Marketing for Profit: Tools for Success

Final Report for ENE11-118

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2011: $106,847.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2014
Region: Northeast
State: New York
Project Leader:
Diane Eggert
Farmers Market Federation of NY
Expand All

Project Information

Summary:

Farmers are known for producing the food we all eat. But to be profitable, farmers must not only have production skills, they must all be good marketers. But to most farmers, marketing is an esoteric field and many have difficulty knowing exactly who they want to reach, how to reach them and what message will resonate with the audience and result in increased sales and revenue. In Discussions and surveys, farmers’ market managers and Extension Educators indicated that many farmers they work with lack basic marketing skills and “leave money on the table.” Many educators also indicated they lacked adequate knowledge to feel capable of teaching marketing techniques to farmers. While general marketing information exists in libraries and online, there was little information to translate those skills into practical lessons for farmers to use in direct-to-consumer sales.

 

Marketing for Profit: Tools for Success created a full marketing curriculum for direct marketing farmers that was presented to 125 Extension educators and other agricultural service providers and 395 farmers through a series of webinars covering 5 key assessments: self-assessment, market, customer, communications and business, with each assessment covered over 3 workshops. Each recorded webinar was translated into 3 separate learning opportunities for farmers and Extension Educators. First, the webinars were uploaded into an online learning platform, where farmers could earn Certificates of Achievement as they learned marketing skills and completed homework assignments designed to help them implement key lessons within their farm business. Second, the webinars were translated into a written handbook for those who learn best by reading. The handbook was published online for easy and free access to all. Finally, an educator curriculum was developed to provide Extension Educators and other farm trainers with ready-made workshops. The materials could be used to provide farmer workshops or facilitate one-on-one work with farmers to improve their marketing strategies.

 

The numbers of participants in each of the learning mediums demonstrated the need for marketing training for direct marketing farmers. In addition to the 520 webinar participants, the online learning platform was accessed and utilized by 368 people, 241 of whom were referred there by Extension educators, and 215 Extension Educators across the country accessed the Educator curriculum.

 

Fifteen Extension educators who responded to a survey about their use of the curriculum materials indicated they planned to use them with farmers. Two Extension educators presented case studies of their marketing workshops for 26 farmers and 65 market managers. Over 67% of 111 farmers who responded to surveys about their use of the Marketing for Profit concepts indicated they made changes to their farm’s marketing strategies as a result of the lessons learned, and they felt the lessons learned had a positive impact on their farm’s revenue. Changes farmers made included: increasing/improving signage, developing a marketing message, identifying a target customer, creating a marketing/business plan, increasing customer communications and developing/following a pricing strategy.  

 

All webinars, the online learning platform, the Marketing for Profit: Tools for Success handbook and the Educator curriculum are permanently housed on the Farmers’ Market Federation of NY website and will remain available, free of charge.

Performance Target:

150 farmers will use the training received to enter at least one new marketing venue and/or employ new marketing techniques and strategies within their direct marketing venues, achieving revenue increases averaging $10,000 per farm.

Introduction:

Marketing is defined as “…everything you do to promote your business, from the moment you conceive of it to the point at which customers buy your product or service and begin to patronize your business on a regular basis.”[1] This sounds simple, but it encompasses a broad array of efforts all aimed at identifying your market and customers, satisfying your customers and maintaining your customers long term. It includes all marketing channel selections and business decisions, what to grow or produce and how it will be produced; i.e. conventional, organic, bio-dynamic or some amalgam of these; how you choose to make products available, how product is presented to the public, how you present your business, advertising and promotions, signage, pricing strategy, and so on. Marketing is complex and is often the most misunderstood and least successful part of many farm businesses.

 

Farmers mostly see themselves as producers. It’s what they do best and what they have chosen as their profession. They will decide the best methods of farming, and the crop mix that will help them to achieve their production goals and revenue requirements. They understand and follow all statutory regulations impacting their operation, comply with labor law and file mounds of paperwork. But farmers are often not skilled in marketing choices, techniques and strategies that will create the relationships with their customers that will ensure successful sales and improved farm profitability. Often they fall under the “Field of Dreams” spell, “Build it and they will come.” However, this is rarely the case in real life. Instead, farmers must acquire expertise in customer relations and marketing.

