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There are many ways to spread the word about your business using alternative, free methods of getting publicity. The possibilities for drawing people in are endless, but here are some ideas to get you started.
First, look back at your earlier work and think about your brand. If the brand that you are working to communicate is based on sophistication and luxury, then having a presence at the county fair may not be the best way to further your brand. If your brand is homey and family-oriented, then the county fair is probably a great opportunity. Think about your target audience and the sorts of outreach that is likely to reach them. And, finally, think about your own skills and resources.
With a crop as sensitive as cut flowers, harvesting and doing sales at the farm every day would lead to a lot of lost product and would require expensive staff time, so Robin Hollow Farm doesn’t have a farm stand. This means that many of their customers never see the farm, but having an open-door policy can create real distractions on the farm. In order to create an opportunity for customers to connect with the farm in a way that works for her, Polly organizes several on-farm events each year, including an annual plant sale and a few holiday events. They are also available by appointment for garden club tours. Polly notes, “this way, we get to choose the terms under which we’re open to the public.”
Crow Farm is known locally for hosting school field trips. Each fall, groups of kids pour into the farm for a tour, and they all leave with an apple they picked themselves. The walls of one of the storage buildings are papered with thank you notes in childlike print. The schools pay a couple of bucks per child, but Paul says that this offering is more about positioning the farm in the community. Parents come in, curious about the farm that their child just visited, and, Paul says, “a lot of our customers
remember coming here as kids.” Paul is moving towards doing more on the farm to attract publicity and shoppers. He planted a Pick-Your-Own orchard, which is a feature that many customers have asked about. It would be a unique offering in the area, and would serve to extend the feeling of connection that the community has with the farm. He is also interested in the possibility of hosting a farm to table event with a local restaurant. There are a few potential restaurant partners in the area, and Paul has the perfect field to host a party (in fact, his wedding was in that field in 2005!).
This material is based upon work supported by USDA/NIFA under Award Number 2010-49200-06201.
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