Hey there, thanks for joining me again this week.
So business planning is the focus this week. Now, what do people usually say is the first thing you need before going into business? They say a business plan, right? Doesn’t matter if it’s your mom, your brother, a banker or someone you meet in the coffee shop. They all drink the same Kool-Aid and start chanting, you need a business plan, you need a business plan.
Like lemmings. Like all the people today who chant, you need to define your ideal customer, you need to define your ideal customer. Basically people hear something, think it’s authoritative and just repeat it.
On the surface, it makes sense that we’re told to create a business plan. Because real businesses have business plans, and we want to run a real business, right? But, have you ever seen a comprehensive business plan? Have you written a business plan? And, be honest…do you have a written business plan for your farm?
I’m not saying that planning isn’t necessary, even helpful. But “traditional” business planning is overemphasized, in my view. Just as a college education (usually) is.
And, listen, I’ve written and reviewed a ton of business plans. Many of them well over 100 pages long, full of internal and external analysis, capital allocation plans, key performance goals, market analysis, financial projections, contingency plans, human resources and marketing plans, SWOT analysis, Gantt charts and so on. And you also see a lot of emphasis on exit strategies, which not many new farmers are interested in. Which is too bad. Not because they should necessarily aspire to sell their farm businesses. But because they should build and run them as if they would. That way, they’d be much more successful.
But back to the point about business plans. Why did I create these plans, and were they useful?
Well, most of them I created because I had to. I worked in a Fortune 500 company and we had to create plans to persuade a board of directors, lenders and investors, to make capital allocations.
Later when I founded my own business, I had to create the plans to facilitate funding from venture capitalists, angel investors and banks.
But the key phrase here is “I had to”. So, I did. But what happened to the plans after I created them?
They got filed away, in the old days. Later as technology took over, they got stuck in a digital folder. But in both cases, they collected physical and digital dust.
In the corporate world, the business plans were useful for upper management to admonish me if I missed projections. They could say, “here’s what you said you’d do” and point to any gaps that existed. Fortunately, that was rarely the case for me, but that was how the plan was used.
When dealing with lenders, especially banks, with my own business, the business plan supposedly established that I was serious about my business—because I had obviously put a great deal of thought into my strategy.
Of course, my financial projections always looked exactly like everyone else’s. In other words, like a hockey stick. Hockey stick financial projections. A hockey stick financial projection is one that shows a slow or flat start, and then magically rockets up for future years just like the blade of a hockey stick.
We all do this. Entrepreneurs can’t help themselves. We’re too optimistic. We create spreadsheets, make projections of how we’re going to add customers every month, every quarter, and add new products or raise prices.
So we’ll continually sell more and earn more. Then, when we look at it and say, “that’s too good to be true,” we create additional models.
“I’ll create a conservative, a realistic and an aggressive projection,” we tell ourselves. So we do.
And then we get on to running our businesses.
And find that, almost always, our plans were flat out wrong.
These over-the-top business plan templates may be helpful if your business is raising capital. Or if you’re seeking serious lending, I’m sure your lender will require it. But, for 90% of us, at least, they are a waste of time.
So, today, I’m going to walk you through a simple planning guide that will help you answer everything that’s important, and chart your farm down a successful path. And, get this—you only need to answer eight questions! That’s it, 8 questions and you’ll have your business strategy laid out.
But before I walk you through those questions and the one-page business plan, let me go through a few reasons for why I don’t think you need to waste time on traditional business planning.
- The first reason is that focusing on a business plan may interfere with you ever having a business. Why? Because spending too much time planning can lead to paralysis by analysis. I’ve seen LOTS of folks who wanted to start a business, farm or otherwise. So they set to writing a business plan, usually with one of countless business plan templates. Then the would-be entrepreneur writes a first pass, and edits, tweaks, tweaks, tweaks and basically falls into a loop of ready, aim, aim, aim, aim, aim, aim—and they never get started. And you want to avoid anything that impedes your ability to start with your business. So, do you think I’m saying you shouldn’t plan a strategy for your business? Of course not! What do you think I am, crazy? No, you should have a plan. But it should be a very simple, actionable guide more than a plan, and I’ll walk you through exactly what you need in a moment.
- Another reason you don’t want to waste time on a long, drawn-out business plan is that businesses NEVER go as planned. You know that. You win, you lose—you have big advances and big setbacks. So you pivot, make adjustments and figure things out as you go. Look—businesses are dynamic and ever-changing. But business plans are static in nature and lack flexibility. So what the hell good are they unless you’re gonna go in and change them every week? And if you are, what do you need the plan for anyway? Just make the necessary changes to your business and get on with it.
- Finally, another reason to stay away from traditional business plans is that they can lock you in, psychologically. Because once you write something down—like, maybe you’re gonna raise heritage turkeys—then you think you have to stick with it. When, otherwise, you may recognize in short order it’s a bad idea and you can make an adjustment. Let’s think of this another way. It’s October, so let’s talk football. So imagine the absolutely despised, hated New England Patriots are playing my Pittsburgh Steelers. Bill Belichick, the evil coach of the hated, cheating Patriots creates a game plan to beat my honest, hard-working Steelers. But when his team falls far behind in the first quarter do you think he says, “well, I’ll just keep doing what we planned because I wrote it all down?” Hell no! He’ll make adjustments on the fly WAY before going into the locker room at halftime, his quarterback, Tom Brady will deflate the ball, they’ll come back and the refs will award them the game. So just as an NFL coach needs to be flexible and make adjustments in real time based on what they’re seeing, so do you. Their game plan is just that…a back of the napkin guide.
So, if you don’t need a traditional business plan, what do you need? In football, you need a game plan, of course. For your farm, I think you want to start with a one-page business plan. If you’re part of the Small Farm Nation Academy, you’ve no doubt seen my lesson on this and have probably created your own.