 

Cooperative Extension functions to support farmers. They have significant expertise in production techniques, soil health, pest and disease issues, and regulatory knowledge. But often, they lack relevant, updated, real-world marketing expertise. While Extension educators can point farmers in the direction of a variety of marketing channels available to them, they often lack a complete knowledge of each channel to help the farmer analyze the options and make choices that are appropriate for the farmer and his family to meet the goals for the farm. In addition, once the marketing venues are chosen, Extension educators often lack the broad-based marketing knowledge that will help farmers to develop skills, techniques and strategies that will help them to be successful in direct-to-consumer marketing.

 

The Farmers Market Federation of NY conducted a survey of 168 Cornell Cooperative Extension Educators and Farmers Market managers asked about the proficiency of direct-to-consumer marketing skills among the farmers they work with. Of the respondents, 51% indicating at least some of the farmers needed assistance with their marketing skills, while 42% said most of the farmers they work with require additional marketing skills. In other words, most Extension Educators and Farmers Market managers felt that the marketing skill level of their farmers meant that the farmers were “leaving money on the table.” The potential for sales was greater than what was being earned and the reason was the lack of understanding in strategic marketing management and developing customer relationships that would result in increased sales.

 

If training sessions were available, 80% of Extension Educators and Farmers Market managers were willing to participate and transfer the knowledge back to their farmers. Also, if marketing fact sheets and Guidebook were available, 86% would use those materials to educate and assist their farmers to gain a better understanding of direct-to-consumer marketing and strengthen their farm revenue. Among Extension Educators surveyed, 52% would host regional trainings for farmers, while 54% would work one-on-one to assist farmers to improve their marketing skills and implement new marketing techniques and strategies at the farm level.

Cooperators

Click linked name(s) to expand
  • David Grusenmeyer

Educational Approach

Educational approach:

Marketing for Profit: Tools for Success was established to help farmers understand and implement key marketing techniques and strategies that would help them build a loyal customer base and increase farm revenue. Further, an educator curriculum was developed to assist Extension Educators and other service providers to work with farmers in their region on marketing skills.

 

Using an advisory team of Extension Educators, marketing professionals and farmers, a marketing curriculum was developed using 15 workshops centered around 5 key concepts.

  • Self-Assessment
  • Market Assessment
  • Customer Assessment
  • Communications Assessment
  • Business Assessment

Using a “Marketing University” model, each assessment was built out with 3 sessions; beginning (101), intermediate (201) and advanced (301) concepts to ensure each participant had a full understanding of each assessment.

 

In preparing learning tools, the project leadership team recognized that people learn through different methods and provided a variety of means to impart marketing knowledge to Extension Educators, agri-service professionals and farmers. To initiate the learning, webinar trainings were developed for each of the 15 sessions. The webinars were led by experts for each of the topics. Attendees were Cooperative Extension Educators, agri-service professionals, farmers’ market managers and farmers from across the country and parts of Canada. Question and answer sessions within each webinar were encouraged to ensure each of the participants fully understood the topic.

 

Each of the 15 webinars were recorded and uploaded to an online learning platform at moodle.com. The leadership team created Q & A documents and a Glossary of Terms to accompany each of webinars. Additional resources were identified and added to each of the modules and webinars. Finally, the project leaders developed homework assignments and quizzes to accompany each of the webinar sessions. Once a participant completed the full series of webinars online and completed all homework assignments, they would have gathered all the ingredients to prepare their own farm business and marketing plan. To further encourage greater participation, the leadership team made arrangements with Farm Service Agency to provide borrower training credits to all who successfully completed the full online curriculum.

 

Some people learn best by reading the material rather than listening to a speaker. A written manual, covering all 15 workshops in the Marketing for Profit: Tools for Success program. The manual is available for download on the Farmers Market Federation of NY website http://www.nyfarmersmarket.com/view-course-materials/. Press releases, email blasts and list serve notices were distributed to make Extension Educators, agri-service professionals and farmers aware of this free marketing manual.

 

Others learn with direct contact with a teacher who is able to give more personal attention to the learner. We recognize that key teachers in the farm community are Cooperative Extension Educators. To help them present the marketing for profit tools for success lessons, the project leadership team prepared an educator curriculum that would give them ready-made teaching tools. Each of the webinar presenters provided their PowerPoint presentations to the team. Speaker notes were added to each PowerPoint to allow instructors to have accurate information to depart to their students, whether beginning farmers, experienced direct marketers or farmers’ market managers. Along with the PowerPoint presentations with speaker notes, each session was accompanied by the same homework assignments and quizzes used in the online learning platform. In addition, documents listing additional resources were included in the training curriculum. The full curriculum, including the PowerPoint presentation and all related documents is available on the Farmers Market Federation of NY website,http://www.nyfarmersmarket.com/request-course-materials/.

