Business plan or strategic plan—which is right for your farm business?

Business plan or strategic plan—which is right for your farm business?

Many years ago, I was president of a marketing services division for a Fortune 500 company. And every year I had to create a strategic plan that would have made Tolstoy proud. Always in excess of 150 pages, chock-full of financial recaps and projections, capital allocation plans, market assessments, key performance goals and indicators, human resource plans, and the like.

It was grueling.

A few pages were helpful to position and propel our division. But honestly, 98% of them were CYA pages designed to impress the board of directors.

Later, I rebelled against big business and quit that job. I wanted to start my own business. A business that I bootstrap financed with a wallet full of credit cards.

It had to work—I had everything riding on it. Just as you do if you’re a business owner.

So I needed to make clear strategic choices and focus on the factors most critical to our success. But only on those factors.

Since there was no one to impress at my one-person start-up, I ditched what I had learned and created a far simpler strategic planning process.

And it worked.

Five years later we had 450 employees, offices in six countries, and Inc. Magazine named us the 130th fastest growing company in the United States.

Later, I applied the same strategic lessons to starting and growing our farm business. I’d like to share a few lessons I’ve learned on how to make strategic choices for any small business.

  1. A business plan is not a strategic plan. When someone dreams of starting a business, farm, or otherwise, they often search for a business planning template. Lenders and investors always request a business plan. It’s the document that explains the “who and what” of a business. Who are the founders, what are the products, etc. And boilerplate business plans ask you to list your competitors and so on. But that’s really the problem with business plans—they’re fill-in-the-blank. They really don’t help an entrepreneur to make strategic choices. By contrast, a strategic plan is the “how, why, and when” of a business. Done properly, a strategic plan requires the owner to make clear strategic choices. That’s important in any business, but it may be more important in farming than any industry I’ve seen. There are just so many product, enterprise, and go-to-market choices in farming. If choices aren’t made clearly and decisively, the farm business can suffer for years.
  2. Simplify. There may be nothing more critical to the success of a business than choosing a clear strategy and executing well. But that doesn’t mean it has to be complicated—or 150 pages. In fact, I argue that creating a plan on one-page is a better approach. One thing I’ve learned about starting anything is that it’s important to focus. It makes sense that getting your plan on one-page makes it easier to focus than scrolling through 50 or more pages. So get the essence of your entire business strategy on one page so you can see it, assess it, and revise as needed.
  3. Get clear on your why – In business planning, there is a lot of talk (and confusion) about vision, mission, and core values. And it’s okay for others to be confused. But when you own a business you must be clear on where you’re going, why you’re going there, and your non-negotiable values. That vision, mission, and core values will inspire others to help you achieve your vision. “Others” could be family members, apprentices, employees, lenders, or advisors. And it includes your community and customers. Trust me—you need a team to build an impactful business. And you’re their tribe leader. But they’ll want to know where they’re going and why. Invest the energy to nail your vision, mission, and core values so you can attract your tribe.
  4. Choose your competitive advantage – I cover this issue in great detail in my book The 1-Page Strategic Plan. But the gist is this: you need to either commit to being a low-cost producer or a value-added producer. Either can work. Getting caught between those two is a business death trap. In the farming world, this means it’s hard to succeed by selling low-price chickens and also offer value-added services such as shipping.
  5. Define your top critical success factors – There are lots of little things that impact business success. But it’s not the little things that keep you from falling asleep. It’s the big things. These are the critical success factors to define. For example, a critical success factor could be rapidly growing your email list. Or finding and negotiating an agreement with a USDA processor. Or securing farm liability insurance and buffering your personal assets. There are many possible critical success factors, unique to each business and owner. But these are the things that you worry about. Instead of worrying about them, create a plan to address them.
  6. Create key performance goals (KPGs) – KPGs differ from key performance indicators—those are metrics that relate to the goals. You’ll want to create a KPG for each critical success factor. This allows you to develop a plan to address each worry you have. And when you do that, my goodness, will you feel liberated. There’s nothing better than taking something that worries the hell out of you and creating an actionable plan for addressing that concern. That’s what a SMART KPG does. You stop worrying. You start acting. And you move in the direction of your vision.
  7. Actually USE your strategic plan – The problem with those boilerplate business plans is that no one looks at them once completed. They get filed away. Don’t misunderstand me—I’ve created those plans too. I used to borrow against lines of credit in the millions of dollars each month. Those lenders required business plans. And I gave them what they wanted. And then filed it away, never to look at it again. Why? Because, again, it was a CYA document for the bank. It had nothing to do with how I would successfully operate my business. I needed a clear, 1-Page Strategic Plan for that. But completing that initial plan is just the start. Things change in business all the time. Opportunities arise. We fail to execute the way we expect. Crises emerge. These are opportunities to escape our business for a moment—to sit, reflect, and plan. So whatever approach you use for planning, keep your plan alive. Make your plan a tool you use frequently, just as you would, oh, I don’t know—a wheel hoe.

