Tips from experts on developing a marketing strategies
Consumers today are eager to know where their food comes from and how it is produced. The growing demand for local food products opens many doors for farmers looking for new markets for their goods. “Consumers want to know more about the farmer that is producing the food they eat,” Wesley Tucker, agricultural economist with the University of Missouri Extension, said. “This creates opportunities to market yourself to consumers.”
Develop a Marketing Plan
The first step toward an effective marketing strategy is developing a marketing plan. “I may be great at producing widgets, but if no one wants to buy my widgets I will go broke quickly,” Tucker added. “Developing a plan for how I will sell what I produce must be my first priority.”
Know the Market
Before starting production, farmers need to evaluate their targeted market. “One of the first things they need to do is to study the market that they intend to enter,” Jennifer Lutes, agricultural business specialist with the University of Missouri Extension, said.
For example, if farmers plan to sell their goods at a farmers market, then they should visit that venue, check out the products offered and analyze pricing. Collecting information will help producers determine if there is a significant profit margin for their product.
Tell the Farm’s Story
When producers share the story of their farm operation, they forge opportunities to expand their market. “Another big part of marketing is consumers like to feel connected to the farm that they have bought their products from,” Lutes stated. Farmers make those connections by telling the story of their operation.
For some farmers this may not come naturally, marketing isn’t always a farmers’ strong suit. However, agricultural business experts encourage farmers to step outside their comfort zones and teach consumers about their operations. “Farmers need to be prepared to tell their story and educate consumers about how they are good stewards of the land and animals under their control and are producing healthy products for them to eat,” Tucker explained.
In today’s social climate, the onus falls even more heavily on farmers to tell their own story. The average consumer is now generations away from having produced their own food.
“Unfortunately, what they “think” they know is not always true,” Tucker stated. “Their world view is shaped by what they have heard on social media or from friends, and the greatest challenge for the ag community is sometimes helping consumers realize that what they “think” they know simply isn’t true.”
Implement Effective Marketing Strategies
Farmers can utilize different forms of social media to share their stories and connect with consumers. “Provide updates on different stages and what is going on at the farm at different times and try to find a way to connect people back to the farm through storytelling,” Lutes suggested.
Other marketing strategies could be sharing through social media the ups and downs of planting or calving season, showing consumers how farm children are being raised with an appreciation for animals and land or offer sneak peeks into the farming operation. Whatever the case may be, farmers should be the ones telling their stories. “If we don’t tell our story, where will consumers get their information and how accurate will it be?” Tucker commented.
Agriculture business experts encourage farmers to work at the marketing piece of their operation. A well-planned marketing strategy can open many doors.
Tips for Farmers Planning to Sell Value-Added Meat
• Visit processors and find out what services they provide.
• Ensure the processor is an inspected facility. Meat that is resold has to be processed under inspection.
• Meat cannot be processed under customer exemption and then be resold.
• Work with the processor to develop farm meat labels and make sure those labels are approved through either the state or USDA, depending on how it is processed.
• Create a backup plan for what to do with undesirable cuts. That might include discounting or bundling the cuts that don’t sell quickly.
• If storing meat that was processed under inspection and meat that was processed under custom exemption, purchase separate
freezers. Meat that is processed under inspection and resold, cannot be stored in the same freezer as custom exempt meat used for personal consumption.
• Choose clear, vacuumed sealed packaging. Consumers tend to buy product they can see.