From The Road: North American Farmers’ Direct Marketing Association 2015 Convention

During the 2015 North American Farmers’ Direct Marketing Association (NAFDMA) convention held in Nashville and Knoxville, TN, members enjoyed touring agritainment venues throughout the Volunteer State and attended two days of sessions last month. These sessions and workshops focused on employee management, finances, retail display tips, and more. But, above all, practical tips on increasing sales were a focus throughout the week — for example, appealing to all of your customers’ senses.

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“If you don’t have a bakery, we highly recommend you do. Smells add to the farm,” Barb Hall of Edwards Apple Orchard, Inc., in Poplar Grove, IL, says.

Hall led a session on retailing in a seasonal farm market. She offered tips on selling private-label food products such as limiting selection — pick the best products to sell, and above all, offer samples.

“Sampling is a must if you sell food. It’s a hassle and an expense, but it’s amazing the product you’ll sell when you sample,” she says.

Signs are important in the market, Hall says. She encouraged session attendees to indicate best-selling, organic, locally made products. Recipes also help to sell product.

While at stops such as Grandaddy’s Farm, Lucky Ladd Farms, The Apple Barn, Oakes Farm, Autumn Acres, Honeysuckle Hill Farm, and Gentry’s Farm, tour-goers assessed the operations’ staff, signs, parking lots, crowd dispersal, farm market displays, safety, and more. These comments were relayed back to the tour hosts to help improve their operations.

In between tour stops, buses were turned into mobile classrooms, where issues, needs, stumbling blocks, advice, and successes were discussed at length, all designed to give NAFDMA members the best advice from their peers.