Some people make business look easy. I’m sure you’ve seen this. Whether it’s another farm or an entrepreneur in another industry, some people just seem to have a knack for business. Their business prospers and we wonder, “why them and not me?

I was speaking with a friend recently who has created a remarkable farm business. His farm has passed $30 million in annual sales selling all sorts of pastured protein. And I’ve followed their story for many years, watching them take risks and make big strategic bets. Yet, this farmer doesn’t think of himself as a strategist. He just “does it.” And he does it well.

Honestly, most people aren’t like that.

Not everyone is an intuitive and decisive decision-maker or an innately strong strategic thinker. The rest of us need to follow a process to help us. A process, guide, or plan can give us the confidence we need to make better decisions.

The good news is that there are tools out there to help. And no, I’m not just talking about my book on the subject. You can find a mentor. And there are other books on strategic planning.

The important lesson is to simplify and clarify your strategy. To succinctly describe how your business will succeed.

“How” is the essence of strategy. The word is simple, short, and easy to understand. And that’s exactly what your strategic plan should be.

7 Winter Farm Marketing Tips

7 Winter Farm Marketing Tips


In this episode, you’ll learn…

  • Why you should use winter downtime to further your farm marketing education.
  • Why now is the time to plan on building your email list, and the four steps of list-building.
  • How to plan a blog or content marketing calendar for the coming year.
  • Why and how to set-up your email marketing for the next year (and learn how to leet sequences and auto-responders do your farm marketing for you).
  • Why it’s critical that you take a fresh look at the copywriting on your farm website.
  • How to schedule farm events now for the entire year.
  • Why now’s the best time to get customer testimonials and how to promote them.
  • Of course, you can get a head start on all this by joining the Small Farm Nation Academy whenever you’re ready.
CLICK HERE TO READ FULL TRANSCRIPT

Hey there, thanks for joining me again this week.

So it’s marketing week here on the Small Farm Nation podcast. And it’s also December so we’re winding down the farm season and, for most of us, beginning our winter recess. While that means we have fewer chores to do, we still have farm chores, right? Frozen water troughs, hay that’s frozen farm wintergotta be dished out, pigs still need to be fed and so on.

But the chore load is definitely reduced this time of year, and that’s a good thing. Because we need to rejuvenate, celebrate the season and recharge our batteries. No doubt about it. So what can we do on these frigid winter days to drive our farm businesses forward? I suspect many of you are looking at seed and hatchery catalogs, or even working on planting calendars.

jp2mjrdp But we also need to take advantage of this time to focus on one of the most strategically important areas of our business—of any business. And that is marketing.

Now marketing, of course, is not a seasonal or one-time thing. It’s a continual process…a thousand little things. Sure, marketing campaigns can be one-time or seasonal things. But marketing itself is ongoing.

