By Hannah Moser of Forager Farm
I’ve always viewed marketing as telling a story and there’s no better story to tell than the one of growing food and community. I feel a bit biased discussing marketing in farming. Before I decided to be a farmer, I was a marketer. I have a degree in Public Relations and Advertising and have done a lot of self-teaching on graphic design and web design.
Therefore, I knew from the beginning that we’d have to create a feeling of community via social media networks, blogging and email. It was a struggle to understand what exactly would draw people in. Ultimately, we went with approaches that would interest us if we were on the other side.
We discussed for months how exactly we wanted the CSA set up, the price points, how much we could grow for the money asked, etc. Once we decided on that, we knew we needed to create a brand that embodied all things Forager Farm.
Our main forms of advertising are social media, specifically Facebook and Instagram, word of mouth through family and friends, and printed materials we hung up at local businesses around the towns we deliver to.
We also tried participating in a few local expo booths to really get in front of people. We thought if we could just talk to people in person about our mission, we could sell them on becoming members of our CSA. We managed to get a few signups but now, months later I think it’s a great thing to do as a beginning farm, but probably not completely worth it in later years. At that point it’s more about maintaining your quality of product and keeping your current customers or members happy enough to stick around, year after year.
As part of that signup form we asked, “How did you hear about us?” It’s one of the most useful things we’ve done in the sales and marketing department thus far. It’s helped us realize what works and what doesn’t. It was interesting to see that several of our members signed up after seeing our poster hanging at a local coffee shop, even though many say, “print is dead” or “digital is best.”
Marketing a direct to consumer product requires a lot of trial and error. Being able to share our brand and mission through photos has been a great asset. Instagram has helped us reach a broader set of people. This may not help immediate sales, but the long-term impact of an online community has loads of potential.
But keeping local roots in your online community is where most sales stem from. Aside from word of mouth, the majority of our sales came from our Facebook presence. We opened our Facebook page up at the beginning of the year and started to really push the idea of a CSA and all that it can offer. It’s such a new concept to this area, so we knew there would be a bit of education involved before sales started rolling in. We designed promotional graphics to encourage “newbies” to give it a try and offer a few discounts too.
We were also fortunate enough to be featured in a number of local publications. We reached out to the few connections we had in the local media, but our social media presence caught the eye of a few local reporters as well. Plus, it helps that Jonathon is a “talker” and can probably convince anyone!
Honestly, we feel like many of the locations we deliver to were in need of more fresh, local, organic options. I think it’s safe to say that much of our success is for that reason.
Just as much as marketing is about telling a story, it’s about getting your customers to connect with you on an emotional level too.
As we near the end of the season we have much to be thankful for. It wasn’t a banner year, in fact it wasn’t a great growing season at all, but we did the best we could. We have roughly 4-5 weeks left of our CSA deliveries and can’t wait to start introducing winter squash, potatoes, cauliflower, cabbage, and et cetera into the mix. Cheers to a successful end of the season!