If you’re not part of the Academy you can still watch my lesson on it and get your own FREE one-page business plan template. Just hop over to smallfarmnationacademy.com and sign-up for the FREE training series. I’ll walk you through how to create your own plan and give you a template for you to customize.
For now, let me just describe the process. And I’ll dispense with all the gobbledey gook and business jargon. Let’s just concentrate on the EIGHT key questions that I think you need to answer.
These 8 questions make up the grid of the one-page business plan. Picture a 3X3 grid. The 8 questions fill those boxes, surrounding you in the center box in the grid and your ultimate competitive advantage.
So here are the 8 questions you want to ask yourself.
- Why are you farming? This is your mission. You want to ask yourself, what am I passionate about? What are my goals? What do I hope to accomplish with my business? WHY is this important? Your personal answers to these questions will galvanize into your mission. When you answer them clearly and honestly, you’ll know exactly why you want to start your business.
- Who will care and why? These are your customer segments, the folks who will buy from you and support you. Here’s what you want to answer. Are you targeting a local, regional or national market? If you’re targeting a niche, what niche are you targeting? And rather than thinking of an ideal customer, what do your target customer segments have in common? What do they each want from you? Is your customer the end user…the consumer? Or is it a wholesaler, distributor or retailer? Do your target customers need education…in other words, do they already know they have a need for what you’ll offer, or do you need to make them aware and educate them?
- How will you go to market? As a farm business, you’ll have many options. Will you sell via farmers markets, a farm stand, online with e-commerce, via distributors, to restaurants, via a CSA or buying club, or what? Importantly, is your distribution channel aligned with your chosen competitive advantage? We’ll get to that in a moment.
- What will you sell? These are your revenue streams; your products. So, you want to answer, what products will I sell? How will I price them? How does my pricing strategy compare to competitors and alternatives? Will I have one fixed price per product or product unit (per pound, for instance)? Or will I offer discounted prices for larger orders?
- What is your cost structure? Here you want to ask yourself, what are the critical costs in my model? What are the most important metrics? How will I measure those metrics daily/weekly/monthly? What key resources could increase in cost that I have no control over? Feed costs, for instance. How can I respond if costs increase? What are my fixed costs that I can’t reduce or eliminate? What variable costs can I manage?
- What alternatives are there to you? This is where you assess the competitive landscape. Ask yourself, how do I define my marketplace? Who else offers what I will offer in my marketplace? Those are your direct competitors. It could be a grocery store, even though your farm business looks nothing like a grocery store. Also ask yourself, who are the indirect competitors—the alternative choices my customers have? Who are the potential new competitors that could emerge?
- What determines your success? These are your critical success factors. Here you’ll want to answer, how can I effectively attract customers? Will customers pay the prices I need? Can I navigate regulatory hurdles? Do I have the necessary legal structure, accounting and insurance in place to protect myself? Can I produce a product consistent with the quality I’m promoting? Do I have access to contingency and funding resources should I fail to achieve projections?
- How is your farm business unique? This is your defensible competitive advantage. This is really important and I want you to address this before ever starting a business. Choose your desired advantage, then execute to make it a reality. Here you’ll ask, what is my defensible competitive advantage? By defensible I mean just that. What advantage can you create over competitive forces that you can DEFEND. For example, if you start a local pastured poultry business and offer fresh, pasture raised chickens, can you defend that as an advantage? I’d say, NO, you can’t. Because what’s to stop someone else from popping up and doing the same the moment they see how successful you are. You also want to ask yourself, “am I executing a value strategy (high price, differentiated offering) or a cost strategy (low price, low costs). That’s a hugely critical question because you must choose between the two. Finally, ask yourself this. Why will customers choose me over competing alternatives (other farms, supermarkets, growing their own food, etc)? Why? When you answer these questions, you’ll know your competitive advantage and why you’ll be successful, even before you start. And if you can’t answer them, you’re not likely to succeed.
So, those are the 8 questions. And you can answer each of them and all the sub-questions I just listed on a one-page business plan like the one I’ve created for you.
This plan is important…kind of like the blueprint to your house. It doesn’t mean you can’t refine it later, but I can’t think of anything more important to the success of your farm business than thinking through these key questions and arriving at how you will achieve your competitive advantage.
Again, if you’d like to watch a video of me taking you through this exercise, and get your own free one-page farm business plan template, just hop over to smallfarmnationacademy.com and sign-up for the FREE training series.
I hope you sign up and get it. This one-page business plan will simplify your business strategy and force you to focus on what’s really critical to your success.
Grab it now at smallfarmnationacademy.com, and position yourself to get growing.
Thanks for Listening!
To help the show:
Thanks for listening. Until next time!
Hey there, thanks for joining me again this week.
So, what do most people think of when they think of branding? They think of logos. In fact, many people think that their logo is their brand. Of course your brand is much more than just your logo. Still, the logo design is something that people fret over. And too often, people end up doing a really shabby job themselves, or paying someone else hundreds of dollars to create a logo they don’t really like.
And none of it is necessary. I mean, think about it—why are you creating a logo in the first place? Because everyone else does, right? Or because you just think you’re supposed to. Just like with business planning, you create a complex business plan because everyone else does.
Don’t get me wrong, now I’m not suggesting you shouldn’t have a logo. It can be a very effective branding tool. I’m just saying that many people overthink this one and place WAY more importance on it than it warrants.
Because, remember, It’s your NAME that is your most important brand asset! It’s your NAME you want to brand, not necessarily an icon or graphical element.
However, when done well, graphical elements can help create the brand impression you want, whether fun and whimsical or a serious legacy. But, we don’t want to create unnecessary elements that complicate and confuse your brand.
We want folks to remember YOU AND YOUR NAME…not what you’re wearing.
But that’s exactly where people often go wrong. The name is the important thing. Yet, logos are often designed that don’t showcase the name and firmly imprint it in the customer’s mind.
