Farmer Marketing

Simple, inventive ways to increase the value of farm fresh products through direct marketing, internet marketing, and creativity.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Farmers' Market Diversity

This post is directed to the farmers' market as a whole, though the principles can also be applied to an individual vendor.

Getting Traffic

For a farmers' market to succeed, the key element is to get traffic. You have to get people to come out and see what the vendors have to offer. Of course you can advertise more, but that is an expensive option that most farmers' markets don't have the luxury of using. The easier way...

Increasing Product Diversity

An easier and cheaper way to increase the traffic at your farmers' market is to increase the product offering. This can be accomplished by either bringing in new vendors with new products or getting existing vendors to bring more product variety.

The reason that product diversity can increase traffic without the additional cost is because there are many people who know about the farmers' market buy don't come because what they are looking for isn't there. When they become aware of the new products they will come out and be in a position to buy the many other products that were always available. This means that sales will increase by the amount of new products sold, but also more existing products will be sold because of impulse purchases.

So increasing product diversity is not only good for the new vendors you bring into the market, but also for the existing vendors because more people are seeing their goods and when more people see the product more people buy the product. So look for new products and increase product diversity

PS Try to send roses from a farmer's market. Locally grown cut flowers are likely to last longer since they don't spend as much time in transportation.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

The Oxymoron of Pricing

For most farmers marketing their products directly to customers, the question of pricing seems simple: the lower the better.

The Farmer Mentality

The farmer mentality is an interesting one. With the nature of commodity pricing farmers are accustomed to selling their products at the market price, that means the lowest price that buyers can get out of farmers. The farmer takes the market price because they have bills to pay. Then next year they think that if they grow more they'll make more money, but the increased production drives the price down and negates the increase in production.

The Pricing Oxymoron

So how does the farmer make a better return? The more they grow the lower the price goes. If they keep production constant they continue to struggle financially. The answer is simple. Sell at a higher price. But how?

Price as an Indicator of Quality

When a farmer starts selling direct to customers, the farmer controls the price. However, the farmer needs to get out of the farmer mentality about price. That means pricing at a point that is profitable for the farmer. Now let me explain how to get customers to pay the price and like doing it.

1)Produce a superior product
2)Believe in your product
3)Price your product where you can make a profit

When people don't have perfect knowledge they often use price as an indication of the quality of the product. This means that if you have a superior product a low price might actually be turning people off. They might question your quality because the price doesn't match the advertised quality. This means that raising the price can actually increase the perception of your product. That means a better price for every product sold and you can actually make money doing what you do best.


This strategy will take patience. You may run into some resistance, but allow the change to happen.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Lessons from an Idaho Farmers' Market

In my fifteen years of working with a small Idaho farmers' market I have observed many ways of presenting fruits, veggies, crafts, and a lot more. For this entry I want talk about the general appearance of the booth/display.


The general appearance of your booth/display is critical to get customers to stop & look, decide, and purchase. For this post I will talk about how the appearance of your booth will get people to stop & look.


You have to keep in mind the brand image you are trying to convey. If you want people to view you as a local organic produce grower, you don't want your displays to look like the supermarket. As a local grower, you want people to associate with you. Use a rustic style table cloth that reminds people of how things were when they were a kid. Be friendly and talkative. Everything you do, say, and display is an extension of your brand.

Let me give you an example from the Idaho farmers' market that I have seen. The display is beside a large refrigerated truck and all the fruit is set out in a display for individual sale as well as bushel boxes stacked for sale. All the produce is perfectly cleaned and looks great. Obviously this operation wants to be seen as a big grower that delivers store quantity straight to you. In contrast, there is the two young kids standing by a card table with zucchini, squash, and a few tomatoes. Who sold more? Of course the big operation did, but these kids weren't trying to compete with that. They successfully portrayed an image of a backyard garden that grew a little too much.


Let me boil this down. Don't worry if your produce isn't perfectly shaped and cleaned. If your branding is as a local grower, those very imperfections can act as your seal of authenticity. I have rarely heard a complaint about a funny shaped cucumber or a dirty potato from farmers' market customers (especially not in Idaho). If you want a high-end brand image, work on professional displays and shine up that produce, but remember to be consistent. Again, everything you do, say, and display is an extension of your brand.