Now, I’d like to think that you’re focused on marketing every week of the year. But I know better. I know that once spring gets here you’re overrun with baby chicks, baby pigs, baby sheep—baby everything.  And the grass starts growing, you’re running fence lines, cutting hay, processing animals, making pickups and deliveries. There just ain’t enough hours in the day.

For most of you, marketing is what suffers. It’s what gets put aside until later—and later often doesn’t come.

But now that winter’s here you have an opportunity to focus on marketing and plan your marketing for the coming year. Having said that, let me give you seven action items you can do right now to help you grow your customer base this coming year.

Winter task number one is to take an online marketing course. Now, full disclosure, this is obviously a biased suggestion because I operate the Small Farm Nation Academy. But, c’mon, you should absolutely join the Academy right now.

The Academy has hundreds of videos and audio lessons on everything you need to know to market your farm business. How to build your brand, how to grow your email list, how to set-up and manage your website, how to write more engaging copy for your site and emails, how to master search engine optimization and so much more.

And there are tons of other resources that will help you. Downloadable templates, images, worksheets, and let’s not forget a community forum of other farmers trying to grow their businesses as well.

And you get one-on-one coaching from me, free, anytime you’d like it.

So tip number one is to invest in your education and become a marketing ninja. You’ve read all the books on farming, probably taken tours and courses. Now it’s time to do the same thing with farm marketing.

And the place to do that is Small Farm Nation Academy
farm marketing course

Winter task number two is to is to optimize your list building efforts.

You’ve heard it many times, but an email list is your most important communication asset. It’s the best way for you to control getting a message directly to your customers. But most farm websites do an awful job of list building. But it’s not rocket science. List building comes down to four simple steps.

The first step of list building is to have a place to capture emails. Of course, that means being on your website. Do you have one? An opt-in form?

If you don’t, that’s a problem. So create one, right away.

But even if you do, does it stand out? Does it have great contrast with the rest of the page? Is it located above the fold and also at the top of the sidebar, if you have one, and at the bottom of blog posts? That’s important, because the three rules of list building are to ask for the email, ask again and then to ask again. Keep asking. So make sure that opt-in box is visible on your website.

But not just on your website. Make sure there’s a “sign-up” button on your Facebook page so people are driven to the opt-in form that way.

The second step of list building is to drive traffic to that place. You have two choices when it comes to driving traffic. Earn it through search engine optimization and organic traffic. Or buy it with advertising, such as with Facebook ads.

But, if you buy ads, you don’t just want to drive traffic to your site. Instead, you want to drive people to a landing page where you have an offer and nothing else. No other content to distract them. Just your offer.

That takes us to the next step.

The third step of list building is to give people a great reason to sign-up. This could be a coupon for something free or a discount on their first order. Or it could be a lead magnet. If you don’t have a lead magnet, I gave over 30 ideas for lead magnets in the list building course in the Small Farm Nation Academy, and I’m available there one-to-one to help you if you want.

But you have to give the visitor a compelling reason to sign up. Don’t make it easy for people to leave your site without subscribing to your email list!

The fourth and final step of list building is to give people a way and a reason to share.

Of course, successful list building is much more detailed than that and requires tools and know how. I cover all this in an advanced 11-video course on list building in the Small Farm Nation Academy.

But what you can do now, this winter, is to review how you’re doing with those four steps.

winter chicken tractorsWinter task number three is to plan your blog post calendar for the year. You do have a blog, right? If not, plan a content calendar for the year. If you’re not sure what to blog about or why you should be creating content, check out my full-length course on content marketing in the Small Farm Nation Academy. It’ll get you going.

When you do plan out your content calendar be sure to start with the end in mind with your content strategy. In other words don’t just wake up and say, “I gotta write a blog post today” or “I gotta send out an email update.”

Have a clear and measurable objective around each piece of content. If your objective is to grow your email list, start with that and create content to accomplish that goal.

If your goal is to rank for a search phrase organically, start with that and work to achieve that goal.

