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.
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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.

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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.

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Thanks for listening. Until next time!

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