How to Bring the Family Farm “Online”
Family farms are increasingly rare and increasingly challenging to grow as they’re handed down from generation to generation. When it comes time to take the reins, you need to have a game plan – and it needs to include digital marketing.
In this post, we’ll show you the mindset and tactics to support the future of your family’s operation.
The tradition of family farming meant connecting your production to a reliable buyer. Whether it was livestock, produce or grain, farms would rely on phone books, coffee shops and classifieds to sell what needed to be sold.
However, today’s marketing landscape requires a smarter, more customized approach to create long-term, reliable connections with the people who need your business the most.
Start With Assets and a Brand
Before you try TikTok-ing and Tweeting, you’ll need branding. (No, not that kind of branding. 🐮 )
Potential customers need to recognize and feel comfortable with your business, and that starts with becoming recognized both visually and in reputation.
Here are some good ways to build branding assets for your business:
- On your website and in your social media bios, explain what makes your farm or agriculture operation different. Include details about the family and its history in agriculture. Use this exact description consistently.
- Show your product, and describe how it is superior to others. What problem does your product solve?
- Outline benefits of working with you vs. your competition. What is your edge?
- Show high-quality photos of your operation and people.
Now that you have a quick inventory list, it’s time to get into the activities that will help your family farm grow online.
Set Goals for Your Farm’s Digital Marketing
The first step to digital marketing success is always to have a clear goal in mind. Take it from us – you’ll need to have your eye on the prize in order to know what works and what doesn’t.
What does your family farm need? Here are some ideas for accountable digital marketing goals:
- Brand awareness in a specific geographic area
- Website traffic
- Online orders/sales
- Phone calls
- Newsletter sign-ups
- New contacts
Any of these are direct objectives that can be achieved with online marketing, and they start with a solid brand and product.
Setting clear goals or outcomes for your digital activities means you’ll always have clarity into whether or not they work. This sort of honest evaluation of your services will make future decisions about marketing much easier.
Which Digital Marketing Tactics are Right for My Family Farm?
Our digital marketing agency fields this question a lot, and the short answer is: “It depends.”
The long answer? You need to do some research for digital marketing to be profitable for your family farm. Virtually every digital marketing activity holds value for the family farm:
- Email Marketing: The oldest (but still the most powerful) form of digital marketing.
- Facebook and Instagram Advertising: The most intuitive way to target potential customers (and more people like those people).
- Search Engine Marketing: The best way to reach active shoppers on the largest advertising platforms (like Google, YouTube and Microsoft), with a diverse offering of ad types, including search ads, video ads, and image-based ads.
- Lead Tracking: Use platforms like HubSpot and SharpSpring to easily see who is visiting (or revisiting) the products on your website.
If you have business-to-consumer (B2C) goods such as meat, produce, or dairy, you might benefit from any digital activity that promotes your brand. Emails, ads, blogging, and lead tracking will all support a B2C product right away, because you’re simply telling people why, how, when, and where to get your product.
However, if your business relies on farm-to-farm or ranch-to-ranch relationships, it might make more sense to consider more B2B (business-to-business) tactics. Why? Because B2B transactions take more time and more structure.
For example, if you find yourself in charge of a family cow-calf operation, your marketing needs and goals will look much different than those of an organic grass-fed beef operation. Your relationships and sales depend on longer-term contracts vs. selling packages at the local farmer’s market.
Digital marketing still works for B2B ag operations, but the specific conversions, sales, and advertising tactics look much different than those for B2C, where your farm’s goods go directly to the consumer.
Not Sure Where to Start? Contact Us!
As farms pass from generation to generation, it’s important to continue your family’s legacy with people you can trust. 9 Clouds has a proven track record of helping family-run businesses with online marketing tactics.
Whether you need to start a site for your family farm or are just looking for ways to see better results from the website you have, our team can help with every step of the process.