So let me start by going through 8 sins I see that people commit when choosing a logo design. Here we go.
Mistake #1 is they don’t make the farm name prominent. Remember, it’s the name we want people to silently mouth when they see the logo, to remember. Yet, with so many farm logos you can’t even see the name, especially on a mobile device.
If you do a Google search on “farm logo design” and look at the images, they’re usually templates for you to stick your farm name in. That’s what people often do, even those designers you hire, and it’s a mistake. Because in almost all those templates the farm name is small and overshadowed by other elements. So remember this more than anything else in this episode: YOU MUST MAKE YOUR NAME PROMINENT AND MAKE IT STAND OUT. Why we don’t do this brings me to sin#2.
Mistake #2 is that, pretty much everyone, adds unnecessary graphical elements. I cannot tell you how many times I see this, especially when someone posts their logo design on Facebook and asks for feedback. They create an overly-complex design using standard clipart and stock imagery! They fall in love with the notion of putting little icons or illustrations of sheep, cows, carrots, hills, barns, sunsets, chickens or whatever. Often, they put a bunch of those, stacking chickens on pigs on cows.
All this does is creates a big image of icons with a little farm name underneath it that’s too small to read. When you look at the logo as a whole, what does your mind see and say? It sees a farm scene. That’s not what we want! We want it to see your name.
Look, you don’t need animals or farm icons in your design. After all, your name probably says farm, right? Or creamery, ranch, acres, homestead or something that gives a sense of what you do. That’s the beauty of farming. We don’t have obscure names like Google and Hulu. The name Hulu, by the way, comes from two Mandarin Chinese words. It literally translates to “gourd”, and in ancient times, the Hulu was hollowed out and used to hold precious things.
The point is I had to look that up. I don’t have to look up what “farm” means and neither does anyone else. Heck, even pre-schoolers know what a farm is. So inherent in your name is a description of what you do. You don’t need a big chicken in the design for people to get it.
Now, before you tell me, “well I have to have some graphical element in my design!”, consider this. Let’s take a look at the logos of the top 7 brands in the world.
Those brands are Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Coca-Cola, Amazon and Disney.
What do you see? What stands out?
Apple stands out from the others, because it’s the only one that has a graphical element. Every other logo is nothing more than text!
Google has a market cap of about $800 BILLION, and it’s logo could have (and may have) been created by a young child. Just the letters G-O-O-G-L-E, each in a different primary color. A perfect kindergarten homework assignment.
Facebook is just the letters that comprise it, all in lower case with a boxy font in blue.
We all know the Coca-Cola logo, simply a script font in red letters. And Disney isn’t much different—just a fun font that resembles Walt Disney’s signature. Amazon too is just the word Amazon.com. Sure, today you see that little arrow that connects the A to the Z underneath, but they didn’t have that at first. And mostly what you see with their logo is just their name. amazon.com.
And that’s what you want!
The same thing applies to a bunch of other well-known brands.
Hershey’s is all text. Calvin Klein is all text. Yahoo and Kleenex are all text.
And these have become HUMONGOUS, well-known brands even with simple, text logos.
Yet, for some reason, you think you need a cute logo with all kinds of graphical nonsense to become a “real” business. But all you’re doing is confusing people.
Make your name stand out, and make sure people recall your name.
Mistake #3 is not considering how you’ll use the logo. Another thing I notice about those big-name logos I just mentioned is how horizontal they are. By comparison, I notice many farms create square logos. They do this to incorporate the graphics in the logo. Now, here’s the problem with that. Most of us use our logos most prominently on our websites, in the headers. And horizontal logos look much better in the header and nav bars on websites that square or round logos do.
So it’s really important to consider where you’ll most often use your logo as a branding element. If it’s in your nav bar a horizontal design featuring your name is a good choice.
Now, to be fair, other than Calvin Klein, each of those big-name brands I mentioned is either a single word—such as Google, Apple, Disney or Facebook—or a made to look like a single word in the case of FedEx or Coca-Cola.
By comparison, most farm names tend to be at least two if not three or four words, usually ending in farm, acres, pastures, creamery or ranch. But now you see why this issue of logo design is directly related to creating a name for your farm, which I covered in an earlier episode.
If you think through how you’ll use your logo and conclude it needs to be horizontal, perhaps that will lead you to create a more simple farm name. Like Google Acres (don’t do that).
Mistake #4 is that farms, and many small businesses, often make poor typeface choices. In other words, they pick a bad font that makes the name and/or tagline difficult to read. I don’t need to spend a ton of time on this issue. Just remember that, when in doubt, clarity is the right choice. Choose a typeface that’s easy to read so that people see your name and recall it.
Mistake #5 is poor contrast and questionable color choices. This most often is a sin committed by the do it yourselfer, but you see it also in Fiverr and other cheap logo designs.
Just as you don’t need lots of graphical elements in your logo design (as the worlds largest companies prove) you don’t need lots of colors. Unless you’re Google, I guess.
So, just as you need a clear typeface, you want great contrast in your logo. So don’t make your name in blue and put it on a red background.
Remember, in logo design, it’s ALL ABOUT MAKING YOUR NAME STAND OUT!
Mistake #6 is thinking you can design your logo yourself. This happens all the time and is an insult to high-quality professional designers. I mean, who do we think we are? Have we been graphically trained? Do we have the necessary design tools on our computers—do we have years of experience?
Of course not, in most cases. Yet it seems easy enough so we grab some clip art or icons, slap something together and call it a day.
It’s the same with photography as we all snap smartphone photos of our farm or us as farmers and think we’re photographers.
We are. But we’re not “great” photographers. And we’re not great designers.
So, if you want or need a great design then get a great designer. At a minimum look to 99 Designs or similar quality designers. But—
Mistake #7 is thinking you CAN’T design your logo yourself. I mean, if your logo is going to be only text, as in the case of the world’s largest companies, don’t you think you can pull that off? You can spell your farm name, can’t you?