Just start with a goal and work backward to achieve it.

Winter task number four is to plan an email marketing calendar for the year. And the first thing you should plan is your auto-responders and sequences.

Here’s what I mean. Go to smallfarmnation.com/launchpad. Then, just sign up for the free video series. When you do you’ll immediately receive an email with a link to the first video. Then you’ll receive subsequent emails on later days to the additional videos in the Farm Marketing Launchpad.

After you finish watching you’ll be subscribed to a sequence that will invite you to join me in the Small Farm Nation Academy. There are about 15 emails in all. And all of them were written earlier this year, and now they’re on auto-pilot.

And that’s what you need to do now, while you have time. Do you have an auto-sequence for when people subscribe? If not, get on it! And if you do, are you trying to lead them to a specific action? If not, why not? Because that’s the goal, right? Not to get subscribers, but to get customers!

So now is the time to work out your email calendar for the year. Beyond these auto sequences, go ahead and plan out your frequency and topics for the coming year. Use a tool like Trello or Google Sheets—I use both for this purpose—to plan your email calendar.

Winter task number five is to re-copywrite farm website.

Let me be blunt—most of the copy on farm websites is pretty poor. Yours probably is too. And it’s not that way because people can’t write, that’s not it at all. It’s because they aren’t concentrating on writing with purpose.

For instance, most “About Us” pages just spew off a stream-of-consciousness recap of how the farm came to be. Now, contrast that with someone focusing on optimizing that page for search results. Or strategically building in a call-to-action. If they did that they’d write copy that would lead the visitor to take action.

And it’s like that on all pages.

The copy on your website is probably the most important part. I’m all for beautiful images and great designs—I think that’s important too. But people take action based on the words they read. It’s the words more than the images that connect with people.

So take a close, honest look at your copy. I’ve got a thorough course on copywriting in the Small Farm Nation Academy where I break down these sins, step by step, and show you how to correct them on your own.

That’s a really important marketing task you can focus on, right now.

Winter task number six is to schedule farm events for the coming year. This includes farm tours, market dates, and any special events. Farm dinners, classes—that kind of thing.

Be sure to align your events with your brand positioning, and make sure they’re relevant for your audience. If you’re selling premium artisan cheese to foodies then a corn maze probably isn’t the event you want to focus on. Think more along the lines of cheese appreciation dinners paired with local wines, brews, and spirits.

Farm events can be a great offering. Not only can they be real money makers, but, when done well, they create deep, lasting relationships with customers who now have a bond with the farm.

I know what I’m talking about here…I’ve done lots of these farm events. I think it’s a great opportunity for you too, and now’s the time to plan out yours for next year.

Finally, winter task number seven is to gather customer reviews and create a plan to promote them.

Look, getting reviews is easy. Here’s the trick. Ask. Just ask.

Ask on Facebook, Instagram or wherever you hang out. Ask via email, and ask in your farm store.

And make it easy. When someone says they don’t know what to say (and some will) point them to a page where they can see other testimonials. If you’re just starting out, have that page be a private page you create with a few examples.

Good testimonials only need to be a sentence or two. That’s all. If you want to see some examples head over to Small Farm Nation Academy and you’ll see over a dozen testimonials from members of the Academy. It’ll give you a sense of how to structure your own testimonials.

When you have your testimonials don’t just file them away. Promote them! Make them very visible on your website, for sure. But also promote via email and turn them into nice graphics you can share on social media.

Okay, there you have it. Seven important marketing tasks to focus on this winter. Here’s a recap.

  1. Join Small Farm Nation Academy so you can take farm marketing courses.
  2. Optimize your site for email list building.
  3. Create your blog calendar for the upcoming year.
  4. Plan your email marketing for the coming year, especially the auto-responders and sequences.
  5. Re-write the copy on your website, and do so strategically.
  6. Plan farm events for the coming year.
  7. Gather and promote customer reviews.

