Friday, September 28, 2012

Using PA MarketMaker to Market Your Business (part 5)

In my previous posts, I discussed how helpful PA MarketMaker ( is for marketing your ag business.  Another way MarketMaker can assist you is by providing you with market research.

In the process of marketing your products, you may want to use online directories to list your products and services.  In doing so, you will also want to perform market research to understand where your customers are and what you can do to meet their needs.

PA MarketMaker is loaded with census data to help producers find the best place to market their products and services.  This data is easily summarized on a map to show concentrations of consumer markets.

To explore Pennsylvania MarketMaker’s market research data:

1.  Visit and click on the drop-down box under the Market Research heading located in the upper left corner of the page.  You can then choose what data category you want to study: Age, Household Type, Race, Income, Education, Foreign Born, or Food Preferences.

2.  The second drop-down box will show choices within your chosen category.  Click Search when you are ready to view the available data.

3.  Your search will bring up a map filled with a great deal of information.  The key in the upper center of the page can help you see where the largest concentrations of your selected customer type lives.

Another feature of the Market Research section is the ability to explore the locations of a certain type of business as an overlay on the map.  For example, a grocery store manager looking for the closest producer of organic vegetables can query the website to find names and contact information.  To do this, click on the blue Business Search tab in the upper left corner of the page and select the type of business you are looking for.

Take advantage of this opportunity to market your products and services online!  Pennsylvania’s database has over 380 registered businesses and over 46,000 listings.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Using PA MarketMaker to Market Your Business (part 4)

Continuing on with this series on marketing with PA MarketMaker, another great feature of MarketMaker is the Buy & Sell Forum.  Do you have extra corn that needs to be sold by the end of the week?  Do you own a restaurant and need steak for this week’s menu?  The Buy & Sell Forum allows you to create ads for products or services you are looking to buy or sell.

Creating a listing in the Buy & Sell Forum

1. Once you receive your username and password, click on the “Login” button located in the upper right corner of the Pennsylvania MarketMaker homepage (

2. Click on the “My Buy & Sell Ads” from the top menu bar.

3. On the next page, click “New Ad.”

4. From the dropdown menu, select from “Looking to Buy,” “Looking to Sell,” “Service and Equipment,” “Transportation,” or “Other.”

5. The Manage Ad page allows you to create an ad title, a complete description of what you are advertising, and length of time the ad should be posted. After you complete this, click “Continue.”

6. On the next page, you are able to upload up to five images about your ad. If you do not want to upload an image, simply click “Continue.”

7. The final page allows you to review your ad. If you find any mistakes, click the “Edit” button and make your changes. If you are satisfied, click “Continue.”

8. If you want to edit your ad, simply return to the Members Area and click on the “My Buy & Sell Ads” link.

Congratulations! You have just created a listing in the Buy & Sell Forum. The Pennsylvania MarketMaker website is full of other helpful information and tools.  In my next post, I'll discuss how to use MarketMaker for market research.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Keeping Detailed Records Can Improve Marketing Decisions

The other week I attended a field day at a PA dairy farm that has a creamery enterprise processing their own cheese.  Having attended numerous field days, I expected the day to be spent covering the production aspects of the business.  A fair part of the days was, in fact, spent on dairy and cheese production.  However, what impressed me was the time and detail spent on record-keeping and marketing for the cheese enterprise. The manager shared several examples of the charts created from data they track - everything from milk usage to customer (outlet) trends to sales by type of cheese - all over a multiple year span.

I've created an example, below, (with non-existent data) to illustrate how detailed record-keeping can assist in making marketing decisions.

Example chart of cheese sales ($) by type

The chart easily illustrates for each cheese type how sales have changed over the five-year period in question.  Anyone looking at this can quickly see that sales of cheeses A, D, and G, after reaching a peak in 2010, dropped in 2011.  This should tell the business owner that those are cheeses that should be closely watched during the coming year to see if sales continue to drop.  The owner might additionally want to do some investigative work to see if he/she can identify a specific reason behind the drop in sales.  Alternatively, the significant sales increases for cheeses B and E may lead the owner to increase marketing for those types, or to leverage their popularity to assist with sales of the cheeses with decreasing sales.

Whether it's cheese or another product, having sales data organized in a fashion like this can easily assist with identifying trends among your customers and help you make production and sales decisions.