 

[1] Levinson, Jay Conrad. “Guerrilla Marketing: Secrets for Making Big Profits From Your Small Business. Houghton Mifflin Company, New York. 1993

Milestones

Milestone #1 (click to expand/collapse)
Accomplishments:

Publications

  • 300 Cooperative Extension Educators, farm service leaders and farmers will learn the dynamics, skills sets and requirements for participation in a range of marketing channels, such as farmers markets, on-farm stands, agri-tourism, wholesale to supermarkets, wholesale to institutions, restaurant marketing, and CSA’s.

 

The first phase of the Marketing for Profit: Tools for Success project was to complete a series of webinars covering a wide range of marketing lessons. The webinars were organized into 5 main modules with a unique theme, with each theme being taught through a series of three sessions. A series of press releases, email blasts and list serve postings reached farmers, farmers market managers and organizations, Extension Educators and agri-service professionals. The webinars were given over the winter months in 2012, 2013 and 2014 to stay within the off-farming months. Each session was done twice to ensure the greatest level of participation possible. During the first winter, the project used gotowebinar.com for the presentations and attendees called into to a conference call line for the audio. This resulted in significant audio difficulties, as well as the inability to record the webinars and resulted in dropped attendance. For years 2 and 3, the project switched to VOiP and audio difficulties disappeared.

 

Overall 520 individuals participated in the webinar trainings. Some participated in each session, while others participated in the sessions that held meaning for their farm. Attendance was diversified, as seen in the chart below.

 

 

Numbers

Percentage of Audience

Extension Educators

64

12%

Agri-service Professionals

45

9%

Government Agency Reps

16

3%

Farmers/Markets

395

76%

 

Finally, as each webinar was concluded a recording was uploaded to the Federation website, http://www.nyfarmersmarket.com/view-marketing-for-profit-webinars/. It was also uploaded to YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCCZQ-B8g5G3EEBrbUnVzG2w. This allowed for additional farmers, Extension Educators and agri-service professionals to view the presentations.

 

  • 100 Cooperative Extension Educators hosted meetings will educate and assist regional farmers in identifying far-appropriate marketing venues.

 

The project team created a written curriculum to be used by Extension Educators and agri-service professionals in workshops with the farmers in their region. Speaker notes were added to each of the powerpoint presentations to allow Educators to easily and accurately present the material. In addition, the curriculum included: Q & A from the webinars, glossaries, session assignments, and quizzes. A “Curriculum Overview” for each of the 5 Assessments was created to provide Educators with the objectives of each assessment, identify the target audience and time required for each component, along with providing a lesson plan and a series of handouts and additional resources.

 

The written curriculum was placed on the Federation website for easy access to anyone wanting to use the materials at http://nyfarmersmarket.com/marketing-for-profit-online-materials/. Upon issuing press releases and list serve announcements, over 200 Extension Educators accessed the curriculum as of April 30, 2015.

 

 

  • Through a series of webinars, 500 Extension Educators, farm service leaders, farmers’ market managers and farmers will learn techniques and skills required for successfully marketing farm products direct to consumers.

 

Through participation in the webinars, we have reached 520 unique individuals. The participants have been scattered throughout the US, including Hawaii, and Canada. It has been a mix of Extension educators, farmers, farmers’ market managers, farm educators and non-profits.

 

But the reach has far exceeded the 520 individuals participating live with each webinar. After each webinar was concluded, a recording of the presentation was archived on the Farmers Market Federation website, http://www.nyfarmersmarket.com/work-shop-programs/webinars/view-past-webinars.html. They are also uploaded onto YouTube. As of April 30, 2015, there were 2157 views of these webinars from these locations, indicating a significant interest in learning farm marketing skills by both farmers and farm educators.

 

Workshop

Webinar Participants

On-line Viewing

Assessing Your Identity

45

721

Exploring Marketing Channels

26

Where Are We and Where do We Want to Be

24

Learning to Look Around, or, Getting Your Head in the Game!

102

341

How smart ARE you, Really?