If you focus on these seven areas now you’ll be in great shape next year, even if you get sidetracked by those pesky farm chores.

To share your thoughts:

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Thanks for listening. Until next time!

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Why I switched from ConvertKit to BirdSend (hint: I saved a bundle and my life is easier)

Why I switched from ConvertKit to BirdSend (hint: I saved a bundle and my life is easier)

Over the years I’ve used a LOT of email service providers. I used Constant Contact to send newsletters to our subscribers when I started my farm in 2007. Constant Contact had tons of templates to use, which seemed valuable at the time. Today I frown on email templates. The graphics and styled text can significantly lower deliverability and open rates.

Since moving from Constant Contact over a decade ago, I’ve marched through a string of email platforms. Mad Mimi, MailChimp, AWeber, Mailer Lite, Emma, and more.

I’ve even used expensive automated marketing platforms such as Active Campaign and Infusionsoft. Those tools have impressive capabilities. But those capabilities come at a steep price. They are primarily used for “funnel marketers.” Farmers and small business owners generally need not of those capabilities.

Email Marketing Requirements

What farmers and small business owners need with their email marketing provider is a service that:

  1. Is low cost.
  2. Is minimal and easy to use.
  3. Makes it a snap to create automated sequences.
  4. Has excellent deliverability. 

For the last few years, I relied on ConvertKit. It’s a good tool that many people use. And it met three of the four criteria I just listed. But it wasn’t low cost. Well, it wasn’t for me, anyway. By the time I left ConvertKit a few months ago, it was costing me $167 per month, or over $2,000 per year—that’s a lot of pork rinds!

In the scheme of things, two grand a year isn’t a big deal for a marketing expense. But I don’t like wasting money—it’s just my nature as a long-time bootstrap entrepreneur. So I searched for a better solution.

Birdsend Was a GodSend

I don’t even recall how I first came across BirdSend. No doubt I was searching for cheaper alternatives to ConvertKit, without losing the other functionality I valued. But find it I did. After reviewing their story, functionality, and pricing, I started testing them.

The first thing that struck me about BirdSend was their service. Honestly, I still can’t get over how helpful and responsive they are. I needed that service because I had LOTS of automated sequences and rules set up in ConvertKit. And I had many forms on my WordPress site that I created using Thrive Leads, Bloom, and other applications.

BirdSend did ALL the work for me. They copied my ConvertKit automated sequences. And they customized and integrated each of my website forms. Here’s what I had to do to switch: NOTHING.

How to Save a Bundle With Email Marketing

As I said, ConvertKit was costing me $167 per month! For the same number of subscribers, I paid BirdSend a lump sum of $384…but that was for 15 months! So, yeah, that’s $384 for BirdSend and $2,505 for ConvertKit over a 15 month period. Think about how much I’ll save over the next 5-10 years!

So, yeah, the $2,100 initial savings was a no brainer.

Now, of course, there is a bit of a learning curve with BirdSend. That’s true anytime you make a change. But, A) it’s intuitive to use and pretty simple, and B) their support team seems to always be there in the chat icon on the page. So when I needed help, I just asked. And they answered. 

Now I’m saving a lot of money. Money I can apply to other marketing projects, like advertising, creating better lead magnets, graphic design, and so on.

I get all the functionality I need with BirdSend. Easy A/B split testing, automation, tagging, etc. But I get it without any of that other nonsense that I don’t need. Let’s face it…most farmers and small business marketers don’t need that other stuff. But we need something WAAAAY better than MailChimp.

Email Marketing Simplified

I understand why marketers of some products need sophisticated platforms like Ontraport or Infusionsoft. But I don’t. And I bet you don’t either. 

On the other hand, I find free tools such as MailChimp harder to use than either ConvertKit or BirdSend. And I sure don’t care for their pricing change on how they count subscribers. But, I get why some people start with them or MailerLite. 

