Category Archives: Marketing & Sales

Marketing & Sales Series: Pt 5 ~ Tips to Improve your Brand and Market Value

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Today, our Marketing & Sales series continues with tips on how to think about your brand strategy. We’ll walk you through the basic process of creating a brand by identifying your audience and the messages you want them to receive about your farm business.

Whether you’re new or experienced with the idea of branding, it’s incredibly valuable to create a brand for your farm that stands out in the marketplace and to periodically assess the appeal of your brand with your customers. These tips will also help you think about your big picture marketing strategy and how to eloquently talk with your customers about what you do and how you do it.


This feature was excerpted from the Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture’s (CISA) Marketing 101 Manual. Since 1993, CISA has been working to strengthen the connections between farms and the community, by creating and running programs that link farmers, community members, and markets. 

What is a Brand?

The most basic component of a marketing effort is a brand. Your brand is the story that you tell about your farm, the values that you communicate, and the sense that customers have of your business. And this is refined over time, so even if you have a branded farm now, there are always ways to improve the look and feel of your product.

Ask yourself: “When someone thinks of my farm, what comes to mind?” The answer defines your current brand: your brand is what your customers think of your farm business. If your current brand does not align with your self-perception, your values, or your goals, then it is not as strong a brand as it could be.

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Marketing & Sales Series: Pt 4 ~ Mobile POS Payment Options for Your Customers

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Square mobile device

Have you considered turning your smartphone or tablet into a cash register when you’re selling at the farmers market, making deliveries or otherwise interfacing with your customers? If you’re not already accepting EBT payments at the farmers market, do you know just how easy it is to set up?

Today, our Marketing & Sales series continues with a discussion of why a mobile point of sale (POS) system may be right for your operation, including recommendations on the best systems out there. Additionally, we discuss the CalFresh EBT program and ways you and your market can easily offer this type of payment system, and increase your customer base.


What is a mobile POS?

A mobile POS is a smartphone, tablet, or other wireless device that performs the functions of a cash register, anywhere there is a cellular or wireless internet connection. In just a few steps, a smartphone or tablet can be transformed into a mobile POS with a downloadable mobile app, and some simple hardware (a credit card reader, hand-held docking station or printer).

After setup, the POS system links to your bank account and can often also be an integrated component of your larger accounting and data management system. Either way, the cardholder’s information is encrypted and stored in a remote server, “the cloud”, so your customers’  privacy is protected and secure.
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Marketing & Sales Series: Pt 3 ~ Safe, Inexpensive & Sustainable Packing Tips!

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There’s a lot to consider when packing for market, such as food safety, box sourcing, labeling, standard pack sizes, and much more. Today, we continue our Marketing & Sales series with tips from Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF), Riverdog Farm, and Full Belly Farm on how to pack your product safely, inexpensively, and sustainably. We also give some great leads on box and supply companies referred by our farmer community. Read on for valuable tips about:

  • Packing and Food Safety
  • Wholesale Pack Requirements
  • Bulk Order Boxes & Labels
  • Cardboard Boxes & Supplies
  • Reusable Packaging

Packing and Food Safety

You’ve got to get your product to market, and that means putting it in some sort of packaging. While it might seem easier to just throw it in a box, there are guidelines – some by law and some required by different types of customers – that you must follow. Here are some tips from Heather Granahan, the North Coast Regional Food System Advisor for CAFF, on how to pack safely in the field and the packing house.

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Marketing & Sales Series: Pt 2 ~ Pricing Your Products & Tracking Sales

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Today, our Marketing & Sales series continues with tips from our farming community and University of Vermont Cooperative Extension on how to accurately price your products and track sales.

Tracking prices in the volatile fresh foods market is tough, regardless of how large or small your operation is. It’s inevitable that sometimes you’ll be below and sometimes you’ll be above the average market rates. Thus, the most important thing to ensure is that you’re making money on every transaction, and that you are truly covering your costs and making a profit. Luckily, there are many tools out there to help you do just this.

Read on as we help you think about your pricing strategy. Whether you’re a small or medium-sized farm, knowing the basics and thinking about how to improve your systems will pay off.

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Marketing & Sales Series: Pt 1 ~ Comparing Your Sales Channels

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With the ongoing popularity of our Water & Drought Management and Labor & Worker Safety series, we’re excited to announce our next two-month series of blog features about Marketing & Sales. 

This new series will be a mix of practical resources created by our partners combined with farmer stories and useful tips. We are pulling information from branding experts, food safety and value-added food specialists, experienced vegetable and livestock farmers, and farms of all sizes developing their marketing and sales strategy.


To kick things off, we’re discussing the importance of choosing the right mix of sales channels for your operation. There are many issues to consider and many different channels to get your product to the final end-consumer.

Read on as we help you think about your strategy, how to choose the channels that will work for you, and – most importantly – maximize your profit!

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Get the Most Out of Online Tools for Marketing Your Farm

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The following article appeared on the Good Egg Marketing website in 2013. Good Egg Marketing is a Massachusetts-based business that specializes in promoting good food and good causes. Good Egg clients are based nationally and include farms, food enterprises, small businesses, nonprofits, and consultants. Founder and “Top Egg” Myrna Greenfield works with associates in graphic design, web development, video production, and social media to create effective, affordable marketing campaigns.