107

257

Building the Marketing Plan

120

264

People Sure Are STRANGE! Coming to understand the consumer

106

166

BOGOs, Bounce Backs and the cost of freebies! Promoting the Product

83

148

Every Silver Lining has a Cloud! – Market assessment & Analysis

76

98

How to Say what we mean and mean something! Communication Assessment

80

98

You are what you Look Like! Preparing the Product

50

64

You are what they THINK you are! Selling the Product

44

41

Keeping an Eye on Your Customer

46

11

Putting a Handle on the Tomato

48

24

Drudgery that Pays Well!

34

31

Total attendance

991

2264

 

The project morphed from its inception. Instead of just being a series of webinars to educate Extension Educators, farm service leaders, farmers’ market managers and farmers to learn marketing techniques and skills, the project branched out to provide a variety of means to educate the target audience. The information could be imparted by participation in the webinars; at one’s own pace through the online course, by participating in regional workshops hosted by Extension using the program curriculum and through a written manual covering the entire curriculum. The manual is on the Federation website at http://www.nyfarmersmarket.com/view-course-materials/.

 

  • Webinar participants, New York’s Cornell Cooperative Extension offices, and New York’s farmers’ market managers will receive a direct marketing manual, developed through the information and resources offered through the webinar series.

 

The webinar series of marketing workshops was translated into a written handbook to accommodate those who learn best by reading the materials for themselves. Rather than putting the handbook on a disk and mailing a copy to each Extension Educator and other webinar participants, it was determined that an online distribution would be more effective. Extension educator turnover is high and a CD of the manual is apt to not make the transition to new staff. An online version will be permanently housed on the Farmers Market Federation of NY website, allowing access to the information well beyond the life of the grant. Therefore, the handbook was uploaded to the Federation website, http://www.nyfarmersmarket.com/view-course-materials/. A series of press releases, email blasts and list serve posts were made to announce the availability of the handbook.

 

Many of the Extension Educators participating in the webinars indicated they would not plan to use the presentations at farm meetings until the full series is complete. Others have indicated that they do not feel comfortable with the topic to give the presentations, even with the PowerPoint and speaker notes being provided to them. For these reasons, and to facilitate farmer requests, the leadership team added an online learning component to the project. With a partnership with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Broome County and Cornell University, the entire curriculum was uploaded to an online learning program, Moodle, under the Cornell account. The Moodle program provides the full five categories of marketing – each webinar and supporting documents. The documents include:

  • Glossary of terms used within the presentation
  • Q & A based on the webinar presentations
  • Resources to learn more information about the topic
  • Online forum for topic discussion
  • Homework assignment; with a goal that the completion of all homework assignments will net the participant a complete business and marketing plan
  • Quiz

Each participant completing the full course will receive a Certificate of Achievement. In addition, we received accreditation from Farm Service Agency to provide farmers who complete the full program to earn borrower credits on loans through the Farm Service Agency.

 

The Moodle program was uploaded and launched in November 2013. By the end of the project, April 30, 2015, 368 people had registered for the Moodle course. When added to the numbers participating in the webinars, the project exceeded the level of 750 farmers educated in direct marketing techniques.

 

 

  • Performance Target: 150 farmers will use the training received to enter at least one new marketing venue and/or employ new marketing techniques and strategies within their direct marketing venues, achieving revenue increases averaging $10,000 per farm.

 

Through the evaluation at the end of the project, farmers indicated that they learned valuable lessons from the Marketing for Profit: Tools for Success project. Many indicated they have implemented changes to their farm’s marketing strategies or plan to implement changes. But those who experienced increased income did not feel comfortable attributing the added income strictly to the marketing lessons they learned. They felt that it was a variety of factors that explained their added revenue, including increased experience, networking with other farmers at farmers markets and conferences, increased interest in local food among consumers and increased promotion and advertising by farmers market managers.

 

Instead of an increase in income, the leadership team looked at the changes that farmers reported making to their farm’s marketing strategies that were a result of the marketing workshops. Most farmers responding to the evaluation indicated making at least one positive change to their marketing plans and strategies as a result of the project. Most changes involved better promotions for their farms – logo, branding, signage, targeted advertising, etc.

Performance Target Outcomes

Performance target outcome for service providers narrative:

Outcomes

The project reached out to farmers, agri-service providers and Extension Educators all across the country through a variety of means: press releases, email blasts and list serves, both NY-centric as well as national. As a result of the extensive outreach, the project had great success in bringing people to all learning mechanisms.

