Lessons from the “Are You Crazy?” Retail Farm Market Bus Tour
For two beautiful days in mid-September, I had the opportunity to join Penn State Extension’s Annual “Are You Crazy?” Retail Farm Market Bus Tour. This year, guided by Penn State Extension Educators, Brian Moyer, and Carla Synder, the tour provided participants with an opportunity to visit premier retail farm marketing/agritourism enterprises to see new things, get ideas to use at home, learn from each other, and build a network of contacts. Stops on the tour included:
Windy Knoll Farm Market & Creamery, Chambersburg
Tayler’s Farm Market, Inwood
Orr’s Farm Market, Martinsburg
Marker-Mill Orchards Farm Market & Bakery, Winchester
Williowford Farm, Ashburn
Burnside Farms, Haymarket
Ticonderoga Farm, Chantilly
Stoneybrook Farm, Hillsboro
Great Country Farms, Bluemont
What follows is some new twists for approaching old problems, merchandising tools, innovative ideas for display design and layout, and diversification techniques.
- While fall may be your busiest season, it’s the best time of the year to see how others are presenting and marketing products.
- Match your products and programs to available labor resources. Don’t hesitate to add a new product or program but, don’t hesitate to drop a one that you don’t have the time or labor to implement well.
- Find a Point-of-Service program that works with your recordkeeping system. Electronic programs such as Quickbooks Merchant programs with the GoPay feature helps keep track of sales, inventory management, and generating valuable management reports.
- Packaging costs have escalated. Many operations are now replacing baskets or boxes with plastic bags for fruit.
- What’s your marketing message for your current customer base
- Bakery - Fresh and home-made
- Pick-Your-Own - Fresh and Local
- Farmland Preservation and Open Space - Shop all things local
- Convenience and add-ons - Baking tools, BBQ tools, rubs, sauces, spices, meats, dairy, cheese, and wines.
- Consider colors for shelving as color of products. Dark background colors make product colors pop out. Use contrasting colors. Maximize the use of primary colors red, blue, and yellow.
- Provide a place to congregate - Benches, rocking chairs, counters. Give customers a reason to linger and impulse buys will follow.
- Use signage opportunities for agri-educating your customers. Signage about how it’s grown, nutritional techniques, preparation and storage tips, promotion of local farms producing local foods.
- Each market had it’s “signature” product or event which provided branding in their customers’ mind.
- Seasonality drives most diversification.
- Be careful not to “like” your signature product or event so much that you neglect other promotions and other revenue streams.
- The amount of product and event diversification must be in direct proportion to the available workforce and management time required for that sales segment to be profitable.
Mastering Marketing is produced by Ginger S. Myers and is published periodically containing important seasonal marketing information.