Posts Tagged ‘direct farm marketing’


Looking for information on agri-tourism, marketing plans, or direct farm marketing? Three updated factsheets are now available on OMAFRA’s Business Management page:

Developing an Agri-Tourism Operation in Ontario

Are you interested in opening your farm to the public? Does your farm have the potential to integrate agri-tourism into the business? This factsheet discusses what it takes to run an agri-tourism operation, how to define your target market, and the first steps in marketing your business.

Find this factsheet on our website for more information on:

  • The different factors to consider and what it takes to develop a successful agri-tourism operation in Ontario (i.e. physical resources, operations and management, activities);
  • The benefits of identifying your target market and focusing your business on attracting them to your farm;
  • The different types of activities you can offer on your farm (i.e. roadside stands, mazes, classes, bed and breakfast).

This factsheet also poses important questions to ask yourself before opening your farm to the public, including:

  • Do you like dealing directly with the consumer?
  • Are you prepared to spend every weekend during peak season tied to the farm?
  • Are you prepared to accept the liability of having the public on your farm?

After determining if you have what it takes to run an agri-tourism operation and you have defined your target audience, the next step is marketing. This factsheet helps you with the basics of marketing and the importance of public relations and relationship management.

If you and your family are looking at expanding your business into an agri-tourism operation, this factsheet will help you take the first steps.

 Developing a Marketing Plan

If you are looking for information on how to develop a marketing plan or have ever wondered if a marketing plan is necessary, the newly updated Developing a Marketing Plan factsheet is a must-read.

This factsheet provides the basics to developing a marketing plan, starting with defining the 4Ps of marketing: Product, Price, Place, & Promotion. This factsheets then expands into the different steps to take to create a successful marketing plan:

  • Know yourself, your customer, the marketplace
    • Focus on a specific segment or niche market
    • Conduct market research on your customers and competitors
  • Marketing Strategy
    • Where your business is headed, and objectives to meet this goal
  • Implementation Strategy
    • Set out exactly what you will do to meet the needs of your target customers and attract them to your business

After developing a strategy, how are you going to promote and market your product? This factsheet provides a run-down on the different advertising options available to you, including websites & social media, print, electronic, signage, direct promotion, special events, public relations, etc.

Our factsheet provides detailed information on the steps to take when developing a marketing plan, promoting or marketing your product, creating a marketing budget and more.

Direct Farm Marketing in Ontario- A Primer

Have you ever wanted to shift gears and become a price maker, not a price taker? Does direct farm marketing appeal to you? Similar to agri-tourism, there are many different considerations to take into account when entering the direct farm marketing business.

There are different forms of direct farm marketing, including on-farm shops, pick-your-own operations, farmers’ markets, and roadside stands. But they all have something in common: direct consumer relationships.

This factsheet helps you with a number of considerations:

  • What type of consumer will I be targeting?
  • Is your farm located near a population base/market large enough to support the direct farm marketing business?
  • Do you/could you produce a product/service that consumers would be interested in buying through a direct farm marketing channel?
  • Are your family members/employees interested in having direct contact with consumers?

Developing a marketing plan can help answer a few of these questions, and get your business started in the right direction.

Don’t forget about the potential implications of moving beyond primary production and into direct farm marketing and/or value-added agriculture. Regulations covering taxation, land use planning, signage, labelling and public health all need to be taken into account when starting a direct farm marketing venture.

While there are many different factors to consider when starting a direct farm marketing operation, it can be very rewarding for you and your customers. Local food is not a passing trend and there is a lot of opportunity for those willing to invest the time and energy necessary to make it work. For more information on direct farm marketing and how to take the first steps, read more from our Direct Farm Marketing in Ontario- A Primer factsheet.

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Five Reasons to Shop at your Local Farmers’ Market

  1. Strong Sense of Community/Support Family Farmers

Farmers’ markets contribute to a closer and more meaningful sense of community.  They bring community members together for business purposes that are conducted in a social and relationship oriented manner. They are a great method for famers to establish a direct line of communication with consumers and form meaningful relationships.

Farmers’ markets are beneficial to local economies. Consumers spend money within the community and buy locally grown produce instead of purchasing mass produced food that has been transported from thousands of kilometres away. This contributes to the job security of farmers which helps them to remain a successful business in the community. Buying locally grown produce helps to avoid major changes and the loss of farming businesses and farm land.

