or goals can be written before identifying who might buy what product you can grow. Sure, you can develop a list of goals that include something like “sustainably producing a safe, quality crop with minimal impact using Good Agricultural Practices and meeting Third Party Audit standards.”

However, if you’re planning to sell truckloads of bulk sweet corn to a processor, your objectives and methods of producing that safe product, even your mission statement, will be different than if you plan to sell by the dozen off the back of your pick-up truck at the local community farmers’ market, or even fresh to the wholesale market. Start with the marketing plan and the answers to the rest of the business plan will already be identified.

Ironically, I am writing this the week after the Super Bowl. Getting almost as much hype and analysis as the game itself are all the advertisements that have become part of the annual show. Unfortunately, most people start discussing advertising and promotion when asked about their marketing plans, but these are only the strategies or tools available to implement a plan.

Plan, Options, Strategies

Your marketing plan is the map that will identify your potential customers and what products you might sell them. Once that is known, they will determine how to grow, at what stage to harvest, how to package, as well as where and when you’ll make the sales transaction.

The how, when, and where then become your marketing options. Will you wholesale directly to chains, through brokers/buyer-shippers, at an auction, or will you be selling to a processor? Alternatively, have you identified individual consumers as your buyers that you would like to reach directly through a retail outlet? Lots more options there too — roadside stand, community farmers’ markets, CSAs, home delivery, Internet, and mail order.

And yes, now I’m getting to advertising, one of the marketing strategies you will use to communicate with those customers you identified in your marketing plan. Traditional media advertising – print, radio, TV — certainly are still important tools, though, again depending who you’ve identified as your potential customers, the cost-benefit must be carefully analyzed before purchasing.

Marketing strategies may be as simple as personal phone calls to keep buyers aware of crop status, or newsletters, blogging, or a full website. Merchandising tools that portray your image like signs, packaging, displays, etc., or in the wholesale market your brand and implementation of GAPs, passing third-party audits or your scores on a sustainability matrix, are all marketing strategies that can be used to support your marketing plan.
As they say, “We don’t plan to fail; we fail to plan.” Don’t let a
“nonexistent” marketing plan guide your business.                                 

