Why your farm’s ideal customer doesn’t matter: Farming Podcast

Reading Time: 6 minutes

In this episode, you’ll learn…

  • Why looking for ideal customers is a waste of time.
  • Why it’s all about YOU and not your “ideal customer.”
  • What to do instead of searching for ideal customers.
  • And lots more.
  • Don’t forget to check out the Small Farm Nation Academy whenever you’re ready to GET GROWING!

Once again I’m thrilled to have the support this week of Farmers Web. They have some awesome software that helps many farmers, so check ‘em out at farmersweb.com

You’ve probably heard how important it is to define and communicate with your ideal customer. So is it? In this episode, I’ll tell you why it’s a waste of time focusing on mythical ideal customers and walk you through what you should be doing, instead!

Enjoy the episode!


Hey there, thanks for joining me again this week. So, I just did a quick Google search on “ideal customer” and got 1.1 million results. And that was by putting “ideal customer” in quotes so that Google only searched for that exact phrase.

What came back was a ton of websites saying things like, “Before you build your product, start to market it, try to sell it, or do anything, frankly… you need to know who your Ideal Customer is.”

Or, “Every entrepreneur should be intensely focused on his or her prospective customers.”

Then another marketing guru says, “Let me ask you a question: who is your ideal customer or client? If your answer is, “Everyone!”, you NEED to read this! Failing to define WHO you serve is a common and costly mistake made by many entrepreneurs so don’t think you are alone in this one!”

And the statements are replete with exclamation points to show you just how serious this issue of understanding your ideal customer is.

Okay, let me reel off a few farming names that you may recognize.

Greg Gunthorp of Gunthorp Farms in Indiana. Paul Grieve of Primal Pastures and Pasturebird in California. Jordan Green of J&L Green Farm in Virginia. Will Harris of White Oak Pastures in Georgia. Curtis Stone, John Suscovich, Greg Judy and Joel Salatin.

Ever heard of any of these folks?

They’re all well known and successful farmers that I’ve interviewed in the past year. Each has started and built what most of us would consider recognizable brands, loyal followers and enviable farm businesses.

And not one started by thinking of their “ideal customer.” I know, because I’ve asked them. Instead, they started by thinking of themselves and what they wanted to achieve. And then they just set out and did it.

Which is exactly what I did with my farm business.

And this is what you should do to, because you didn’t start your farm, or you’re not planning your farm to solve a customer problem, are you? You’re starting your farm or you’re already farming because it’s what YOU want to do. It’s how you want to care for the land, for the environment or for the animals. Or it’s how you want to raise your family.

In that short paragraph, I used the word “you” or “your” 12 times. Why? Because it’s all about you!

And that’s what you should talk about. Because You didn’t set out to serve an ideal customer, did you?

You set out to create something YOU loved. I mean, why did you start your farm business?

Did you do it because you had some mythical dream customer in mind you wanted to serve? Or was it because you wanted to do something YOU loved…something you were passionate about. And then share the result of that with WHOEVER wanted to support you.

Did Apple start this way, with a single dream customer in mind? Amazon? Polyface?

No, of course not, and you didn’t either…

It was your passion, your values that caused you to start a farm business. And it’s that passion you need to put into words, because when you do that effectively, you’ll accomplish two important things.

The first is that your words will inspire and resonate with people. People who will care about your farm and will support you.

The second thing that well-crafted words and images will accomplish is that they’ll cast a wide net. A net that includes anyone interested in what you’re doing ,and why.

And, believe me, you’re going to need that wide net, at least until your operation has matured. Because if you try to guess who your ideal customer is, I can almost guarantee that you’ll be wrong.

Because I’ve never seen an “ideal customer” worksheet that wasn’t a wishlist that mirrored the beliefs of the person who created it.

Think about it. If you created an ideal customer profile, you’d say something like:

You grass fed, so your ideal customer likes grassfed, right?

You value organic, she values organic.

You hate Monsanto, she hates Monsanto.

You care about animal welfare, she cares about animal welfare.

You think raw milk can solve the world’s problems so you figure she does too.

Well maybe that’s true, and there are certainly people out there who share your values.

But that’s my point. There are people who share YOUR values.

That’s why YOU should share YOUR values and communicate them clearly and passionately, rather than guessing what a mythical ideal customer cares about and how to reach her.

Because you’re not going to find her, so don’t waste time looking for her.

Instead, communicate your passion, values and beliefs. Share that on your website, in your newsletter, in your marketing materials and on social media. Get your message out and do so with passion so that you attract followers.

Don’t worry about hunting for customers because it takes a lot of energy and money to hunt for customers.

Your goal is not to hunt for them. Your goal is to attract them. To be a magnet for what you do in your market, so that customers seek you out.

So, how do you do that?

I talked about much of this in my episode, “8 Tips on Building Your Personal Farm Brand.” And that’s really what you want to focus on. Instead of worrying about an ideal customer, do what many of the other farmers I mentioned earlier did and build your personal farm brand.

Start by taking a stand. Whether it’s a stance FOR something (animal welfare, soil fertility, etc.) or AGAINST something (CAFO’s, GMO’s, etc.), take a stand.

But successful farm branders do more than that…they frame their message in such a way that paints a positive outcome for the consumer. In other words, they don’t just “rant” about what’s wrong.

They paint a vision of how the world and its inhabitants could be far better off by pursuing their vision. So people are drawn to them because they are associated with a vision of a better world.

So that’s tip number one…take a stand.

Another thing you see successful farm marketers do is to be consistently “present.”

Whether it’s through a blog, interviews, podcast or social media posts, leaders drive their message home consistently and persistently.

For small farms or one-person shows, this is what blogging, social media and content marketing is all about.  Blogs are very relevant, especially for search engine optimization, so use them. But social media is a great tool as well to engage an audience and facilitate discussion.

And I know many of you aren’t getting much discussion or engagement on social media, are you. One of the reasons why is you’re not taking a stand…you’re not energizing people and giving them something to cheer about, hopefully you and your values, or to stand up against.

If you do that well your ideal customer will come, and she’ll take many forms. Because your ideal customer is one who pays you money and consistently supports you. That’s your ideal customer.

If this makes sense to you go back and listen to that episode called 8 Tips on Building Your Personal Farm Brand and apply the tips in that lesson. Because that’s really your goal, to create a personal farm brand. If you make it all about you and share your values with passion, you’ll find a loyal following.

And that’s the ideal customer you’re looking for.

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Thanks for listening. Until next time!


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