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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Cottage Food Law 101 ~ Cooking Up Business From Your Farm or Home Kitchen

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Are you a farmer wanting to produce value-added items? Are you a food entrepreneur looking to expand your business? If you are, listen up! This past year, farmers and food entrepreneurs across CA rejoiced in the new Homemade Food Act (also known as the Cottage Food Act).

The first of its kind in the state, this law has opened the doors for many home cooks and farm businesses looking to expand into value-added products, to use their talents and often abundant harvest, to earn extra money and access new markets.

The law allows producers to sell their goods at farmers markets, in online stores, to wholesalers, in community supported agriculture (CSA) shares, and elsewhere. Without many of the restrictions that govern larger producers, this law aims to stimulate small-scale enterprise development and local economies, without requiring commercial kitchen space or lengthy zoning and regulatory measures!

However, it’s not just a free for all! There are still guidelines and limitations to what and how something is produced. Here at FarmsReach, we created a quick and easy info sheet on the basics of starting a Cottage Food Operation. The following are some highlights. For full details, visit our Cottage Food Law 101 Info Sheet in the Marketing & Sales Toolkit.

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How Do You Set Your Prices? ~ Advice from the Folks at the UCCE Foothill Farming Program

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This blog first appeared on the UCCE Foothill Farming website on August 20, 2013.  The University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) Foothill Farming program works in partnership with farmers and ranchers across Placer and Nevada Counties to provide a range of educational training programs and workshops, farmer-to-farmer mentoring and a wide variety of events and networking opportunities.

Written by Molly Nakahara, Specialty Crops Program Representative, UCCE Foothill Farming Program.

“Set your own prices.” This piece of advice, given to me by a seasoned fruit and vegetable farmer, has proven to be one of the critical foundations of my own farm business. So, here’s a test for all of you business savvy farmers out there: What is the secret message, the subtext, the implied meaning in this great guiding sales principle?

I’ll give you a hint: It does not mean you should set prices to what you think your customers will like, or set prices based on prices at the grocery store. Any ideas?  YES!  You’ve got it: KNOW YOUR COSTS! It means set your prices based on the true costs of production. If you can embrace this concept, it will become one of the most influential tools of analysis you will use on your farm.

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