Most small farm owners are big on skills and short on time. It takes a lot of knowledge and work to grow a wide array of produce for your customers, and they certainly appreciate your efforts. Usually, it’s the growing that you focus on and enjoy the most. Marketing, on the other hand, can feel like a dark art or a time suck despite knowing its importance.
Fear not, for we have some tips that will guide you through using the most effective marketing tool out there! While a carefully constructed and well-rounded marketing plan will get you the best results, email marketing is by far the most potent and efficient tool in your belt.
Why is email the best tool you have as a small local farm?
Let’s face the facts – as a small farm your customers come to you because they like your product and they trust you as a farmer. They like you, they like your farming practices, and they like the freshness and the taste of the food you produce. You grow and raise great food, that much is for sure, but the relationship building can be tough at times.
Markets are busy, and you generally only get a couple of minutes to chat with each customer. Sending a monthly, bi-weekly, or weekly email to them gives you a lot more opportunity to show them who you are and build trust and a lasting connection. You’ll be much more than a vegetable peddler to them!
People are forgetful, and also like to try new things. If you’ve emailed them before market day or pickup day (or however you operate your business), you’re more likely to be at the top of their mind. You might even give them something to look forward to with a featured product, making them less likely to browse around at other farms.
Time Effecticient, Direct, and Guaranteed
Even a meticulously crafted email can be written and sent out in well under an hour, and will give you much better return than an hour spent on other marketing activities. That’s because your message goes straight to your customers’ (or potential customers’) inboxes, and they’re nearly guaranteed to receive it (and very likely to open it).
Your website, and Google listing are only visible to people actively looking for them, and if someone stopped at the stall before yours at the market, you’re s#!t out of luck! Get in front of them with an email.
What do I write about?
There are a few main items we’d suggest including in your emails. Don’t worry if you’re not a good writer (we’re sure you are) – just get something out there! Let people get to know who you and your farm are, because that’s what you’re selling just as much as your meat, veg, and fruits!
This is by far the content your customers will enjoy the most. Teach them about why your farming practices are so great, provide them with recipes, or teach them about the great things about local food. The sky’s the limit – use your imagination and try to come up with an interesting subject for each email.
Inform your buyers of what’s new this time of the season, and what’s turned out particularly well this year. Including some glamour shots of your food will be sure to entice them! See our tips for getting high quality photos.
Updates, News, and Reminders
Don’t be shy to remind your customers of upcoming market dates, any changes to scheduling, or let them konw what’s going on around the farm. They’ll be interested in hearing about your animals, your staff, and funny things that happen throughout your day.
A Little Bit of “You”
Try to add something with some personality and pizzaz – poetry, photography, or a quirky note. Anything that helps them get to know you will be of great value.
Expanding your customer base
We don’t want you to go to the effort of writing these emails just to keep your existing customers – we want to help you grow! Even if someone isn’t buying from you, if they’re at all interested in local food, there’s a good chance they’ll be interested in what you have to say in your emails. If you show up in their inbox periodically, they’ll surely want to try out what you have to offer sooner rather than later.
How Do I Do It?
We’re working on building the ultimate all-in-one marketing software solution for small farms and farmers’ markets, which includes a free website, ecommerce store, email tools, and social media integrations – if that sounds interesting, sign up for our newsletter using the form in the sidebar! Our free websites and ecommerce stores are already available!
For now we’d recommend going with Mailchimp for your emailing needs. It will take a few minutes to get set up, but it’s well worth the time investment, and their free plan should cover just about any small farm’s needs.
Whenever someone makes a purchase from you, get their email address! You should also have an email sign-up form on your website, which can be embedded from Mailchimp. Having engaging content on your website, and promising to share more via email will be what gets people to sign up.
Sending email via Mailchimp is extremely easy with Mailchimp’s drag and drop email editor. It shouldn’t take long to become an expert, allowing you to get emails out in just a few minutes!