So just hop on Canva and create a text logo. Choose a font that is consistent with the brand “feeling” you want to convey. And the same with a color. If you’re not sure how to create a color scheme for your brand, head over to coolors.co. There’s a free color scheme generator there that will guide you on how to easily select colors that look great together for your farm brand.
Then just brand your farm name in the form of a logo. Tim’s Turkeys, for example. And be done with it. Finally—
Mistake #8 is thinking the logo design matters more than it does. New entrepreneurs often give this issue WAY more thought than it deserves. Honestly, I think it’s often a stalling tactic—they can’t start their business until they get the logo right. Just like they can’t start until they get the business plan right and so on.
Your brand is important. Your brand name is important. But, if Google can build an $800 BILLION business with a pre-school text logo, why do you think you need something better? If you’re confident with what you’re doing and why you’re doing it, you don’t need to hide behind a logo design.
And if you’re not comfortable, then go back and create your one-page farm business plan.
Now there is one situation where your logo and branding design definitely does matter. And that is on packaging, particularly point-of-sale packaging. So if the packaging is a key part of your sales strategy then, by all means, invest in a strong brand design. And use a professional.
But, that’s not the case for 99% of farms I see. And if it becomes part of your strategy later then deal with it then. For now, just get started with a logo that hammers home your name.
So, here’s what I think you should consider when designing your logo.
- Don’t be afraid to do a text only logo. If Google and Coke can build great businesses with nothing more than that…why can’t you? Clearly, it’s NOT the logo that determines success.
- Try for a horizontal design…or at least consider how it will look on your website. Remember, your name is your most important brand asset. We don’t want it to be so small it’s unreadable in the header.
- And, whatever name you choose, brand it prominently in the design. Let the eyes go straight to your name, and not to any iconic elements. We want your name to take up 80% of the design and not have most of the design be graphical elements, such as animals, plants or something else.
- Finally, consider how your name looks when the logo is small. This is critical because 60% or more of consumers will see your logo on a tiny smartphone screen. And you want your name to pop, so look at this closely.
Now, you’ve heard all this but you’re thinking, “I still want some cute farm icons in my design. I don’t want a boring text-only logo.”
So, how do you know when to add a graphical element to your design? Here are three indicators.
- Because your name or offering isn’t intuitive and an image can help tell the story.
- To better convey your values and mission.
- Or, you’re selling in retail stores where point of sale packaging is important.
If either of those is the case, then go for a graphical design, but, be careful and do it right! That usually means hiring a great designer.
That doesn’t mean you can’t get a great logo for five bucks on Fiverr. In fact, I showed a video lesson in the Small Farm Nation Academy of me doing just that. Getting an awesome farm logo on Fiverr for my fictions farm, Forever Young Farm. And I showed how to do it.
But you’ll have to manage the process the way I did in that video lesson. Otherwise, you’ll get a really bad logo.
Hey—whatta ya expect for five bucks?
Okay, so I’ve separated what’s NOT important with your logo design from what IS important. So if you’re designing a new logo you now know what to focus on.
And if you have an existing logo that commits some of these sins—and I know many of you do—have a new logo designed. And make sure it’s your NAME they remember, and not a piece of cheap farm clipart.
Thanks for Listening!
To help the show:
Thanks for listening. Until next time!
Thanks for Listening!
Hey there, thanks for joining me again this week.
So we’re going to talk about entrepreneurship. Of course, if you start a farm business, or any business, you’re an entrepreneur, right? Because an entrepreneur is a person who organizes and operates a business or businesses and assumes financial risks in order to do so.
One of the most influential books on entrepreneurship is called the E-Myth : Why Most Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About it. It was written by Michael Gerber and first published in the mid-‘80s. The basic premise of the book was that most businesses are started by people with tangible business skills, when in fact most are started by “technicians” who know nothing about running a business. Therefore, most fail.
Now, be honest…when you started your farm, did you think you were starting a business? Or did you think you were just farming?
Gerber’s research with thousands of entrepreneurs led him to discover that entrepreneurs have three distinct personalities, which he calls the Entrepreneur, the Manager and the Technician.
- Essentially, an Entrepreneur changes the business.
- A manager runs the business.
- A technician masters a specific craft.
It’s a very powerful metaphor that, I think, is mostly true. And it’s at the heart of why most farmers struggle greatly with their farming businesses.
Now, as a small business owner, I bet you sometimes feel you have to be at least three people at the same time, right? Just as Gerber said in the e-Myth. This is the case with many professions—here, let’s take the example of a mythical doctor.
Our doctor—we’ll just call him Doc—our friend, Doc, here, wants to start his own practice.
He has extensive education and has devoted years to perfecting his craft.
Ah, but medical schools teach the practice of medicine, not the business of medicine.
So no matter how good a doctor he is, that expertise won’t help him with marketing, managing cash flow, operations, employee relations or any other task critical in creating a successful business.
For the most part, Doc is a highly skilled, highly paid technician.
But what about you? Do you think you’re primarily one personality or the other?
Let’s find out.
Let’s take a look at the three personality types and how they think. Again, the personality types that are trapped inside you are Entrepreneur, Manager, and Technician.
Let’s start with the Entrepreneur. This is your inner visionary. The personality that sees the future first, then endeavors to pave a path from the present to that imagined future.
Our Entrepreneur asks questions like:
- What sort of farm should I start?
- What’s my vision for this farm business? What’s our mission?
- How must this farm business work?
- What will my competitive advantages be?
- How will I go to market?
- I see my long-term vision, so I’ll change what we’re doing now to match that vision.
So the Entrepreneur inside us thinks big picture and long-term. But alongside the Entrepreneur vying for equal attention and influence is our Manager.
The Manager inside us is the personality that creates order out of the Entrepreneur’s chaos and is constantly stressed by the Entrepreneur and Technician.
