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
the sunset on a hot day
Citrus
January 18, 2017
NASA, NOAA Concur 2016 Was World’s Warmest Year on Record
For the third time in three years, the bar is raised on surface temperature statistics. Read More
GenNext Growers
January 18, 2017
$858,000 in Grants to Encourage Careers in Agriculture Science
Funding to invest in programs that educate, promote science in the classroom. Read More
cash money in hand
GenNext Growers
January 17, 2017
9 Financial Resolutions to Boost Your Farm’s Bottom Line
If a goal for the new year includes increasing profitability, there are ways you can better manage your business. Read More
agriculture data graphic
Farm Management
January 17, 2017
Will Big Data Yield Big Returns for Farmers?
Modern tools of hort tech are ripe to inspire the next generation of productivity and profitability. Read More
Mobile technology farming
Citrus
January 17, 2017
The Future of Agriculture is in Your Hands — Literally [Opinion]
Can farmers actually reach the point of having too much information? Read More
Case IH autonomus tractor
Equipment
January 17, 2017
Agricultural Robots No Longer Science Fiction
New automated technologies could help specialty crop growers deal with labor crisis. Read More
Example of how farmers can use iPads to track data around his operation
Citrus
January 16, 2017
Precision Agriculture and Big Data Gaining Traction Fast
Specialty crop adoption of hort tech to usher in new efficiencies and transparency. Read More
The Latest
Citrus
January 20, 2017
Farming Will Always Have a Place in Flor…
Growers are resilient and agriculture will survive in our state and elsewhere. It has to, if we want food on our plates. Read More
Citrus
January 19, 2017
Trump Taps Sonny Perdue for Secretary of…
Ag leaders applaud pick to head up USDA. Read More
Citrus
January 18, 2017
NASA, NOAA Concur 2016 Was World’s Warme…
For the third time in three years, the bar is raised on surface temperature statistics. Read More
Farm Management
January 17, 2017
Will Big Data Yield Big Returns for Farm…
Modern tools of hort tech are ripe to inspire the next generation of productivity and profitability. Read More
Citrus
January 17, 2017
The Future of Agriculture is in Your Han…
Can farmers actually reach the point of having too much information? Read More
Equipment
January 17, 2017
Agricultural Robots No Longer Science Fi…
New automated technologies could help specialty crop growers deal with labor crisis. Read More
Citrus
January 16, 2017
Precision Agriculture and Big Data Gaini…
Specialty crop adoption of hort tech to usher in new efficiencies and transparency. Read More
Citrus
January 13, 2017
Vilsack Bids Fond Farewell in Early Exit…
With no clear-cut replacement in sight, U.S. agriculture secretary leaves one week before his term officially ends. Read More
Farm Management
January 11, 2017
Where Do Vegetable Growers Find Labor?
Only 14% of vegetable growers use the H-2A program as a source of labor, according to American Vegetable Grower's 2017 State of the Vegetable Industry Survey. So where is the industry finding its labor? Read More
Citrus
January 10, 2017
Was 2016 the Worst Weather Year Ever?
Near all-time records in average temperature and costly climate-related disasters make a strong case for dubious distinction. Read More
Farm Management
January 10, 2017
FSMA Training Available in Colorado
To be in compliance with the FDA’s Preventive Controls for Human Food rule, be sure farm personnel completes the required training. Read More
Farm Management
January 9, 2017
Fruit and Vegetable Sector Scores Winter…
15th annual Southeast Fruit & Vegetable Conference serves as port in the storm for growers, researchers, and industry vendors seeking to buy, sell, and learn. Read More
Farm Management
January 9, 2017
Reaping Rewards is Part of the Journey […
It's time for a new editor to experience the rewards of the journey to help you become a better and more successful vegetable grower. Read More
Farm Management
January 4, 2017
The Disappearing Workforce: Vegetable Gr…
The No. 1 issue for vegetable growers isn’t pests, food safety, or even weather. It’s a lack of labor. Read More
Farm Management
January 4, 2017
How Politics Will Impact Vegetable Growe…
Vegetable growers face an uncomfortable set of truths: Government regulations can make life difficult for food producers. Regulations often stem Read More
Farm Management
January 4, 2017
California Snowpack Below Average –…
The January 3 measurement was disheartening, but a big, fat blanket of snow fell during the following week, and the state’s biggest reservoirs have levels well above average. Read More
Citrus
December 29, 2016
Are Today’s Agriculture Regulation…
Donald Trump has been clear that he is no fan of burdensome rules that stifle productivity. Read More
Citrus
December 23, 2016
How Farming’s Deep Roots Can Inspi…
I tell my friends I have the best job around. Why? Because of this industry and the people who work in it. Read More