Tackling Technology: Bennington County Producers Learn Effective Social Media Marketing Skills


Branch Out Your Vermont Brand: A Digital Media Workshop Designed To Help Vermonters Thrive

From dairy producers and sugarmakers to tree fruit growers and beef producers, a wide range of southern Vermont agricultural entrepreneurs poured into the beautiful and historic Hildene – The Lincoln Family Home, in Manchester Village. Their mission? Learn new Social Media marketing techniques to help branch out their Vermont brand.

The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets (VAAFM) partnered with Northshire Grows, a nonprofit organization working to bolster the southwestern Vermont food system, to bring in Social Media marketing expert Nicole Junas Ravlin, partner and co-founder of People Making Good PR, a marketing communications firm based in Burlington.

“I love Vermont, I really want to see Vermont thrive, I want to see Vermonters thrive, I want us all to be doing business here, raising families here, growing our businesses and providing for each other… it’s really important that we all work together and row the boat in one direction,” said Ravlin.

PMG PR serves clients across Vermont, all over the United States, in Canada and even Europe. One of PMG’s most recognized clients is Duchy Home Farm, an organic farm started at Prince Charles’ home in England.

While the digital marketing budget for a royal organic farm is likely substantially larger than any Vermont producer could afford, Ravlin explained that the basic concept is similar. Small Vermont business owners can utilize simple, yet effective digital marketing strategies to grow their brand.

First, the discussion focused on identifying who you are trying to reach. Is it the Baby Boomers, Millennials, or GenZ? And then, understanding how to reach that audience on Social Media. Ravlin identified three key platforms every business owner should have a presence on.

1.     LinkedIn

2.     Facebook (business page)

3.     Instagram (business page)

She then explained the best ways to use each application to get the most bang for your buck. The key ingredient - being able to identify the parts of your operation that make you interesting and true to your Vermont roots. Each producer was asked to turn to their neighbors, talk about what they do, and learn from each other as “outsiders” about what’s most interesting. Nicole explained that in most cases, what is most engaging is something the business owners can’t see because they already have a vision of what they are..

With Ravlin leading the charge, the workshop proved very beneficial for the growing agricultural community.

“Branch Out your Vermont Brand was a very welcomed professional development opportunity for the farm and food sector in southwestern Vermont. Excellent feedback has been pouring in about the quality and accessibility of the workshop. Despite the hectic pace of the summer season, over 30 businesses expressed interest and/or attended the People Making Good PR facilitated learning session at Hildene on July 25.  Bennington County and Northshire Grows was thrilled to launch this timely and important VAAFM sponsored technical assistance opportunity for our working lands economy,” said Liz Ruffa with Northshire Grows.

Geared to getting Vermont producers the tools they need to grow their business, the workshop proved useful.

“The presentation was effective, and I made a number of takeaways. I was not aware the Dept. of Ag. was open to sponsoring events like this.  The group you had last night was quite varied with respect to their businesses. It is good to hear presentations sponsored by Dept of Ag about things other than worker protection standards and food safety - not that these are not important,” said Tom Smith, Mad Tom Orchard, East Dorset, Vermont.

If you’re a Vermont agricultural business and would like to see a workshop like this in your area, let the team at VAAFM know. Contact Trevor Audet at trevor.audet@vermont.gov.