Farmers can also form mutually beneficial partnerships with other local businesses which help to strengthen the business community, reduce business costs and reach more customers.

  1. Food Quality: Taste Real Flavours

Typically, the food found in farmers’ markets is fresh and high quality. Since the food is grown locally, it spends very little time in transit and in some cases may have often been picked hours before being purchased. This can be compared to the major grocery stores where food often travels for thousands of kilometres over a number of days before reaching consumers. Locally grown food ripens in the field, is picked in season and reaches consumers at its best nutritional quality and taste.

  1. Know Where it’s Coming From

Farmers’ markets allow consumers to ask questions directly to those who are responsible for growing the food. This opens up an important communication and information channel for consumers. It allows them to ask about food quality, the growing process, what was involved with making the food, if chemicals were used in the process and other important questions that may not be easily answered in a grocery store.  Many consumers find this information reassuring at the point of purchase. This interaction builds trust between the farmer and the consumer.

  1. Intimate Atmosphere at the Point of Purchase

Farmers’ markets provide an intimate and fun environment for the whole family. It is unlikely that you will see families go to the grocery store for the day as a family outing. Instead farmers’ markets are often viewed as fun social attractions, which make for good family outings. Many offer fun events or games for entertainment purposes.

A study showed that on average a shopper will have 15 to 20 social interactions at a farmers’ market, compared to one to two at a grocery store.

  1. Adding Value

Farmers’ markets often add a great deal of value to their products in different ways. Value adding to products is any enhancement that helps to increase its economic value. Adding value helps to build customer satisfaction and increase the likelihood of them returning.  A few examples of farmers’ markets adding value to their product include:

  • Add nutritional information
  • Provide recipes
  • Suggest other local attractions in the area
  • Offer fun events (wagon rides or agri-tourism)
  • Small-scale food processing (personal)
  • CSA community supported agriculture (weekly food boxes)

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Direct Marketing Strategies, Part 2

Social Media Strategies

Social media is an important marketing tool that is constantly evolving and it is important to keep up with its changing opportunities. Social media provides farmers with an inexpensive direct two-way channel of communication between themselves and their customers. Social media can be a very useful marketing device if used properly. Here are some tips on using social media effectively:

  • Informative: Get to the point, and tell consumers what they need to hear.
  • Frequency: Frequent posts help to keep your business on your customers’ minds. However, try not to annoy customers to the point where they unfollow/unlike you.
  • Incentives: Offer incentives to customers in return for a follow on Twitter, or a like on a Facebook page. This may cost more money initially, but that constant connection with the customer is important and will pay off.
  • Photos: Try to add in photos where possible. This shows customers what is being sold and good looking food is often hard to resist. Putting in a photo also makes the post appear larger on the news feed, helping to draw attention to it.

Helpful Social media tool: HootSuite is a social media management tool that allows users to schedule and post updates to pages and profiles of social media sites such as Facebook. Hootsuite allows farmers to plan their online posts in advance and stay organized. Additionally, farmers can connect their different social media channels to their website, which is another way to improve organization and save time in the busy summer months.

General Business Strategies

Forming relationships with other local businesses that sell complimentary products can lead to benefits for both parties. Forming business relationships can help businesses:

  • Save costs
  • Reach more customers
  • Form a sense of community

Farmers must make certain that the products their business partners’ sell complement instead of compete with their own products and do not take away potential business.

Consumers prefer locally grown food and buy directly from farmers for a number of reasons, some of which are:

  • Food quality
  • Atmosphere at the point of purchase
  • Intimate shopping and interaction with farmer

It is important to provide these three listed attributes because this is what makes the direct selling experience unique and helps to ensure differentiation.

Adding value to the products being sold is another method to form a connection with consumers and to keep them coming back. Methods of adding value include:

  • Offer more than just the product (include recipes, suggested uses)
  • Add nutritional information
  • Suggest other local attractions in the area
  • Have fun events (Wagon rides)
  • Build infrastructure (Shelters)

These social media and general business strategies will help to ensure that farmers have the opportunity to meet with their customers face-to-face. Through this interaction farmers can form meaningful connections and hopefully instill brand loyalty among customers.

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Direct Marketing and Brand Loyalty, Part 1

As the warmer months approach farmers are presented with new opportunities to better connect with their customers. These connections could help farmers to form meaningful and long lasting relationships. Some methods used to form these connections with customers include:  roadside stands, on-farm shops, pick your own produce and participation in farmers’ markets.  These types of selling methods give farmers the opportunity to personally interact with customers and to directly market themselves and their products.