Feeling overwhelmed by all the different social media networks? Wondering how to choose the best ones? You’re not alone.

Unfortunately, no single network or application will enable you to reach all of your customers. You need to employ at least a few different approaches to be effective. Although it may seem repetitive to post similar messages on your website, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, very few of your customers—if any—will see them all. In addition, you can use one channel—for example, an email newsletter—to drive traffic to your other channels, such as an article on your website or a Facebook special. While the content you post in each place can be targeted to take advantage of that channel (for example, an infographic works great on a visual medium like Facebook or your website, but might not work as well in an email message), you should try to have a consistent look, feel and language in everything you produce.

Ask your customers how they search for information online, which social networks they use regularly, and how they’d like you to communicate with them. Choose the top two or three and build your relationship with your customers on those channels. To make sure that new customers, journalists, and suppliers can find you, don’t neglect the “old” standbys, like your website or online directories.

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An Innovative CSA Model ~ Riverhill Farm’s “Friend of the Farm Card”

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Beautiful Riverhill Farm, Nevada City, CA

Today we are featuring an innovative CSA model, created by Riverhill Farm just outside of Nevada City, CA. Customers pre-purchase “Friends of the Farm Cards” in $150, $300 or $450 increments, which can be used to purchase produce from Riverhill’s farm stand or farmers market throughout the year.  Like conventional CSA subscriptions, Riverhill Farm enjoys some prepayment for their crops.  Unlike conventional CSA subscriptions, their customers enjoy the freedom to select what and when to buy their produce, and the farm can focus on fewer, yet still diverse varieties.

Read on as Alan Haight, co-owner of Riverhill Farm, describes their farm’s evolution from traditional CSA to their new Friends of the Farm Card, customer response and effects on their farm operation.

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Stack ’em High, Watch ’em Fly ~ 10 Tips for Farmers Market Sales, Part 2

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Here is Part 2 of my farmers market blog, including the second round of tips for achieving a well-managed, high-sale market stall. See Part 1 for the first five tips!

Two weeks ago I visited three farmers markets in the Bay Area to answer the questions:

  • How can farmers adjust to the slower winter months?
  • How can farmers make their stalls look inviting, abundant and eye-catching this time of year, when stocks are seemingly low?
  • What are the tricks of the trade to maintain sales?

Having come from Vermont, I started my casual research with the assumption that winter means fewer sales and greatly diminished product variety. I was surprised to learn that that’s not exactly the case. In California, there is almost the same amount of variety all year long.

What actually changes the most this time of year is the color palette, which can give a customer like me the sense that there is less to choose from. In the winter months, out go the baskets of red and pink tomatoes, and in come the dark leafy greens – and many different varieties of them!

So, with some of my initial assumption of less to choose from disproven pretty quickly, I then asked the vendors what tricks they use, and would suggest to other farmers, to best manage their stalls, and lure people in. The tricks and tips were endless!

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Stack ’em High, Watch ’em Fly ~ 10 Tips for Farmers Market Sales, Part 1

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This week I visited three farmers markets in the Bay Area to answer the questions:

  • How can farmers adjust to the slower winter months?
  • How can you make your stalls look inviting, abundant and eye-catching this time of year, when stocks are seemingly low?
  • What are the tricks of the trade to maintain sales?

Having come from Vermont, I started my casual research with the assumption that winter means fewer sales and greatly diminished product variety. I was surprised to learn that that’s not exactly the case. In California, there is almost the same amount of variety all year long.

What changes the most at the change of season, however, is the color palette. It also can give a customer like me the sense that there is less to choose from. In the winter, out go the baskets of red and pink tomatoes, and in come the dark leafy greens – and many different varieties of them!

So, with some of my initial assumption of less to chose from disproven pretty quickly, I then asked the vendors what tricks they use, and would suggest to other farmers, to best manage their stalls, and lure people in. The tricks and tips were endless!

Here are the first five tips for achieving a well-managed, high-sale market stall. (A link to part 2 is at the bottom!)

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Q&A with Member Dave Pratt: Ranching (and Farming) for Profit and A New Book Release!

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Boots on the ground learning! Summer course 2013, Laramie, WY

This week we’re honored to spotlight one of our members, Dave Pratt of Ranch Management Consultants. Dave has taught the Ranching for Profit School in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Australia and Africa, and is a respected authority on sustainable ranching. As a former Range & Livestock Advisor with UC Cooperative Extension for 14 years, and having grown up on a small ranch and worked for cattle and sheep ranchers, Dave has done a lot of research on management intensive grazing and strategic issues impacting the sustainability of ranches.

Over the years, he has earned a reputation for innovative teaching with a practical edge. Dave was instrumental in developing the Sustainable Ranching Research & Education Project, a large-scale, long-term effort to develop, research and demonstrate economic, environmental and socially sustainable ranching practices.

In 1991 Dave started working with Stan Parsons, who created the Ranching for Profit School and founded Ranch Management Consultants. In 1999 Dave became CEO of Ranch Management Consultants, Inc., and just released his first book “Healthy Land, Happy Families and Profitable Businesses: Essays to Improve Your Land, Your Life and Your Bottom Line“.

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