Atypical Marketing Strategies To Consider For 2017

Everyone’s No. 1 marketing strategy should be to know your market. Even if you don’t care to admit it, your customer base is likely changing. Older customers are being replaced by Millennials, so you may be seeing a greater diversity among your customers.

Ask yourself: Are you still growing for the typical American family? Before you answer that, can you define what is typical?

One person who says things are becoming less typical is Dave Specca, a Rutgers colleague who has kept his family’s New Jersey farm going with a small pick-your-own (PYO) operation on the side. His father and grandfather were wholesale vegetable growers, but they always had some PYO customers looking for the Italian specialties his grandfather brought from the old country. Today, Specca Farm’s customers come from the northern and eastern Mediterranean region, though more folks from northern Africa and Caribbean countries are starting to show up, too.

Fearing getting too many pickers for his small plantings, Specca says he’s never advertised. However, these are very tight-knit communities, and word spreads fast regarding what crops are available. “If I have a good crop ready to pick, word quickly spreads through social media and the parking lot fills up fast,” he says.

The Millennial Factor
Getting back to the Millennials, knowing what they want is critical, and they want transparency. Don’t try to cover it up or “greenwash” it.

There’s no greenwashing at Wilson Farm in Lexington, MA. Fifteen miles from downtown Boston, an hour before their strawberry festival was scheduled to open, farm employees were directing the line of cars to the overflow parking lot, because the 105 spaces in the main lot were already full.

More intriguing than the crowd were the signs throughout the market describing the operation’s farming practices.

These practices, which can be found on the farm’s website, provide an account of the operation’s IPM program, and reassure customers that “chemical pesticides may be used, but only as a last resort, and only if absolutely necessary.” There’s also an open invitation to join a farm tour for “an inside peek behind the scenes at Wilson Farm.”

Led by Jim Wilson, these free adult walking tours are held on select Thursday evenings from June through August.

I called Wilson, curious if he ever got more than a handful of visitors. He told me he started these farm tours about 25 years ago, with groups averaging about 30 participants, mostly in response to feeling “that first wave of competition from chains. The plan was to promote that we actually grow the stuff we sell.”

The original intent for the tours was to help people understand how their food is grown. But as one of the biggest retail farm markets in the region, every time something hit the Boston Globe about pesticides, customers would call the farm.

Wilson said he would calmly tell the caller he was not going to solve all his or her concerns over the phone, and would invite the person to “come on down to the farm for a demo in the field.”

Over the years, Wilson says he has enjoyed showing people the amount of thought that goes into growing. He only recalls one or two people who couldn’t be won over.
“Most reasonable people are so blown away that they become lifelong customers,” he explained. “It’s so easy to demonstrate if you can take the time. We’re all busy, but it’s a very important part of customer relations.”

Social Responsibility Sells
Being transparent is a selling feature and so is being socially responsible, so tell your story. For example, talk about how your operation is cutting waste.

Despite my protests that there is more waste of fresh produce on the consumer side than on the farm, coming up with a way to convince shoppers that you’ve reduced waste on the farm with a catchy name for your produce that’s not top quality might induce them to buy. Remember, though, no greenwashing.

This also works well for the big guys. The Philadelphia Wholesale Produce Market will point out that they are the single largest donor of fresh produce to PhilAbundance, the local food relief agency. They also recently announced they are working to support the hurricane relief effort for Haiti, teaming up with a non-profit crowdfunding group to raise funds to build safe homes for displaced families.

These may not be the marketing strategies you are used to implementing, but they do get you noticed and can have a positive impact on your bottom line.

