This project consisted of a marketing course for producers called “Marketing-U” and the
development of a marketing resource notebook. The main objective was to create an in-depth course that would educate producers about marketing their products, then capture the material in a reference notebook.
Most farmers are good at growing or producing things, but need help in marketing their products. A lot of marketing meetings are held around the region, but many felt that there was a need for an in-depth session that would immerse the participants in marketing principles and have some follow-up with accountability. Every attempt was made to differentiate this experience; it was called Marketing-U to create the perception of a college course and it was registered with the University of New Hampshire for continuing education credits. The program consisted of in-depth discussions led by marketing professionals dealing with basic concepts in marketing, market development, promotional strategies, and other topics. A follow-up session was held eleven months later and participants were allowed time to describe the progress they had made in their businesses. It was obvious that several of them had applied the concepts they had learned—they had taken what was a only a dream a few months earlier and transformed it to an operating business.
In order to capture some of the concepts gained at Marketing-U and make them available to other producers, a market manual was also produced. This was distributed to the course participants and made available to the general agricultural public. Also, a Beginning Farmer Resource Guide was published with grant funds and made available at no cost to new producers. This contains marketing information and contacts to help new farmers get into business.
Enable agricultural professionals and farmers to become effective marketing coaches to operations that are developing value-added farm products.
To address the needs of farmers and agricultural professionals for practical, applied information that can guide the development of realistic, workable strategies and plans for marketing value-added farm products.
To help agricultural professionals learn the basics of value-added product marketing, understand which critical market development issues to raise with farmers, and became familiar with resources available to assist farmers with market planning for value-added products.
To develop an assessment tool for use by farmers and agricultural professionals in evaluating market plans and strategies for value-added products.
To develop and package course materials for agricultural professionals and farmers.
The training course was an intensive, two-day, interactive experience for twenty-four people, followed by an inquiry letter two months later, and then a one day review and market plan critique session eleven months after the initial meeting. The course targeted emerging value-added product farm operators, Cooperative Extension educators, USDA, and other agricultural professionals.
Applicants were encouraged to attend the course as a member of learning team consisting of an agricultural professional and one or more farmers. Instructors were drawn from academic and private sectors.
The training course enabled participants to do the research necessary to answer four basic market planning questions: To whom will I market? (market assessment and analysis); What will I market? (product development); Why will the market want mine? (market competition and positioning); and How will the market know I have what they need? (market connection).
Training methodologies included a mix of lectures, small-group discussions, and hands-on experience with market planning worksheets; the faculty came from both the academic and business sectors. From this experience the group developed market assessment plans for their operations. Working in teams, participants then prepared an outline for a market strategy and researched action plans to implement after the training program. Participants and faculty reconvened eleven months after the initial session to critique the marketing plans and make needed changes to their operations. From the 12 original pairs, six made formal presentations at the follow-up session and outlined the progress they had made in their business.
Performance Target Outcomes
Six of the original teams presented 20-minute discussions about the results of the marketing plan they had developed for their business. Several of the other teams came to the follow-up session to listen, even though they hadn’t completed a plan. In addition, there were new participants that came just to learn, making a total of about 35 people in attendance. A critique panel listened to each presentation and then spent about ten minutes offering constructive criticism about the marketing plans. The audience then offered their input.
It was amazing how many success stories had developed in just eleven months. One dairy goat producer had started a cheese making business during that time, and had marketed cheese at farmer’s market under a logo she had developed; a vegetable grower decided to become more focused on the crops that she marketed; a sheep dairy had won a national award for their cheese and was contemplating marketing their own product directly versus going through a wholesale market; a goat dairy producer decided to increase her prices and take her product to an upscale city market.