If done right, these selling methods will help to ensure a strong relationship between farmers and their customers. A strong relationship will help farmers to retain customers and create brand loyalty. There are many benefits to instilling brand loyalty among customers.

On average brand loyal customers makeup approximately 80 per cent of a company’s business, so retaining these customers should be a priority. It is three to five times more expensive to replace a brand loyal customer than to retain one.

Brand loyal customers are a huge aspect to any business and direct marketing is a great way of retaining current loyal customers and to create brand loyalty among new customers. In order to create the opportunity for face-to-face interactions (direct marketing) customers must be aware of your product and where it is sold. Social media and other forms of marketing present farmers with an opportunity to build brand and product awareness.

How to Directly Market Your Product

Customers must be aware of when and where products are sold and social media can play a large role in giving customers constant updates on product availability. Different social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter and blogs provide an important opportunity for a two-way communication channel between farmers and customers. These social media channels allow farmers to provide instant and up-to-date information. A consistent online presence with regular product updates will help to remind customers of your business and its quality products and services. In attempts to create and maintain relationships with customers farmers should:

  • Create a customer database (Customer Information)
  • Provide frequent social media updates
  • Educate customers
  • Listen to customers
  • Create customer surveys (For feedback)

Farmers should always attempt to put their customers first by focusing on their satisfaction and forming personal connections. Farmers should interact and engage with customers, entertain them and educate them about agriculture and their business. Forming these personal connections will help build relationships and lead to brand loyalty.

Another method to improve customer satisfaction involves reviewing customer complaints. Complaints should be looked at as an opportunity to improve the brand, service or product. Complaints that are addressed and corrected on the spot have an average customer retention rate of 82 per cent. This further illustrates the importance of customer service and direct interactions with customers.

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Learn from pork producers who use direct marketing. Ontario pork producers from The Whole Pig and Thatcher Farms will share how they’ve built their businesses and what they’ve learned along the way, making it easier for you to start or improve your direct sales business.  Staff from Ontario Pork and OMAFRA will also offer resources they have available for you.

Join us for this lunch hour webinar.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Noon to 1 p.m.


To register, contact the Agricultural Information Contact Centre (AICC):

Toll-Free : 1-877-424-1300

TTY : 1-855-696-2811

Email : ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca


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Seeds for Success: Enhancing Canada’s Farming Enterprises

The Conference Board of Canada, 61 pages, June 2013

Report by Erin Butler, James Stuckey

The modern farming landscape is changing. This report considers the state of farming business in Canada, and how it can be improved to achieve greater economic and social value.

Document Highlights

Farming in Canada has deep roots and traditions, but the sector undergoes significant changes: the old ways of doing things are no longer guarantors of success. Seeds for Success: Enhancing Canada’s Farming Enterprises explores the modern realities of farming business, and how it can be bolstered to achieve even more of the economic and social value that consumers expect. The report reveals that Canada’s farming sector is increasingly dynamic, presenting new opportunities, as well as risks and challenges. Although farmers have long been skilled at managing the growth of crops and livestock, they must now also be increasingly skilled at managing their businesses. This report considers the farm management issues facing farming today.

More details and to download the report>>

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The following three Excel based margin calculators are now available as free downloads at http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/busdev/directfarmmkt/index.html   which allow producers to compare and calculate their margins for selling directly to consumers:

  • The Performance Analysis by Marketing Channel spreadsheet allows users to calculate or compare

margins across six distinct market channels:

  • Roadside stand
  • On-farm market
  • Pick your own/U-pick
  • Farmers’ market
  • Community Supported Agriculture
  • Online store/delivery service
  • The On-Farm Processing Recipe Based Costing Tool allows users  to analyze the impact of changes in recipe, ingredient costs or packaging size on product margin for value added products such as baked goods, preserves etc.
  • The Cost of Meat Processing Tool allows users to calculate the cost of meat processing per meat product by summarizing the costs of animal transport, slaughter, further processing into cuts transport cost for meat pickup.

The Business Management Unit of the Agriculture Development Branch has worked with University of Guelph staff to develop this information resource.

This project was funded through Growing Forward, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative.

Contact: Carl Fletcher, Strategic Business Planning Program Lead, carl.fletcher@ontario.ca

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