Direct Market Training for Agricultural Professionals
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.
1.Develop a direct marketing manual with resources to prepare agricultural professionals to assist farmers and entrepreneurs interested in direct marketing.
2.Establish a direct marketing network of agricultural professionals that will foster information sharing, and provide technical and marketing information through a website
3.Conduct a two day in-depth direct marketing training for agricultural professionals.
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. Each chapter includes a case study and marketing checklist. 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 planned in November.
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. Additional materials will be added to the direct marketing manual.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
The workshop received an overall score of 4.15 on a scale of 1-5 with 5 being the highest. The materials created by the project have been used in a VA farm management news letter. Plans are under way to conduct a direct marketing workshop in Virginia and to distribute the manual to extension agents. 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 program.