Friday, July 20, 2012

Savvy Farm Promotion, Made Simple

On a recent farm marketing tour a group of growers were able to experience the gamut of retail farm marketing from large corporations that incorporate small market aesthetics to small markets making full use of the mobile and internet tools available to them. 

Giant Eagle's apple display signage
One large corporation, Giant Eagle Market District in Pittsburgh, is taking marketing back to its roots.  Utilizing hand-painted signage and displays that look like I could put them together in my garage, they were able to take what sounds like a rustic set-up and make it eye-catching and even beautiful. Their store displayed a large variety of national brands, local produce, and locally made value added products such as baked goods and sauces all in one convenient location for the consumer. Cues can be taken from their straightforward signage and grouped display stations that dominated the store, making it easily navigable for customers. 

Peach display at Giant Eagle. Notice the inclusion of pie-baking supplies.
On the flip side we visited a family farm, Covered Bridge Gardens, in Ohio who is utilizing cutting edge technology to get the word out to their CSA and farmers’ market customers. In addition to their slick looking website linking their Facebook page, blog, and e-commerce site, the farm is in the initial development stages of an app for smartphones.  This app will alert their CSA customers to surplus produce or changes in their pickup schedules.  It will help customers find them at area farmers markets, link to their online store on their website and make every part of their business literally available at their finger tips.  With the trend of smartphone users to utilize their devices more for social media and web surfing rather than for simple calling, transitioning to an app is a logical method for Covered Bridge Gardens to reach their customers in the way that is most convenient for both parties.

In discussion after our groups visit to Covered Bridge Gardens, a tour attendee brought up a good point.  If you are unable to be lucky enough or willing to pay the money for the development of your own farm app, a great way to replicate some of the functions is through the use of QR codes.  Many area markets are starting to add these codes to their value added product labels, door stickers and the backs of their business cards.  When incorporated correctly, meaning printed in a clear and easy to identify fashion, these codes can be used as another quick methods to direct customers to your website.  Especially useful if your site offers an e-commerce shopping section allowing customers to make purchases directly on the web. Just think if you pick up a jar of your favorite spicy gooseberry jelly at a market while traveling and was savoring the last bits at the bottom of the jar.  Wouldn’t it be nice to scan a quick code from the back of that jar with your phone as you savored your last mouthful and be instantly directed to a site where you could order more?  I think this sounds downright delightful, and delicious!

For more information on QR codes, straightforward signage and displays for your market, or technology based marketing options for your business check out the Ag Entrepreneurship Team’s past blog posts.  Here are a few of my favorites:

This post comes from the newest member of Penn State Extension's Ag Entrepreneurship Team, Carla Snyder. Carla is the Ag Entrepreneurship/Marketing educator in Adams County, PA.

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