Final Report for ES05-079

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2005: $96,757.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2008
Region: Southern
State: North Carolina
Principal Investigator:
S. Gary Bullen
N.C. State University
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Project Information

Abstract:

Land grant universities have focused most efforts on instruction for diversification using production as the method rather than marketing. While many growers recognize that added marketing training is needed, there exists a large gap between theory and practice. Yet, the lack in “how-to” direct marketing instruction opens possibilities and opportunities for training and income enhancement. County agents need to acquire practical direct marketing skills, beyond production expertise, with which to instruct farmers that are attempting to successfully adopt new enterprise developments and changes.

A direct market project teams made up of NC State and NC A&T, Clemson, South Carolina State, and Virginia Tech and Extension specialists and field faculty, NCDA personnel, farmers and ASAP personnel organized and conducted a two day direct marketing workshop. A direct marketing manual was developed to supplement to the workshop. Eighty-six extension agents and farmers from North Carolina, Virginia and South Carolina attended the two day workshop. The workshop’s evaluations were very positive. A local food dinner was planned the first night of the workshop. The local food dinner featured an area chief and producers discussing their experience with working together to incorporating local produce into restaurants. Follow up marketing workshops have been conducted as a result of training.

Project Objectives:

1. Seventy-five extension agents and other agricultural professionals will complete a two day direct marketing training. The marketing training will equip the participants to identify potential market feasibility, show how to conduct useful market research, and identify viable marketing channel for growers, identify cost effective methods of promoting and advertising, and know how to develop different pricing strategies for growers.

2. Seventy-five direct marketing training cooperative extension agents will incorporate the direct marketing training in their county extension program. Thirty-five cooperative extension agents will conduct direct marketing education programs in their county as a result of receiving the training. The direct marketing participant will dissimilate the marketing materials and resources to farmers exploring new crops and opportunities.

3. Seventy-five direct marketing training participants will access and use new resources, learn how to use new resources via the web and at land grant institutions and agencies, and will have greater skills in assisting direct marketers in their county.

4. Thirty-five farmers will increase their knowledge and incomes by using the direct marketing tool

Introduction:

Cooperators

  • Edoe Agbodjan
  • William Brinkley
  • Rachel Bynum
  • Tom Campbell
  • Carl Cantaaluppi
  • Keith Dickinson
  • Ed Estes
  • Dr. Geoffrey
  • Charles Holeman
  • Brent Hunter
  • Charlie Jackson
  • James Jenkins
  • David Kendall
  • Jack Loudermilk
  • Kenner Love
  • Denise Mainville
  • Theresa Nartea
  • John OSullivan
  • Eric Plaksin
  • Bob Usury
  • Ross Williams

Education & Outreach Initiatives

Objective:
Description:

Methods

The eighteen direct marketing advisory members were organized into workshop and manual committees. The manual committee reviewed direct marketing materials. The majority of direct marketing materials focus on marketing outlets and very little on market research. The committee decided the manual would emphasize practical market research. The manual was organized into nine chapters, farmer case studies, marketing tools and additional resources. The nine chapters are: What is Direct Marketing, What Should You Produce, Which Direct marketing Outlet is Right for You, Who will be My Customer, What Do My Customers Want, and How Will You Reach Your Customers, How do You Plan for Profit, How Do You Set Your Prices, Market Regulations, Licenses, Permits and Taxes and Insurance. The manual has received high marks from the farmers and extension agents who reviewed it. The direct marketing manual was a very important part of the two day direct marketing workshop.

The two day “Direct Answers for Direct Marketing” was conducted November 13 and 14 2006. Eighty-six participants learned about getting to know their customers, where to find market information, how to get into different markets, farmers experiences with CSA’s, farmers markets, agritourism, selling to restaurants, selling to retail outlets, and roadside chains, and how to get their message out. The training involved presentations as well as class room activities. Farmers from NC, SC and Virginia presented marketing information during the workshop.

The workshop training featured a local food dinner the first night with local producers and chefs conducting a program on how they work together to get local foods into restaurants. Local food advocacy groups were invited to set up booths and given time on the program to tell how they promote a local food system.