Leave a Reply

Featured Stories
SFWMD Big Cypress Basin pump station following Irma
Citrus
September 22, 2017
Water Management Concerns Flowing in Florida After Irma
Efforts mounted and executed to move gallons by the ton to protect property. Read More
Citrus display survey
Varieties & Rootstocks
September 22, 2017
Take Time to Survey the Latest Florida Citrus Varieties
The calendar is full of display day opportunities to learn, see, and do. Read More
Apples & Pears
September 22, 2017
Media Reflects Modern Society [Opinion]
Little about fruit growing — or any agriculture — appears because too few of us are willing to illuminate the media. Read More
Handfuls of Florida hops
Citrus
September 22, 2017
When it Comes to Growing, Florida Farmers Never Say Never
Let's raise a toast to the bold producers and researchers who are taking our industry beyond previously perceived crop viability boundaries to places once figured forbidden. Read More
Citrus
September 21, 2017
Hurricane Relief Fund Launched for Florida Farmworkers
Money raised will benefit Redlands Christian Migrant Association’s efforts to aid families in need. Read More
Paul and Derek Orsenigo
GenNext Growers
September 21, 2017
Advice for Taking Over the Family Farm
If you are considering joining and running your family business, here are some tips to ensure success. Read More
Picking fresh Florida blueberries
Berries
September 21, 2017
Ways Florida Blueberry Growers Can Elevate Their Message
Promotional efforts seek to harness power that drives the Sunshine State's ‘little blue dynamos.’ Read More
Inside the Horticulture field tour wagon at the 2016 Florida Ag Expo
Florida Ag Expo
September 21, 2017
Everything You Need to Know About the 2017 Florida Ag Expo
More education choices, flexible field tours, and networking opportunities to provide an enhanced attendee experience. Read More
Whiteflies on a leaf
Insect Control
September 20, 2017
Whitefly Troubles Go From Bad to Worse in Florida
Growers should have a plan for managing the pest from beginning to end of season. Read More
Grower Achievement Award
September 20, 2017
Ask Yourself: What Can I Do to Make Things Better?
Alan Jones, this year's recipient of American Vegetable Grower magazine's Grower Achievement Award, invites all growers to do what he does: Look in the mirror and ask," What can I do to make a positive impact on our industry?" Read More
Bacterial wilt symptoms on blueberry leaves
Berries
September 20, 2017
Getting to the Bottom of Bacterial Wilt in Blueberries
Prolific plant pathogen now presenting a new challenge for Florida producers and researchers. Read More
Citrus
September 19, 2017
Precision in Specialty Crops Gains Momentum
Here are some of the key drivers that may transform your farm in the years ahead. Read More
Fruits
September 19, 2017
EPA Mulls Restricting Dicamba Use
Proposal is a part of agency’s focus on reducing herbicide injury in vulnerable crops. Read More
Fruits
September 19, 2017
Washington State University Creates BMSB Management Resource Page
As populations grow in the state, university offers growers pest management advice. Read More
Berries
September 19, 2017
UC Davis Strawberry Lawuit Settled
Former university breeders to return any crosses that used unpatented varieties and agree the school owns rights to them. Read More
The Latest
Citrus
September 22, 2017
Water Management Concerns Flowing in Flo…
Efforts mounted and executed to move gallons by the ton to protect property. Read More
Varieties & Rootstocks
September 22, 2017
Take Time to Survey the Latest Florida C…
The calendar is full of display day opportunities to learn, see, and do. Read More
Apples & Pears
September 22, 2017
Media Reflects Modern Society [Opinion]
Little about fruit growing — or any agriculture — appears because too few of us are willing to illuminate the media. Read More
Citrus
September 22, 2017
When it Comes to Growing, Florida Farmer…
Let's raise a toast to the bold producers and researchers who are taking our industry beyond previously perceived crop viability boundaries to places once figured forbidden. Read More
Citrus
September 21, 2017
Hurricane Relief Fund Launched for Flori…
Money raised will benefit Redlands Christian Migrant Association’s efforts to aid families in need. Read More
GenNext Growers
September 21, 2017
Advice for Taking Over the Family Farm
If you are considering joining and running your family business, here are some tips to ensure success. Read More
Berries
September 21, 2017
Ways Florida Blueberry Growers Can Eleva…
Promotional efforts seek to harness power that drives the Sunshine State's ‘little blue dynamos.’ Read More
Florida Ag Expo
September 21, 2017
Everything You Need to Know About the 20…
More education choices, flexible field tours, and networking opportunities to provide an enhanced attendee experience. Read More
Insect Control
September 20, 2017
Whitefly Troubles Go From Bad to Worse i…
Growers should have a plan for managing the pest from beginning to end of season. Read More
Grower Achievement Award
September 20, 2017
Ask Yourself: What Can I Do to Make Thin…
Alan Jones, this year's recipient of American Vegetable Grower magazine's Grower Achievement Award, invites all growers to do what he does: Look in the mirror and ask," What can I do to make a positive impact on our industry?" Read More
Berries
September 20, 2017
Getting to the Bottom of Bacterial Wilt …
Prolific plant pathogen now presenting a new challenge for Florida producers and researchers. Read More
Citrus
September 19, 2017
Precision in Specialty Crops Gains Momen…
Here are some of the key drivers that may transform your farm in the years ahead. Read More
Fruits
September 19, 2017
EPA Mulls Restricting Dicamba Use
Proposal is a part of agency’s focus on reducing herbicide injury in vulnerable crops. Read More
Fruits
September 19, 2017
Washington State University Creates BMSB…
As populations grow in the state, university offers growers pest management advice. Read More
Berries
September 19, 2017
UC Davis Strawberry Lawuit Settled
Former university breeders to return any crosses that used unpatented varieties and agree the school owns rights to them. Read More
Citrus
September 19, 2017
Hopes High for Hops Fresh From Florida
When it comes to alternative crop solutions, something good is brewing in the Sunshine State. Do you have what it takes to tap in? Read More
Apples & Pears
September 16, 2017
Researcher Finds Bacteria Can Stop Blue …
The natural bacterium found in soil can survive in cold storage; this promising biocontrol offers an alternative to chemical treatments. Read More
Disease Control
September 15, 2017
Scientist Uncovers Chilling Side of Dead…
Lab tests indicate laurel wilt pathogen grows faster in the fall and winter. Read More