 

The series of webinars successfully reached a national audience with attendees from many states across the US, as well as Canada. The audience was equally diverse in terms of their involvement in agriculture. Each webinar presentation was given twice, once during daytime work hours and once in the evening, with the goal to make the presentation accessible to as many potential attendees as possible. The webinars were attended by 520 individuals, some attending each workshop, while others chose only those webinars where the subject matter resonated with their individual needs. The make-up of the audience can be viewed in the chart below.

 

 

Numbers

Percentage of Audience

Extension Educators

64

12%

Agri-service Professionals

45

9%

Government Agency Reps

16

3%

Farmers/Markets

395

76%

 

Once the webinars were concluded, the leadership team prepared each presentation for the online learning platform, moodle.com. This included uploading a recording of the webinar presentation, a Q & A document derived from the live webinar; a glossary of terms relating to the topic; a listing of additional resources, were applicable; a homework assignment and a quiz. As with the webinars, a series of press releases, email blasts and list serves were used to promote the online curriculum for Marketing for Profit: Tools for Success. In addition, sell sheets to promote the online curriculum were created for the leadership team to use at trade shows and other meetings to promote the program. As a result, 368 people registered for the online program, as of April 30, 2015. We found that the online training was being widely supported by Extension Educators and agri-service professionals, as they figured heavily in bringing attendees to the program. Of the 368 registrants, 159 (43%) were referred to the online program by Extension Educators and another 82 (22%) were referred by agri-service professionals.

 

To further assist Extension Educators and Agri-service Professionals with the marketing lessons, the leadership team created a full curriculum for their use in workshops for the farmers in their own counties and regions. The curriculum included the powerpoint presentation, complete with full speaker notes, as well as the documents included in the online curriculum: Q & A; additional resources, homework and quizzes. The curriculum was placed on the Federation website at http://www.nyfarmersmarket.com/request-course-materials/. As of April 30, 2015, 215 Educators have accessed the curriculum. While the response to the survey asking how the materials were used was weaker than anticipated, (28 of 194 educators surveyed responded), 15 of those responding plan to use the materials to present workshops for the farmers in their regions. Two Extension educators provided case study reports (attached below) about their workshops for 26 farmers and 65 market managers.

 

Recognizing that many learn best when they can read the material and follow at their own pace, a writer was hired to translate all the webinar presentations in an easy-to-follow handbook. Again the handbook was uploaded to the Federation website,http://www.nyfarmersmarket.com/view-course-materials/. As of April 30, 2015, over 100 people have accessed the handbook.

 

Knowing how many have accessed the materials does not tell the whole story. The leadership team sent evaluations to 432 farmers who attended webinars and enrolled in the Moodle online course to see how these materials were being used; 111 farmers responded. First we looked at key marketing concepts:

 

 

Concept

In place before webinars

In place as a result of the webinars

Will put in place in the future

Marketing Plan

57%

29%

14%

Business Plan

71%

14%

14%

Logo/tagline

86%

14%

0

System to track finances

43%

43%

14%

System to track customers

43%

43%

14%

Online presence

71%

14%

14%

 

Farmers were encouraged to learn marketing lessons, whether by webinar, online, through the handbook or by Extension workshops. Afterward, they were asked about what changes they had made to their farm’s marketing strategies as a result of the lessons learned. This was used as a measure of the project’s success as most farmers indicated that they did not feel comfortable attributing increased income as an exclusive result of the marketing lessons learned.

 

 

Changes made to farm’s marketing strategies

Percent of respondents making the change

Increased and/or improved signage

67%

Developed a marketing message

50%

Identified a target customer

50%

Created a Marketing plan

33%

Created a business plan

50%

Increased and/or employed customer communications

50%

Created a CRM strategy

17%

Identified and implemented product positioning

33%

Created a logo and tagline

17%

Developed and followed a pricing strategy

50%

 

To further demonstrate the project results, the leadership team collected case studies from Extension educators using the marketing materials in their work with farmers, as well as farmers who participated in the program.