All workshop participants received a direct marketing manual with a companion CD ROM and a packet of additional marketing materials. The direct marketing manual on CD has been distributed to all 100 counties in NC and selected counties in VA. The direct marketing manual has been posted on our website.

A survey will be sent to workshop participants to evaluate the impact of the direct marketing program.

The workshop received an overall score of 4.15 on a scale of 1-5 with 5 being the highest.

In 2007, the direct marketing advisory committee reviewed the direct marketing materials developed for the workshop. The advisory committee recommended new fact-sheets and editing the manual. The manual and business tools/fact-sheets were written to be a supplement to the workshops. The advisory committee thought the tools and manual could be more useful to a larger audience if rewritten. The business tools/fact-sheets were rewritten to include an explanation of how to use the fact-sheet and worksheets to aid in the direct market topic covered as well a case study to support the materials in the fact-sheet. The nine fact-sheet are: Introduction of how to use the fact-sheets, How to Evaluate Your Business Idea, Identifying Your Customers, How Do You Plan for the Market, Evaluating the Competition, Estimating Your Cost and Income, Calculating Your Prices, Market Regulations, Licenses, Permits and Taxes and Insurance and Helpful Resources for Direct Marketing. The direct marketing fact-sheets has been posted to NC state University Value Added Web site as well as distributed to all county office in the three states. News releases are being developed to promote the business tools.

Outreach and Publications

Publications

"Direct Answers for Direct Marketing Manual"
Karen Mundy, S. Gary Bullen 2006

A series of Fact-sheets on direct marketing

"Evaluating a New Business Idea"
Karen Mundy, S. Gary Bullen 2008

"Estimating Income and Costs"
Karen Mundy, S. Gary Bullen 2008

"Identifying Your Customers"
Karen Mundy, S. Gary Bullen 2008

"Evaluating the Competition"
Karen Mundy, S. Gary Bullen 2008

"Estimating Market Potential"
Karen Mundy, S. Gary Bullen 2008

"Legal,Regulatory and Insurance Check List"
Karen Mundy, S. Gary Bullen 2008

"Product, Price, Place and Promotion"
Karen Mundy, S. Gary Bullen 2008

"Helpful Direct Marketing Resources"
Karen Mundy, S. Gary Bullen 2008

Revised Direct Marketing Manual
Karen Mundy, S. Gary Bullen 2008

Outreach

See accomplishments section

Outcomes and impacts:

The two day “Direct Answers for Direct Marketing” was conducted November 13 and 14 2006. Eighty-six participants learned about getting to know their customers, where to find market information, how to get into different markets, farmers experiences with CSA’s, farmers markets, agritourism, selling to restaurants, selling to retail outlets, and roadside chains, and how to get their message out.

The training involved presentations as well as class room activities. Farmers from NC, SC and Virginia presented marketing information during the workshop.

All workshop participants received a direct marketing manual with a companion CD ROM and a packet of additional marketing materials. The direct marketing manual on CD has been distributed to all 100 counties in NC and selected counties in VA. The direct marketing manual has been posted on our website.

The materials created by the project have been used in a VA farm management newsletter. A direct marketing workshop in Virginia and to distribute the manual to extension agents using the materials developed by Direct Marketing Project.

A CSA workshop was organized in South Carolina with 25 attendees. A marketing project was organized with a group of fifty-six farmers to supply local groups with fresh vegetables. Seventy-five percent of the participating farmers reported increased profits as a result of the programs and skills taught by cooperative extension agents.

In 2007, based on the direct marketing advisory committee recommendations, the business tools/fact-sheets were rewritten to include an explanation of how to use the fact-sheet and worksheets to aid in the direct market topic covered as well a case study to support the materials in the fact-sheet. The nine fact-sheet are: Introduction of how to use the fact-sheets, How to Evaluate Your Business Idea, Identifying Your Customers, How Do You Plan for the Market, Evaluating the Competition, Estimating Your Cost and Income, Calculating Your Prices, Market Regulations, Licenses, Permits and Taxes and Insurance and Helpful Resources for Direct Marketing.

The direct marketing fact-sheets will be posted to NC state University.