Topics: ,

Leave a Reply

Farm Management Stories
Florida Ag Hall of Famer William Cook
Citrus
May 23, 2017
Search is on For Next Crop of Florida Agriculture Hall of Famers
Nomination period now open for longtime industry honor. Read More
Online shopping graphic for GenNext Growers webcast
GenNext Growers
May 22, 2017
How to Make Dollars and Sense of Today’s Produce Marketplace Mayhem
Despite current challenges impacting the future of the North American fruit and vegetable industry, there are opportunities to be had. Read More
Citrus
May 20, 2017
Short on Water, Florida Growers Know How to Dig Down Deep
Through drought, smoke and brush fires, it’s plain to see you farmers have been doing your part to conserve and preserve one of our most precious resources. Read More
seattle port shipping
Citrus
May 20, 2017
USDA Creates Undersecretary for Trade
Reorganization puts trade, farm production as top priorities for the agency. Read More
Gary Reeder of West Coast Tomato/McClure Family Farms in Florida
GenNext Growers
May 18, 2017
Five Delegates to Represent U.S. at Youth Agriculture Summit
More than 1,000 applied as delegates to help tackle global food security challenge at international event. Read More
Apples & Pears
May 15, 2017
U.S. Apple Board Member Stresses Labor Reform At Senate Farm Bill Hearing
Michigan apple grower says agriculture’s future depends on Farm Bill funding. Read More
Burn ban sign posted along S.R. A1A in Flagler County, FL, due to drought conditions
Citrus
May 15, 2017
Drought Conditions Deepen Across Central Florida
Water Shortage Warning Order expanded to all counties within St. Johns River Water Management District. Read More
Farm Management
May 9, 2017
Promote Efficiency by Taking Advantage of These Tech Tools
From animal housing to tillage, USDA's NRCS has you covered. Read More
farm labor pic for web
Fruits
May 4, 2017
Senate Democrats Unveil New Ag Labor Plan
Feinstein, colleagues introduce legislation to shield farmworkers from deportation. Read More
Port Of Miami shipyard
Citrus
April 29, 2017
Florida Ag Commissioner Pushes for Probe into Unfair Trade Tactics
With a focus on Mexico, letter sent by Adam Putnam to the U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary stresses need for level playing field. Read More
Fruits
April 28, 2017
Don’t Miss the Ripple Effect of Ag Labor
When addressing the topic of ag labor, don’t ignore the ancillary benefits each agriculture job supports. Read More
Citrus
April 27, 2017
Trump Creates Agricultural Task Force
Panel to examine issues facing today’s growers including labor, food safety, and regulations. Read More
Citrus
April 26, 2017
Perdue Sworn in as Ag Secretary
USDA launches Twitter account to help promote the industry. Read More
Judi Whitson, 2016 Florida Woman of the Year in Agriculture
Citrus
April 24, 2017
Who Will Be Florida’s next Woman of the Year in Agriculture?
Nomination period now open for longstanding recognition from FDACS. Read More
GenNext Growers
April 22, 2017
Next Generation of Leaders Gets Yearlong Almond Immersion
Almond Leadership Program enters its ninth year with the 2017 class. Read More
The Latest
Farm Management
May 25, 2017
Plight of Trade Policy Grounding Many U.…
Much-needed investments in labor-saving technology could be key to long-term survival. Read More
Farm Management
May 25, 2017
Florida Farm Winning Case for Medicinal …
Judge rules in favor of 3 Boys Farm in the quest to expand its crop/business portfolio. Read More
Citrus
May 25, 2017
Are We Overstating the World’s Ove…
If growers can’t achieve a fair return on investment and stay in business, it won’t matter what the population is in 2050. We all will be trouble. Read More
Citrus
May 23, 2017
Search is on For Next Crop of Florida Ag…
Nomination period now open for longtime industry honor. Read More
Citrus
May 20, 2017
Short on Water, Florida Growers Know How…
Through drought, smoke and brush fires, it’s plain to see you farmers have been doing your part to conserve and preserve one of our most precious resources. Read More
Citrus
May 20, 2017
USDA Creates Undersecretary for Trade
Reorganization puts trade, farm production as top priorities for the agency. Read More
Citrus
May 15, 2017
Drought Conditions Deepen Across Central…
Water Shortage Warning Order expanded to all counties within St. Johns River Water Management District. Read More
Farm Management
May 9, 2017
Promote Efficiency by Taking Advantage o…
From animal housing to tillage, USDA's NRCS has you covered. Read More
Citrus
April 29, 2017
Florida Ag Commissioner Pushes for Probe…
With a focus on Mexico, letter sent by Adam Putnam to the U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary stresses need for level playing field. Read More
Citrus
April 27, 2017
Trump Creates Agricultural Task Force
Panel to examine issues facing today’s growers including labor, food safety, and regulations. Read More
Citrus
April 26, 2017
Perdue Sworn in as Ag Secretary
USDA launches Twitter account to help promote the industry. Read More
Citrus
April 24, 2017
Who Will Be Florida’s next Woman of the …
Nomination period now open for longstanding recognition from FDACS. Read More
Citrus
April 21, 2017
Alliance Stepping Up Efforts to Protect …
The Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance has kicked off its efforts to communicate to Congress its priority needs for the Read More
Citrus
April 18, 2017
Citrus Growth Path Uncertain as Florida …
According to the latest Lay of the Land Market Report, the waiting game for a solution to greening has tempered groves sales. Read More
Farm Management
April 18, 2017
Survey Says New York Growers Lost More t…
Growers say they suffered more than 50% crop losses in Western New York. Read More
Citrus
April 17, 2017
Florida Flush with Water Shortage Warnin…
Conservation practices preached throughout the state as exceptionally dry pattern persists.  Read More
Farm Management
April 12, 2017
How California’s No-Drought Status…
Find out which previous orders are rescinded as a result of the drought being declared over — and which ones are not. Read More
Farm Management
April 12, 2017
Take the Stress out of Food Safety Insp…
Buurma Farms has a low-tech, common sense system in place that keeps its produce as safe as possible, and makes passing inspections easy. Read More