 

Extension Educators:

            Jarmila Haseler, Cornell Cooperative Extension, Wayne/Monroe Counties

            Laura Biasillo, Cornell Cooperative Extension, Broome County

 

Farms:

Delaney Farms, Syracuse, NY

Oneida County Public Market, Utica, NY

North Windsor Berries, Windsor, NY

Additional Project Outcomes

Project outcomes:

  • 300 Cooperative Extension Educators, farm service leaders and farmers will learn the dynamics, skills sets and requirements for participation in a range of marketing channels, such as farmers markets, on-farm stands, agri-tourism, wholesale to supermarkets, wholesale to institutions, restaurant marketing, and CSA’s.

 

The first phase of the Marketing for Profit: Tools for Success project was to complete a series of webinars covering a wide range of marketing lessons. The webinars were organized into 5 main modules with a unique theme, with each theme being taught through a series of three sessions. A series of press releases, email blasts and list serve postings reached farmers, farmers market managers and organizations, Extension Educators and agri-service professionals. The webinars were given over the winter months in 2012, 2013 and 2014 to stay within the off-farming months. Each session was done twice to ensure the greatest level of participation possible. During the first winter, the project used gotowebinar.com for the presentations and attendees called into to a conference call line for the audio. This resulted in significant audio difficulties, as well as the inability to record the webinars and resulted in dropped attendance. For years 2 and 3, the project switched to VOiP and audio difficulties disappeared.

 

Overall 520 individuals participated in the webinar trainings. Some participated in each session, while others participated in the sessions that held meaning for their farm. Attendance was diversified, as seen in the chart below.

 

 

Numbers

Percentage of Audience

Extension Educators

64

12%

Agri-service Professionals

45

9%

Government Agency Reps

16

3%

Farmers/Markets

395

76%

 

Finally, as each webinar was concluded a recording was uploaded to the Federation website, http://www.nyfarmersmarket.com/view-marketing-for-profit-webinars/. It was also uploaded to YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCCZQ-B8g5G3EEBrbUnVzG2w. This allowed for additional farmers, Extension Educators and agri-service professionals to view the presentations.

 

  • 100 Cooperative Extension Educators hosted meetings will educate and assist regional farmers in identifying far-appropriate marketing venues.

 

The project team created a written curriculum to be used by Extension Educators and agri-service professionals in workshops with the farmers in their region. Speaker notes were added to each of the powerpoint presentations to allow Educators to easily and accurately present the material. In addition, the curriculum included: Q & A from the webinars, glossaries, session assignments, and quizzes. A “Curriculum Overview” for each of the 5 Assessments was created to provide Educators with the objectives of each assessment, identify the target audience and time required for each component, along with providing a lesson plan and a series of handouts and additional resources.

 

The written curriculum was placed on the Federation website for easy access to anyone wanting to use the materials at http://nyfarmersmarket.com/marketing-for-profit-online-materials/. Upon issuing press releases and list serve announcements, over 200 Extension Educators accessed the curriculum as of April 30, 2015.

 

 

  • Through a series of webinars, 500 Extension Educators, farm service leaders, farmers’ market managers and farmers will learn techniques and skills required for successfully marketing farm products direct to consumers.

 

Through participation in the webinars, we have reached 520 unique individuals. The participants have been scattered throughout the US, including Hawaii, and Canada. It has been a mix of Extension educators, farmers, farmers’ market managers, farm educators and non-profits.

 

But the reach has far exceeded the 520 individuals participating live with each webinar. After each webinar was concluded, a recording of the presentation was archived on the Farmers Market Federation website, http://www.nyfarmersmarket.com/work-shop-programs/webinars/view-past-webinars.html. They are also uploaded onto YouTube. As of April 30, 2015, there were 2157 views of these webinars from these locations, indicating a significant interest in learning farm marketing skills by both farmers and farm educators.

 

Workshop

Webinar Participants

On-line Viewing

Assessing Your Identity

45

721

Exploring Marketing Channels

26

Where Are We and Where do We Want to Be

24

Learning to Look Around, or, Getting Your Head in the Game!

102

341

How smart ARE you, Really?

107

257

Building the Marketing Plan

120

264

People Sure Are STRANGE! Coming to understand the consumer

106

166

BOGOs, Bounce Backs and the cost of freebies! Promoting the Product

83

148

Every Silver Lining has a Cloud! – Market assessment & Analysis

76

98

How to Say what we mean and mean something! Communication Assessment

80

98

You are what you Look Like! Preparing the Product

50

64

You are what they THINK you are! Selling the Product

44

41

Keeping an Eye on Your Customer

46

11

Putting a Handle on the Tomato

48

24

Drudgery that Pays Well!