In a farm business, our Manager personality thinks about things like:
- When can I get an appointment at the meat processor?
- Who do I call to get an egg candling license?
- How do I manage my farm tour?
- I need to arrange a team to process chickens.
- How do I manage CSA orders?
- How do I recruit and manage farm apprentices?
- What’s my breeding schedule look like for the dairy operation?
So when you find yourself asking those kinds of questions or thinking like that, your Entrepreneur is not in charge. Your Manager is.
But there’s yet one more personality hiding inside you, Sybil. And that personality is your Technician.
If you’re a farmer, I fear you know this person all too well. The Technician is the one who lives in the present and doesn’t want to hear about lofty goals. He’s much too busy for that because he’s the “doer”.
How do you know when your Technician is running the show? It’s when you’re thinking:
- What farm chores do I need to do right now?
- How can I fix this irrigation leak?
- I need to weed this afternoon and then repair the fence lines.
- I need to catch up all the chickens for processing.
- The hay needs to be cut and put away.
- I see what we’re doing now on the farm, and I want it to stay that way just the way it is.
- Why do we have to have these farm tours? I don’t have time for this!
I bet you can relate to these three personalities within, the Entrepreneur, the Manager, and the Technician. And, the thing is, we need each of these roles to achieve our entrepreneurial dream.
BUT—Only as long as they get EQUAL time. So you gotta ask yourself—do they?
And, of course, the answer is no. Not by a long shot.
In Gerber’s research, he found that the Entrepreneur inside you gets only about 10% of your time. This personality gets more when you’re dreaming and thinking about starting your business, but you quickly ditch him once you start up.
Then, for a brief moment, the Manager takes over. But the Manager only gets about 20% of a typical business owner’s time.
An overwhelming 70% of the business owner’s time is devoted to the Technician personality.
And that’s a recipe for disaster, for while the Technician knows how to do the work in front of her, she doesn’t hold the vision for or the mission of the business, and she doesn’t have the generalist skills to know how the parts fit together.
Like a Technician in any business, she needs a Manager to assign priorities, tasks, and objectives. Without that, the Technician hits the wall.
In our world, that means she can plant seeds, milk a cow or make some soap, but she can’t figure out how to grow a profitable farm business without becoming a slave to the farm.
Because she doesn’t have that skillset and perspective. So, she just buries her head in the soil and embraces distractions, saying to herself, “I’ve got to collect and clean these eggs, so I don’t have time to figure out our marketing strategy.”
And these are the kinds of things that lead to burnout on the farm, or in any small business.
Now, a big part of the problem is that our Technician buries her head because she thinks she’s not an Entrepreneur. After all, she has no experience as an Entrepreneur.
So, what can she do? What can you do?
You must embrace the fact that, while you are a person, your farm is a business. And it’s a separate entity from you. Because you are not your business.
This is critical to understand because the purpose of your life is NOT to serve your farm business. The purpose of your farm business is to serve your life!
But…to be fair, here’s where some entrepreneurial guru thinking, such as that in the E-Myth, breaks down when it comes to farming.
Most of us were drawn to farming not because we thought of earning money. We were drawn to the lifestyle or simply because we enjoy farm work.
Sure, maybe some of us wanted to get away from our other job, but that’s why we were drawn to the lifestyle.
That’s all well and good, but, remember how I sometimes ask if you have a business or a hobby?
Now you must answer the critical question of which one do you WANT…a business or a hobby.
If you want a hobby and that’s it, you can stop here and just go back outside and play with in the soil with your animals.
But, if you want a business…if you want or need to earn income from your farming efforts, if you want your farm to succeed, you must ACHIEVE BALANCE between your multiple personalities.
And to have a business and avoid burnout, you must take the Technician OUT OF the driver’s seat.
Here’s how to do that. after me.
- Repeat after me… I’M RUNNING A PROFITABLE BUSINESS! THIS IS NOT A MONEY-SUCKING HOBBY! (seriously, say it).
- Schedule two hours every day to work ON YOUR FARM BUSINESS, and not IN IT. You’re going to do that with a tool I have called the TAME THE TECHNICIAN CALENDAR.
- Divide the two hours you’ll work ON your business into 30-minute blocks; 4 blocks each morning
- In each block, have a specific critical task to accomplish or decision to make
- Prioritize business strategy and marketing
- During those two hours, have social media and your cell phone off. Only turn on your phone if you must make a call. No distractions.
- This will still give you at least six-eight hours a day for farm work.
- Devote an hour each weekend to planning your blocks for the following week
Okay, sounds great in theory. But how do you actually do that?
Simple—YOU PUT IT ON THE CALENDAR!
Listen, don’t you put planting dates on the calendar? Calving schedules? Processing dates and times?
That’s your Manager and Technician dominating, and we need them. That’s not the problem.
The problem is your Entrepreneur is asleep, giving us not even 10%.
WAKE UP YOUR FARMPRENERUR by blocking out two hours a day for him to work.
And listen, some of these “Entrepreneurial” tasks we’ll do, such as updating the website, are not at all strategic. They’re tactical.
That’s okay, because as small farmers and small business owners you may very well have to do it all. That’s okay, as long as we recognize what’s happening here.
The Entrepreneur and Manager is in charge, not the Technician.
When you design a lead magnet, the Technician does the work. But you, as Manager, called this meeting, and ensure we stick to a schedule to create, use and promote the lead magnet.
Look, I know this may be difficult to visualize. But I have a great tool here to help you. It’s called Tame the Technician. It’s a PDF that both shows you an example of how to assign a calendar to each of your three personalities, and has a blank, fillable section for you to create your own calendar. Get it FREE at smallfarmnation.com/technician. That’s at smallfarmnation.com/technician.
So, how might you use this tool to allocate time to your manager and entrepreneur?