As for me, I’m glad a great solution with BirdSend. It meets my needs for easy marketing automation, great deliverability, and vary affordable pricing. I should be happy with it for years to come.

How to Create an Email List for Your Farm

How to Create an Email List for Your Farm

One of the challenges I hear most often expressed from small farmers (really any small business, actually), is how difficult it is to create an email list of potential customers. In fact, when I created a survey in my farm marketing group on Facebook, members rated “building a customer list” as the number one challenge.

It’s frustrating to them, I know, for not only is farming and owning a small business challenging enough, now they’re thinking that they must become experts in marketing as well. They’re right. But I’d like to offer some encouragement and perhaps a few helpful tips to help them, and you, to automate the process of building your email list. In my experience, there are three components…layers, if you will, to ensure that your list automatically grows over time and becomes populated with people who are genuinely interested in what you’re doing, and what you have to offer.

1) What’s Your Story

Effective marketing, particularly in the niche of sustainable farming, farm to table restaurants and homestead based businesses, starts with a story.

  • Why are you doing what you’re doing?
  • Why is it important?
  • Who cares and why should they care?

The last question is important because it relates to the market you’re targeting, and your words need to resonate with what the customer values.

Where do you tell your story? You tell it on your “about” page, for sure, but your story needs to be conveyed in other ways throughout your website. Your use of images will tell the story as well as the words you choose on each page, in every email and in all social media posts.

WARNING: Don’t fall into the trap that I see so many do of copy-catting language. In the world of sustainable farming, it seems that everyone’s about page draws from a limited supply of words that run the risk of being overused. I’m thinking:

  1. sustainable
  2. organic and/or non-gmo (or beyond organic)
  3. grassfed or pastured
  4. humane
  5. back to the land
  6. and so on

These may be true statements behind why you began and how you operate, but, if you’re not careful you’ll look and sound like everyone else. You don’t want that because customers won’t perceive you as special as you really are. So choose your words carefully, but make sure they’re YOUR words, even if you pay someone to write them for you.

2) Create Rich Content

Even today, there are still far too many businesses that create websites to serve as online brochures. The problem with that is, once the visitor reads your about page and your offering, they “get it” and have no reason to come back.

It’s your job to give them a reason to come back frequently! Why? It’s one way they stay connected with you and that you stay top of mind when they think of who their favorite farmer (chef, etc.) is.

So how do you get them to come back? For over a decade now, the answer for many has been via blog posts. That’s still a viable strategy for many reasons, but the truth is that many people read those blog posts through RSS readers, which delivers a feed of your post to them without them actually visiting your site. And if you’re opt-in forms are in the sidebars, RSS readers won’t display them. True, you’re still in their thoughts, but it’s a pretty passive relationship. Not nearly as active as them typing in your URL to visit you.

Think about it from your perspective. What would cause you to go back to a website, other than one like Amazon where you make frequent purchases (we both know you do)?

A great method of driving traffic is through email marketing. Sending an email with links to rich content on your site that they can’t get another way.  Of course, this requires an email list, which is the subject of this post, but you’ll understand how to do that once you digest all of these tactics. For now, your goal is to create keyword-rich content that is true to your story and resonates with what your target audience cares about. What kinds of content?

  • how-to blog posts
  • inspirational images
  • how-to static pages (doesn’t have to be blog posts)
  • recipes
  • stories (case studies, customer stories, etc.)
  • press releases and announcements
  • etc.

The content needs to be “rich” from two perspectives;

  • rich in terms of value to your reader and
  • rich in terms of keywords that will enable web searches to find you. Those keywords should be the things your target customer thinks about and searches on.

For instance, if you’re targeting folks interested in “organic farmers near Lexington, KY” or “raw milk near Woburn, MA”, your blog posts or static pages are a great way to create copy that’s both rich in keywords and content for your target customers. That way, you can craft language on your “about” page that’s less boilerplate and more unique to your story, mission, and values. When you’re a relatively new enterprise, showing up in search results is an important way to “get found,” and one of the best ways to show up is to create a steady stream of content. But when visitors do show up, your job is to get them to convert from visitors to subscribers. Often, you accomplish that with lead magnets.

