October 14, 2022
Marketing. For many, it's a necessary evil of running a business. Chances are, if you’re a farmer, you didn’t get into this work to design logos and write copy for social media posts. You farm because you find the work deeply meaningful. You like to have your hands in soil, you want to spend your days outside caring for the land, you want to feed your community, or carry on a family legacy.
While sales and marketing might sometimes feel overwhelming, or like a distraction from the work you truly want to be doing, the passion you have for your work gives you an advantage in one of the first and most essential steps in creating an effective marketing strategy - and it’s one that’s often overlooked. Starting with this step will serve as your “north star” when outlining your marketing strategy. It will help guide you to the next right step, narrow your focus, and reduce overwhelm so you can focus on what matters most.
Determining Your “Why”
Your “why” is your unique reason for doing what you do. It’s your motivation to get out of bed each morning. It’s the people you want to serve. It’s the sense of meaning you bring to your work and the difference you want to make in the world. You need to get clear on your unique reason for doing what you do before you can effectively choose where and how to market your products.
Knowing your “why” can help determine your farm name, your logo design, the “voice” you use in your writing, the social media platforms you use, where you advertise, the channels through which you want to sell, and much more.
For example, maybe you’re a young farmer who grew up in the city and now you want to connect young families in urban areas back to their food and to nature. One of the first things you might do when starting your farm is create a Facebook page. It’s almost automatic at this point. Everyone does it, right? But it’s important to stop and think about why you are actually doing this. Why are you choosing this particular platform? How does Facebook serve your particular mission? Who are you reaching there and is it really who you want to be reaching?
Young parents (often millennials) are much more active on Instagram than on Facebook. Instagram will give you the opportunity to connect and share your story with your target demographic. In this case, you might also decide to do a weekly CSA delivery or farmers market in the city, rather than set up a farm stand in your rural town.
Leading with your “why” can help you reach who you want to reach, but it also helps avoid unnecessary work. You don’t need to do it all, especially in the beginning. Use your “why” do determine the best place to start, master it, then add in something else - if and when it fits your strategy and capacity.
What’s your “why?”
Thanks for reading the first edition of the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets' Marketing and Agritourism Blog! I’m your host, Kristen Brassard. I’m an Agriculture Development Specialist focused on marketing and events for farm and food businesses. I graduated with a master’s degree in Food Systems from the University of Vermont in 2021 and have nearly ten years’ experience in marketing and events planning. Stay tuned every other week for tips on marketing and incorporating agritourism practices on your farm. Next time, we’ll dive deeper into your “why” by determining your farm’s mission, vision, and values. Be sure to sign up for our weekly Agricultural Development Newsletter so you never miss a post!