Okay, let me pull out my Tame the Technician Calendar. Let’s say it’s Wednesday, and I’m going to devote two hours today working ON my business.
I’ve divided these two hours into four 30-minute blocks. I’m going to do two blocks for a total of one hour in the morning, and two more blocks this afternoon.
In the first block this morning I’m going to study menus of top-tier restaurants I’d like to target. And I’ll research the backgrounds of chefs at those restaurants, particularly recent news.
In my second 30-minute block this morning, I’ll write a restaurant call script. Or refine one based on how chefs responded to my last call. Then, I’ll take 10 minutes and rehearse the call aloud with a phone in my hand.
In the two 30-minute blocks this afternoon, I have it on my calendar to call chefs at my next 5 target restaurants. My goal is to arrange a specific time to visit and introduce my products.
That’s it. All that is on my calendar, it’s strategically important to the success of my farm, so it’s gonna get done.
And then I’ll go out and weed, seed, feed and all those things my Technician is clamoring to do.
So look—It’s really important you grab and use this tool because here’s a promise I’ll make to you.
If you do not schedule this important strategic stuff, it will not get done. The technician in you WILL win, he’ll ALWAYS win.
The Technician within you WILL dominate and you’ll spend your time fighting garden pests and pulling carrots for non-existent customers.
So, as an Entrepreneur, you need to hold yourself accountable. There’s not a boss to do that for you anymore. You gotta do it.
Because having a business is a real, serious thing. Just ask the IRS.
It’s why we have LLCs, tax filings, permits and a bunch of other compliance requirements that, while I wish didn’t exist, do.
So since your farm business is a real, serious thing, it needs you to seriously lead and manage the business rather than simply slaving away inside it.
So hold yourself accountable and track how you spend your time,because what gets measured, gets done.
Now, go to smallfarmnation.com/technician, grab the tool and put your Entrepreneur back where he or she belongs.
In charge of your farm business!
To help the show:
Thanks for listening. Until next time!
Hey there, thanks for joining me again this week. So it’s marketing week here on the Small Farm Nation podcast. And 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 surveyed farmers they 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:
- organic and/or non-gmo (or beyond organic)
- grassfed or pastured
- back to the land
- 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)
- stories (case studies, customer stories, etc.)
- press releases and announcements
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!
Big businesses spend a fortune building their brands. But is branding important for your farm business? Today, I’m here to tell you that it absolutely is critical to build your farm brand, and I’ll explain why.
So, let’s start with what I mean by the word “brand” because it’s a word that we hear often, but we may not understand the meaning. I mean, what does the word “brand” mean anyway?
I’ll start with what I don’t mean. I don’t mean branding your cattle. So we’re not talking about that kind of brand. We’re talking about the marketing kind of brand.
Now, sometimes we hear the word brand used in the context of a product name. You know, like Scotch Tape or Dr. Pepper. Dr. Pepper is the recognized brand name. You say you want a Dr. Pepper, but you don’t say the name of the company who makes it.
In fact, I bet you don’t even know who makes it do you? You’re thinking Coke. Pepsi. Two other well-known brand names.
But you’re wrong. Dr. Pepper is owned by Keurig Green Mountain. Yep. Those same guys that make the little single serving coffee pods own your Dr. Pepper. And they own a bunch of other brands you may know, like Hawaiian Punch, Canada Dry, 7 Up, Snapple and a bunch more.
So those are a bunch of brand names. And you may not drink those beverages…I know I don’t. But to those who do, those are more than just names. Those names evoke feelings.
Why my wife, bless her, craves a coke, she’s craving the experience that she associates with that brand. And that gets to the heart of what a brand is.
Simply stated, your “brand” is what people think of when they hear your brand name. It’s everything people think they know about your brand’s offering, whether it be factual, such as 100% grassfed or emotional, such as trying to restore the land.
Okay, so why is it so important for you to have a recognized farm brand.
Let me tell you with word association.
- Quick…what search engine do you use.
- Google, right? Yeah, I know a couple of you are saying, “No smartypants, I use Bing.” Well you can go stand in the corner. Because the answer is Google, and you know it.
- How about this…what coffee shop should we meet at? Did you think Starbucks? I did, and most would, but even if you thought Dunkies, that’s okay, because that’s a great and recognized brand as well.
- What brand do you associate with fast food? McDonald’s of course.
- What’s a brand of soda? Coke.
- Who makes the best smartphone? Apple.
- Where can I buy…anything? The answer is increasingly Amazon.
- And where can we take the kids on vacation? Did Disney come to mind?
I could go on and on, but the point is this. People can only remember so much. And they tend to associate brands with categories.
Don’t believe me? Do you say you want to photocopy something, or Xerox something?
You think one name…no more than two, in each category. At least that’s what’s top of mind for you.
That’s because…these are the preferred brands in their industries.
And that’s exactly what you need to become because brand preference is HUGE.
It’s the difference between you spending countless hours and money chasing customers and you being a category leading magnet that attracts customers.
Just think of what that can mean for your farm?
it’s the difference between a customer thinking “I’ve got to go buy some chicken” versus “I’ve got to get some of Tim’s chicken” for dinner.
Here’s what else it means…
- Customers will seek you out at markets, events and in stores
- Farmer’s market and event organizers will want you
- Chefs will want your name on their menus
- Retailers will want your products on their shelves
- Distributors will want to carry your products
- You’ll attract people, which will help you fulfill your mission
- You’ll have price leverage
- It’ll be easier to hand over or sell your farm business
Your goal must be to become the preferred brand in your DEFINED market. If you don’t, you’ll be forgotten or overlooked.
Notice I said “Defined” market. The question is how will you define the category.
Now, if you’re selling locally, your local geography will partly define your market. But, you’re not competing with all FARMS or supermarkets, because people are buying products from you. They’re not buying your farm.
They’re buying your raw milk, your organic produce, your pastured meats, your local honey. These products they buy are what consumers will associate you with.
