Is your farm market ready for the start of the season?
Christie Welch, Program Director of Direct Agriculture Marketing with Ohio State University (OSU), and Rob Leeds, an Educator with OSU Extension, offer some tips to start off on the right foot.
“Before the season begins, it’s crucial to have a marketing plan in place,” Leeds says. “Having your social media calendar, the topics you want to talk about, and your pictures ready to go [is important]. Most consumers know how they interact with businesses to start with, rather it’s social media platforms or our website. Put in a little effort to make sure you have effective messages on those platforms.”
Monitoring social media can help determine which photos and marketing campaigns are successful, too.
Before opening, plan to take notes on your operation throughout the season. This could be every day or whenever you see that change or update to your farm market is needed. Make note of what you’d change for the next season. These notes will help develop a tool to track your operation’s performance during the current season and following one.
“We take notes at the end of every day about what went right and what went wrong, what was the weather like, etc.,” Leeds says of the farm market, he and his wife operate. “Once again, this is a great way for social media to help [track performance].”
Signage is another important strategy to incorporate in your farm market. This simple update is important to keep customers engaged in your market.
“We tend to forget that they [signs] can get worn or outdated,” Welch says.
When trying to discover ways to find the right placement s for your signs, keep in mind how your signs could attract more customers. How will customers know to come back to your operation throughout the season or will know when sweet corn will be ready?
“Have a sign at your farm market that says, ‘Come Back Next Week. Our Sweet Corn Will Be Ready!’” Welsh suggests. “Certainly, social media and your website can help with that, too.
Another update, such as asking a friend to critique your farm market can influence your future customers’ experience.
“Get a peer, ask one of your customers or a friend to take a walk through your farm market from the time you pull in the parking lot, enter the doors, walk around the market and get their impression,” Welch says.
Welch suggests it’s easy to overlook something you walk past every day. That’s why it’s great to have someone you trust to look over your operation to “make sure it’s not getting tired looking and that it is still reflecting the brand you want your customers to interact with.”
Small details, such as proper employee training and encouraging them to greet your customers, can make your farm market a success.
“Employee training is something we don’t do enough. We like to think, as farmers, that we are the face of the organization. But, the face of the farm market is really the employee that greets a person when they come up to the counter,” Leeds says.
Don’t forget something as simple as building customer relationships, too, which can be both beneficial for your operation and to your customers.
Updating your farm market before the season begins could make your operation more successful. Keeping this in mind when preparing for the season can not only help develop relationships but gain customer loyalty.
“It’s really about the whole experience. And so to think about how you can interact more easily and readily with your customers to help them have that great experience as opposed to feeling like they went to a big box grocery store,” Welch says.