3) Use Lead Magnets the Right Way

A lead magnet is simply something you offer in exchange for your visitor to sign-up for your list. It needs to be valuable since they’re giving you something valuable in exchange. An example of a lead magnet is the image on the left, which goes to this page. I use it throughout this site where I offer an enticing guide in exchange for opting into my list. This simple lead magnet added 120 subscribers to my email list in the first 3 days. All I did was share it on Facebook, that’s it.

Now, here’s what’s critical about this lead magnet. It directly connects my target audience (owners of farm businesses) to what I want to offer them (membership in the Small Farm Nation Academy). Therefore, the lead magnet works because it’s completely in alignment with my membership site offering.

In your case, it will be whatever you have that’s unique to you and, most important, valuable to your audience. For instance, if you sell raw goat’s milk, perhaps it’ll be a guide on how to make soap or cheese from the milk. If you sell pastured poultry or pork you may create a special subscriber’s section of your website that includes videos for cutting up a whole chicken, making bacon and charcuterie and so on. The point is to think about content that your market values and will be willing to join your list in exchange for receiving the content.

But–here’s where many people go wrong. It needs to be something that, if the person doesn’t download, they will either experience pain of some sort, or they’ll realize a great reward.

In my lead magnet example, if the farmer doesn’t download, they could miss out on knowing the secret sauce…the expert tips that bridge the gap between how their farm is currently performing and how the best farms perform, from a marketing perspective.

At the same time, they get a great reward if they insight that can help propel their farm business. So you’ll have to ask yourself, “will my customer feel pain if they don’t download the bone broth lead magnet, or will they experience a great reward if they do?” I’m thinking not. So, lead magnets can be a great tool in building an email list, but, to get great results, they need to be the right kind of lead magnet. FYI, for you members of the Small Farm Nation Academy, just post your lead magnet question/struggles in the forum and get some expert advice.

Of course, when you create content that connects to a lead magnet, don’t just post it on your website. Repost it on Facebook and other social media platforms, and be sure to use widgets and tools to encourage readers to share it on their pages. This will ultimately drive visitors to your site so that they can opt-in for the valuable content you’re offering.


This is a detailed topic and I could go on for quite a bit, for we haven’t even discussed the technology you use to create your opt-in forms, email marketing providers and so on. For this post, the point is to think about creating content that:

  • tells your story in a unique, compelling way
  • gets folks to visit your site repeatedly
  • has a clear strategy for converting them from visitors to subscribers

In terms of action items for you, think about these:

  • Set a specific goal for building your email list…say, adding 20 or 100 new subscribers a week, or whatever’s appropriate for you.
  • Review your “About” page as objectively as possible to see how will it resonates with new potential customers. Again, if you’re an Academy member, post in the forum if you’d like an expert review.
  • Look at your website to see what lead magnets you’re using. If you’re not using any, see what content you have that could be developed into a lead magnet.
  • Get into a habit of emailing your list on a predictable schedule (every Thursday, every two weeks, once a month, etc.). This not only sets a clear expectation with them but also forces you into a pattern of developing new content on that schedule.

Now, get busy growing your marketing list. It’s the lifeblood of your farm business!

How to Tackle Farm Price Objections: Farm Podcast

How to Tackle Farm Price Objections: Farm Podcast

We all know that sustainably produced food is more expensive than supermarket food, so how do we explain that when challenged?

This week I want to discuss a challenge that many small farmers face.  It’s one that they seem to all dread and it puts them on the defensive.

It’s the whole issue of defending why their products cost so much. Or, at least seems to cost so much.

Now, this is a real issue for many of us, so it’s not one we should run from. We need to be prepared to face this head on, and the better you get at this, the more it will become a non-issue.