34

31

Total attendance

991

2264

 

The project morphed from its inception. Instead of just being a series of webinars to educate Extension Educators, farm service leaders, farmers’ market managers and farmers to learn marketing techniques and skills, the project branched out to provide a variety of means to educate the target audience. The information could be imparted by participation in the webinars; at one’s own pace through the online course, by participating in regional workshops hosted by Extension using the program curriculum and through a written manual covering the entire curriculum. The manual is on the Federation website at http://www.nyfarmersmarket.com/view-course-materials/.

 

  • Webinar participants, New York’s Cornell Cooperative Extension offices, and New York’s farmers’ market managers will receive a direct marketing manual, developed through the information and resources offered through the webinar series.

 

The webinar series of marketing workshops was translated into a written handbook to accommodate those who learn best by reading the materials for themselves. Rather than putting the handbook on a disk and mailing a copy to each Extension Educator and other webinar participants, it was determined that an online distribution would be more effective. Extension educator turnover is high and a CD of the manual is apt to not make the transition to new staff. An online version will be permanently housed on the Farmers Market Federation of NY website, allowing access to the information well beyond the life of the grant. Therefore, the handbook was uploaded to the Federation website, http://www.nyfarmersmarket.com/view-course-materials/. A series of press releases, email blasts and list serve posts were made to announce the availability of the handbook.

 

Many of the Extension Educators participating in the webinars indicated they would not plan to use the presentations at farm meetings until the full series is complete. Others have indicated that they do not feel comfortable with the topic to give the presentations, even with the PowerPoint and speaker notes being provided to them. For these reasons, and to facilitate farmer requests, the leadership team added an online learning component to the project. With a partnership with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Broome County and Cornell University, the entire curriculum was uploaded to an online learning program, Moodle, under the Cornell account. The Moodle program provides the full five categories of marketing – each webinar and supporting documents. The documents include:

  • Glossary of terms used within the presentation
  • Q & A based on the webinar presentations
  • Resources to learn more information about the topic
  • Online forum for topic discussion
  • Homework assignment; with a goal that the completion of all homework assignments will net the participant a complete business and marketing plan
  • Quiz

Each participant completing the full course will receive a Certificate of Achievement. In addition, we received accreditation from Farm Service Agency to provide farmers who complete the full program to earn borrower credits on loans through the Farm Service Agency.

 

The Moodle program was uploaded and launched in November 2013. By the end of the project, April 30, 2015, 368 people had registered for the Moodle course. When added to the numbers participating in the webinars, the project exceeded the level of 750 farmers educated in direct marketing techniques.

 

 

  • Performance Target: 150 farmers will use the training received to enter at least one new marketing venue and/or employ new marketing techniques and strategies within their direct marketing venues, achieving revenue increases averaging $10,000 per farm.

 

Through the evaluation at the end of the project, farmers indicated that they learned valuable lessons from the Marketing for Profit: Tools for Success project. Many indicated they have implemented changes to their farm’s marketing strategies or plan to implement changes. But those who experienced increased income did not feel comfortable attributing the added income strictly to the marketing lessons they learned. They felt that it was a variety of factors that explained their added revenue, including increased experience, networking with other farmers at farmers markets and conferences, increased interest in local food among consumers and increased promotion and advertising by farmers market managers.

 

Instead of an increase in income, the leadership team looked at the changes that farmers reported making to their farm’s marketing strategies that were a result of the marketing workshops. Most farmers responding to the evaluation indicated making at least one positive change to their marketing plans and strategies as a result of the project. Most changes involved better promotions for their farms – logo, branding, signage, targeted advertising, etc.

Assessment of Project Approach and Areas of Further Study:

Future Recommendations

Marketing techniques are always changing, whether following consumer trends or updates in technology. For example, a few years ago social media was only something teens did to communicate with one another. Now social media is being used by businesses – small and local as well as large, multi-national companies – to reach consumers, educate about their products and build customer/brand loyalty.

Because the field of marketing is an ever-changing medium, it is important that techniques and strategies be updated periodically. It would be important to revisit the lessons within the Marketing for Profit: Tools for Success curriculum to maintain accurate and up-to-date information to allow Educators and farmers to remain current and effective in building their customer base, building brand loyalty and growing their farm revenue.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.