Marketing for Profit: Tools for Success

Project Overview

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

Annual Reports

Information Products


Not commodity specific


  • Education and Training: extension, workshop
  • Farm Business Management: marketing management

    Proposal abstract:

    The success of a farm rests on the farmer being skilled in a wide number of areas; production, state and federal regulations, strategic business planning, human resource management, machine maintenance and repair, food safety and marketing. For a successful farm business, whether it is fruits and vegetables or livestock, a farmer must possess expertise in each of these areas. But the marketing side is often the least skilled areas for farmers. Their focus is most often on the production side, with less attention to where they will market their products, nor how they will create the relationships with consumers necessary to be successful at whatever marketing channels they choose. Farmers rely on support from Cooperative Extension and other farm service organizations to help them on their journey to a successful farm business. They seek advice, attend workshops, and read manuals to learn the skills needed. While production and business management workshops abound during the winter months, few marketing workshops are held. We find that Cooperative Extension Educators and farm service organizations are often lacking in a broad-based, up-to-date knowledge of marketing concepts and techniques that will help farmers with this component of farm success. Extension Educators, in a recent survey, indicate that most of the farmers they work with lack appropriate marketing skills to reach their farm’s earnings potential. In addition, the majority of Extension Educators also indicated a need to sharpen their own marketing skills and would welcome marketing workshops and transfer the knowledge to the farmers in their county/region. Using a “Marketing University” concept, this project will develop and implement a comprehensive marketing training program for Cooperative Extension Educators, farm service organization leaders, farmers market managers and farmers. “Marketing 101” will begin with an analysis of various marketing channels; such as wholesale to supermarkets and institutions, farmers markets, CSA, direct to restaurants, farm stands and agri-entertainment. Educators will learn the skill sets and requirements of participation for each marketing channel. As a result, Educators will be able to help farmers understand each marketing channel and make farm-appropriate choices of marketing venues. The second step, “Marketing 201” will train educators in basic marketing skills; such as understanding the customer, identifying the competition, pricing, and merchandising and display techniques. These techniques are important to every marketing channel and will help guide farmers to initial success in whatever marketing channels chosen. Finally, “Marketing 301” will delve into more advanced marketing concepts such as customer database management, online marketing, and effective communications. Each session, delivered in a webinar format, will build the marketing knowledge and skills of each participant. An Educators Toolkit and a “Marketing for Profit: Tools for Success Guidebook will assist Cooperative Extension Educators and other farm service organizations to transfer this knowledge to the farmers. Ultimately, 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.

    Performance targets from proposal:

    1) 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.

    2) 100 Cooperative Extension Educators hosted meetings will educate and assist regional farmers in identifying far-appropriate marketing venues.

    3) 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.

    4) 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 resource offered through the webinar series.

    5) Using the education derived from the webinars and the direct marketing manual, 100 Cooperative Extension Educators will host regional farmer meetings to educate 750 farmers in direct marketing techniques and.

    6) 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.

    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.