Why is that?

Because, as your skill improves at conveying value, that skill will permeate all aspects of your marketing.

Your blog posts, your social media updates, what you say on your website and in your email marketing.

You’ll become proficient at conveying value and focusing on benefits, rather than being defensive.

Before we dive in, I want you to understand something.

The Dollar Store shopper isn’t your farm’s customer. Or at least not for most of you. You’re not running blue light specials.

I want you to understand that price objection is a good sign because it’s usually a buying signal.

The prospective customer wants to buy but needs to rationalize this objection.

And it’s your job to help them do just that.

And in this episode, I explain how to do that.

  1. Validate with empathy.
  2. Normalize the objection.
  3. Paint a farm picture.
  4. Sell value.

So here’s how it works with my director’s commentary, so to speak:

The customer says, why is the chicken so expensive?

“You’re right. If you’re comparing the price of our chicken to a chicken in a supermarket it seems ours costs more.” (I validated with empathy. But notice I used the word “seems.” It seems ours costs more. That’s to implant a subliminal message that perhaps the cost isn’t more. Now I want to normalize the objection, so I continue.)

“And you know, I had two customers on a recent farm tour who were concerned about the price at first, just as you are now.” (now to paint a farm picture)

So I walked them to the brood house and let them see the baby chicks. While we were there, they watched me fill their feeders, by hand, and check their water.

We then walked out to the pasture and saw the chickens scratching for bugs in their chicken tractors.

I explained how my wife and I built those tractors ourselves, and showed how we pulled them forward every day. I let one of the customers try and pull the tractor forward but she wasn’t quite ready for the workout.

But it gave her a real sense of two things.

The physical effort we put into raising these birds by hand, and the utter enjoyment these birds feel by soaking up sun, scratching earth and chasing insects. (this is me painting a vivid picture. Now I need to sell value).

Like you, I couldn’t understand why good food cost more when I first started out. But it all makes sense for me now.  I mean, a handcrafted knife is more valued and more costly to produce than a mass-produced one, right? Therefore, it costs more. Likewise, our chickens are hand fed, hand watered and hand processed on farm by our family.

It’s a handcrafted, ethical product from start to finish. So of course it costs more than a supermarket chicken, but it’s not remotely the same product.  And I strongly feel that a chicken deserves a chance to be a chicken.

Don’t you?

And this is where you stay silent.

Which, let’s face it…can be really hard.

But do it. Stay silent and let the customer respond when you say, “don’t you?”

So, here’s the whole conversation again, without any commentary on my part.

The customer says, why is the chicken so expensive?

“You’re right. If you’re comparing the price of our chicken to a chicken in a supermarket it seems ours cost more.”

“And you know, I had two customers on a recent farm tour who were concerned about the price at first, just as you are now.”

So I walked them to the brood house and let them see the baby chicks. While we were there, they watched me fill their feeders, by hand, and check their water.

We then walked out to the pasture and saw the chickens scratching for bugs in their chicken tractors.

I explained how my wife and I built those tractors ourselves, and showed how we pulled them forward every day. I let one of the customers try and pull the tractor forward but she wasn’t quite ready for the workout.

But it gave her a real sense of two things.

The physical effort we put into raising these birds by hand, and the utter enjoyment these birds feel by soaking up sun, scratching earth and chasing insects.

Like you, I couldn’t understand why good food cost more when I first started out. But it all makes sense for me now.  I mean, a handcrafted knife is more valued and more costly to produce than a mass-produced one, right? Therefore, it costs more. Likewise, our chickens are hand fed, hand watered and hand processed on farm by our family.

It’s a handcrafted, ethical product from start to finish. So of course it costs more than a supermarket chicken, but it’s not remotely the same product.  And I strongly feel that a chicken deserves a chance to be a chicken.

Don’t you?

Don’t forget to join us in the Small Farm Nation Academy.

Thanks for Listening!

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