Your Marketing Activities—Good Business or Just Busyness?
I have a confession to make. I’m a blog reading junkie. I read five or six blogs every day. Some are about marketing trends, others about sustainable and regenerative farming practices, and some just because I like the writer’s topics and writing styles. I tell myself that this habit broadens my perspectives and serves to improve my skill sets. And they do, but isn’t this habit also part of my busyness every day?
We’ve elevated busyness to virtue in our society. We feel guilty if we find ourselves relaxing or not “working our business”. Sound businesses take hard work. And, if being busy makes you feel better about your business; that’s fine. But know that being busy won’t guarantee your success. Don’t mistake being busy for being productive.
Marketing is very important in your business but doesn’t it confuse being busy with getting good results. The best way to improve your marketing efforts is to measure the results. That means measuring the inputs (your time and marketing resources) against the outcomes (profitable sales). In social media likes, friends, and tagging is not output even though the metrics would imply you’re moving forward. Actual customer engagement and sales are the true output.
Farmers' markets can be excellent marketing channels but producers are now weighing the input costs (time and product availability) against the output (sales per market day) and deciding which markets to attend or drop from their marketing mix.
Producing good marketing materials can be very time-consuming. Having an informative website, printed materials, and point of sales materials is important. But are you measuring how effective your materials are? Do they attract customers to your stand or webpage? This is a constant struggle for even seasoned marketers and we all shake our heads when a customer says “I didn’t know you were here or had these products”.
I don’t mean to imply that social media isn’t a good tool, or farmers' markets can’t be a profitable sales channel, or that developing good marketing support materials is a waste of time. I am saying that trained people are more productive than untrained ones. Are you attending trainings for effective marketing, reading examples of others' successful marketing stories, or consider hiring someone with the skill sets you need so you can create real value for your time elsewhere in the business? Are you developing the skills needed to turn busywork into productive outcomes?
Look to Extension and other professional Ag service providers for the training and support. Get proactive in improving your market skills. It takes time and planning to make sure your marketing strategies are good for your business and not just part of the daily busyness. But, the value is there and it's worth investing in.
Mastering Marketing is produced by Ginger S. Myers and is published periodically containing important seasonal marketing information.