See accomplishments sections

Project Outcomes

Project outcomes:

In 2006, As result of the Direct Marketing Project a direct marketing workshop for extension agents was conducted in Virginia. The Direct Answers for Direct Marketing manual was used distributed to workshop participants. A CSA workshop was organized in South Carolina with 25 attendees. A marketing project was organized with a group of 56 farmers to supply local groups with fresh vegetables. Seventy-five percent of the participating farmers reported increased profits as a result of the programs and skills taught by cooperative extension agents.

A follow up written and phone survey was conducted in at the end of 2007. A random sample of 30 percent of the workshop participants were contacted by written and phone surveys to measure the impacts and outcome of the 2006 training and materials. One of our goals was to have extension agents gained skills in market research, and other marketing topics. Ninety-six percent of the workshop participants said they gained marketing skills as a result of the workshop and supporting materials.

Another goal was for the extension agents not just to learn new marketing skills but to be able use them in their extension programs. Sixty-five percent of the extension agents surveyed reported using the marketing materials and resources provided. Fifty percent of the participants had developed new direct marketing class and workshops as a result of the project. The direct marketing trainees reported 27 classes and workshop with 1,239 farmers attending the workshops. Ninety-two percent of the participants reported assisting farmers with direct marketing related questions.

In 2008 the Direct Answers for Direct Marketing participants were surveyed asking questions on use of workshop materials,farmers assisted,
workshops developed.

Question 1 Have you used any direct marketing materials and resources?

Extension agents in VA, SA and NC reported using direct marketing materials developed by the grant to assisting 261 farmers.

An example of the type of assistance provided by extension agents: "I have used what I learned in the workshop in talking with farmer’s market vendor about signage,telling their product story to the customers, showing why their product is worth the price, packaging amount to meet customers needs.

Question 2 Have you assisted any clientele with direct marketing questions?

Extension agents in VA, SA and NC reported using helping 218 farmers with marketing questions.

Question 3. Have you used the Direct Answers for Direct Marketing materials to prepare a presentation?

Eighteen presentations were reported to have been developed using the Direct Answers for Direct Marketing Materials.

Question 4. Have you developed a direct marketing training class or workshop?

The participants reported conducting 16 classes and workshops on direct marketing with 410 farmers attending the workshops. An example of the type of workshop developed as a result of direct marketing project is" Coordinated with my co-workers to develop a program for Strengthening Valley Farm market managers to network and learn how to move past problems and develop solutions to improve their markets.

Recommendations:

Potential Contributions

Extension agents traditionally had marketing training but are being as to provide marketing assistance to their clientele. This training has provided them with information and resources they need to assist with direct marketing questions. The follow up surveys found: ninety-two percent of the participants reported assisting farmers with direct marketing related questions, sixty-five reported using the marketing materials and resources provided, and fifty percent of the participants had developed new direct marketing class and workshops. The direct marketing trainees reported 27 classes and workshop with 1,239 farmers attending the workshops. One of the goals of the grant was to develop practical direct marketing training and resources that extension agents could incorporate into their own county programs. Based on the follow up surveys our goal has been meet. We found that if we could provide clear step by step marketing resources, extension agents would go beyond generalities to assist farmers with real answers for their direct marketing questions.

A direct marketing manual and fact-sheet has been developed as a result of the project. The marketing materials has been made available to all 100 counties in NC, and given to new agents as they enter the system. The training manual has been given to other states in the Southern Region.

Specialists from several states have used the workshop and marketing resources to conduct similar training.

Future Recommendations

1. This project gave Extension agents a basic understanding and resources to address marketing questions. Marketing is ofter the limiting factor for farmers as they start a new enterprise. Extension agents need further training and resource in direct marketing to go beyond very basic assistance. The market training must be practical with hand-on exercises when ever possible

2. Because of the high turn over of extension agents this type of marketing training should be offered every five years for new extension agents.

3. A communication person should be on the advisory committee. The communication person could help develop a distribution plan for resources developed. There are many good resources developed by SARE grants but they are not always distributed beyond the workshop participants. The grant’s resource materials should be promoted and made available to others.

4. A central depository for the resource developed by SARE grant funds should be developed.

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.