And these products, fit neatly into CATEGORIES.
So you’re competing in your CATEGORY. And it’s that CATEGORY that you want to dominate.
Here, think of it this way.
- Coke aims to be the brand leader in soft drinks, not all beverages
- McDonald’s aims to be the brand leader in fast food, not all food, etc.
- Our sample farm aims to be the leader in pastured raised meats in ______ locale.
- Or handmade cheese or soap in the state of Texas.
- And all categories ultimately come down to 1-3 main “players”
- McDonalds/Burger King/Wendys, etc.
- So, if you can’t dominate, you create a new category
So, how do you do that? Try this test.
Even if you’re young, you’ve probably heard of Charles Lindbergh. He was the first person to make a successful transatlantic flight, right?
So…who was the second person? Any guesses?
It was Clarence Chamberlin. What???
Who the heck is that? You see, it doesn’t pay to be #2 in a category.
You’ll be forgotten.
So, if there’s a leader in a category that you ABSOLUTELY can’t get past, what do you do? You create a new category.
Here…who was the third person to cross the Atlantic? Now, you’re thinking that if you didn’t know the 2nd you won’t know the third.
But you do. That’s because a new category was created. When Amelia Earhart became the first WOMAN to cross the Atlantic.
This is why the copycat language I see so often of farm websites is damaging. When a site says it’s non-GMO, beyond Organic, sustainable, heirloom, pastured, blah blah, it sounds like every other small farm website.
And that’s not what we want. We want to create categories we can dominate.
Here’s another example. Taco Bell fell way behind McDonald’s early on, but that didn’t stop them from becoming synonymous with Mexican Fast Food, thereby OWNING a niche category.
And this is something you can do too, whatever your market is.
You want to become the BRAND that falls off the lips, that’s top of mind, whenever someone mentions a particular CATEGORY.
So now let’s go back full circle to make sure we understand what a brand is. And let’s start with what it’s not.
A brand is not simply a logo, a name or your graphics and colors. And it’s definitely not just for big companies either.
A brand is something intangible, right? I mean, it’s not a physical asset…it’s a goodwill asset. When you purchase a business you’re buying more than simply the value of the assets. You’re purchasing that good will, which is almost all attributed to your brand reputation.
Your brand is basically what people FEEL and REMEMBER about you.
So, then what about logo, colors, and graphics? Where does that fit into branding? Those elements serve to VISUALLY CONNECT with the feeling the brand conveys. That’s all.
When I see anything black and yellow, I immediately think of the Pittsburgh Steelers, my team. Those colors represent their brand, but those colors AREN’T their brand. And when I see those colors together I have the same emotional reaction I have when I see the team’s uniforms.
And that emotional reaction is critical in branding because feelings/rationalization drive purchase decisions way more than logic does!
Let me repeat that:
Feelings/rationalization drive purchase decisions, not logic.
Otherwise, why spend over $4 for a cup of coffee?
Why buy a brand new shirt at a department store when a $2 used one from GoodWill will cover your back just as well.
And it’s also why people will go out of their way to buy from a farmer or spend $6/dozen on pastured eggs rather than $2/dozen for cheap industrial eggs.
Or spend over $100 for a Thanksgiving heritage turkey when they could get one for free in many grocery stores.
And, the emotional connection with the farmer and the values they share is why many people will accept unfamiliar items in their CSA box and learn to prepare them.
They’ll to this because emotion trumps logic in almost all purchasing decisions.
They’ll buy that new iPhone because of the feeling that Apple gives them.
And that feeling customers get from your marketing is called your brand promise.
This is what customers EXPECT to experience at all touch points.
So, if you decide in advance what you want people to expect, it will drive your actions, website, email and social media communications and design.
Then, customers expect to experience that same feeling each time they interact with you OR hear about you.
But, listen, there are many things that influence brand perception…it’s not just one thing.
These include the:
- Quality of your product
- Behavior of you and your apprentices or team members
- Your pricing
- How convenient it is to buy from you
- Your packaging (which includes your graphics, website and marketing materials)
- Reviews/media coverage/other’s perceptions
- Your communications
- Your values
So your brand formula boils down to this: it’s who you really are versus how you’re perceived.
And you have to manage that perception with the words you craft, the emotional images you share, the change you represent, the stance you take and so on.
So you see, building a brand is a critical ingredient in the recipe for sustainable business success. But it’s not only for big businesses.
It’s critical for your farm business.
Join the other farmers in the Small Farm Nation Academy and I’ll teach you how to build your farm brand so that you stand out and become THE preferred brand in your market.
Thanks for Listening!
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So what’s the secret to marketing farm and local food products? Today, I’ll tell you, and set you on a solid foundation for marketing your farm and/or food products.
Now, I know you started your business because you’re passionate about food and farming. But, listen, if we produce great food and farm products and there’s no one to buy it, what’s the point?
And this is what I’m all about at Small Farm Nation and in the Small Farm Nation Academy, helping you become not only a master farmer or craftsperson, but a master marketer as well. That way, you’ll attract customers, help build a local food community and become financially sustainable.
So let’s get you on the road to you becoming a marketing wiz.
And let’s start this episode with what marketing is not because I know that many people are inherently uncomfortable with marketing and selling.
Perhaps you are as well, but you don’t need to be.
Let me tell you why.
You see, marketing isn’t….
- Aggressive (used-car) sales tactics
- Convincing someone to buy something they don’t want or need
- Advertising, brochures or email
- A website
- Creative/graphic design
- COMPLICATED OR DIFFICULT
Marketing is something YOU can do, and my goal is to help you do it much more effectively.
Now, what marketing is…is the continual process for you to attract and retain loyal customers.
And I want to emphasize the word “attract”, because when a lot of people think of marketing they think “I want to find some customers,” “how do I find customers.”
And I want you to rethink that.
I want you to start with the notion that you build a business where you become a MAGNET for customers.
A magnet for the media, a magnet for the community, a magnet for followers.
You attract people to you, and you achieve that through building a brand, producing content and converting people from strangers into brand advocates.
As I’ve said many times, without customers you have no farm business, right?
You have a hobby…or a compost pile.
Therefore, marketing has to be your most important job. Period. In building your farm, your restaurant, your winery, your cheese or soap business.
This truth applies equally to landscaping, carpentry, professional services or WHATEVER small business you have.
Marketing is job 1 for the simple reason, no customers, no business.
I mean, don’t get me wrong…weeding, seeding, feeding, breeding…if you’re a baker, kneading, are all important… but marketing is more important to the success of your farm business.
And this is a business, right? We’re not talking about a hobby.
So, since it’s a business it’s about getting and keeping customers.
And listen… YOU CAN DO THIS!
Marketing isn’t the exclusive domain of people who have an MBA in marketing or have a lifetime of experience, I mean, sure, that helps you to understand and be comfortable with what works best, but this is something you can learn yourself.
In fact, you can get your own farm MBA in marketing in my Small Farm Nation Academy, both through lessons I share and from the knowledge sharing that happens in the forums.
Now, one reason I know you can grasp all this is because, food and farm marketing, particularly on the scale we all practice, is ALL about building relationships.
It’s not at all about hard-core sales tactics.
It’s about being yourself and building relationships. But how do you do that?
Well, it starts, believe it or not, with just being yourself. By talking WITH the customer, not AT them. By being conversational.
That will allow you to share your mission…your story, in a way that resonates. And this is where great farm and local food marketing starts. By being open, conversational and sharing your story and mission with PASSION.
It is definitely NOT preaching or talking down to people or telling them why what they’re eating is bad, but inspiring them with WHY you are doing what YOU are doing.
Now, we also need to make it easy for customers to find us. In this day and age it means two things, it means being physically easy to find but also digitally easy to find.
That’s the world of social media and search engine optimization, and you’ll learn all about that in the module on farm web design and elsewhere here on Small Farm Nation.
But we also need to make it easy for customers to buy from us.
That could be anything from having an online store, or accepting credit cards at your farm store or farmers market, or delivering via a CSA or metropolitan buying club.
It could be selling retail cuts of meat versus having to buy a half or whole animal. Just whatever you can to remove the barriers to buying from you.
Remember, while what you’re producing is, I’m sure, far and away better from any industrial alternative, the fact is that the industrial alternatives are far more convenient to buy.
So the more we can do to knock down that barrier, the more attractive you will be to your target customer.
All of these points add up to you being able to attract customers and build relationships.
But, remember, marketing is NOT the goal.
The goal is for…you to achieve customer loyalty and brand preference.
We want customers to seek you out, to ask for you at restaurants and in stores. That’s the goal.
Now, you may be thinking that marketing is complicated and constantly changing, I mean, there’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube there’s SnapChat,
I mean, do I have to do ALL these things?
Do I have to do a Facebook Live session?
Look…Tactics and technology change constantly. Heck, I hate to admit it but I remember when fax marketing was a big deal.
And people were doing fax marketing.
Imagine that, getting a promotional fax! Now, who has a fax machine, other than a lawyer or doctor, I guess. Maybe.
So, these tactics and technologies change all the time, and they will continue to do so.
There will be new ways to reach people five years from now that we can’t conceive today.
Now to help you think about this more clearly, I’d like to share what I believe are the 7 Marketing Traits of Highly Successful Farm Businesses. I thought about the characteristics I’ve observed, so let’s see if this can help you.
The first habit I recognize is that customers feel like they personally know the chef, the farmer, the cheese or soap maker, the wine maker.
In fact, they may not know them…PROBABLY don’t know them.
But they feel like they do. That could be because they’ve heard them on podcasts or they’ve read their blog or they’ve seen interviews about them, so they feel like they know them.
I don’t think WholeFoods, CrowdCow or Blue Apron will ever be able to match your ability to do that.
The second habit is that customers share their values and have a vested interest in their success.
That vested interest could be the consumer’s desire to foster a local food community, or a chef’s desire to establish a sense of terroir, or an organization’s mission to abolish GMO food production, or whatever it may be.
But they have a vested interest in that farm’s success. Therefore, they become cheerleaders, which is habit #3. These loyal customers promote the farm business to their friends, co-workers and family.
These loyal customers also help the farms marketing efforts, by actively defending the farm and its values. The fact that customers stand up for the farm is habit # 4.
If someone critiques the farm’s approach on social media, the cheerleaders are there to offer their insightful perspective.
Of course, great food marketers also deliver very professional service, because they know that’s what their customers are used to. That’s habit #5.
They don’t hide behind excuses like, “we’re just farmers” to set low expectations. No…they’re on time for deliveries, they arrive in clean vehicles, they have orders neatly packaged, they’re dressed professionally and not in dirty muck boots.
In short, every experience the customer has is consistent with the image the farm portrays.
And it goes without saying that the business produces excellent quality, whether it’s the appearance and taste of the heirloom tomato or heritage chicken, or the food on the plate at the farm dinner. Superior quality is habit #6.
All this combines to make the customer feel PROUD…very PROUD of their relationship with the farm business.
Would you like to grab a free copy of my the Guide: 7 Marketing Traits of Highly Successful Farms, Learn how profitable farms attract customers, get publicity and command high prices! It’s yours at smallfarmnation.com/habits
When you add up these 7 habits…these traits, these are the traits of great brands.
And I want to close here because I want you to turn your attention, and your concentration, to building a great brand yourself.
And, listen, you don’t have to be a big company, at all, to build a great local brand.
Sure, you’re building a farm business a food business or whatever, but I want you to focus on building a recognized great brand in your market.
So I’ll be back next week and tell you why it’s so important to build your farm’s brand.
Thanks for Listening!
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