Promote your farm (or other farmers' market business) using approaches that cost nothing except for doing them. Of course they need to be kept updated as necessary. To generate the greatest visibility, do as many of these as you can. Click images to visit real examples.
Passive promotional methods are those you put out there and wait for people to find, so putting your farm info on high viewer websites brings the greatest results.
Active methods are those that you send out to viewers whenever you wish.
Interactive are those where a dialog is created between you and any number of viewers.
Get your info onto your market's website. (passive)
Many farmers' markets have a website, yet some of those websites don't bother to list their members' contact info or product line. Websites that just list the names of their attending members are missing the opportunity to promote each of their members. The listings that best promote the market's members include each member's name(s), farm name, address or location, phone, email address, member website, a photo of the member at market, and member-written description of their farm and products. This allows anyone visiting the market's website to learn more about the market's members even when the market is not in session. It also allows market shoppers to contact the farm directly to ask questions and place an order for pickup at market or directly from the farm.
Start an email newsletter for your farm. (active)
A newsletter about your farm does not have to be loaded with content, although it certainly can be. The primary purpose of an email newsletter is to provide you with a low cost method of telling the ongoing story of your farm to all who express interest. This creates bonds between you and your customers, helps them get to know you better, and understand the part of your farm they never get to see at market.
Whether you ask people to sign up at market, on a facebook page, or on your farm's website, the first step it to begin to collect email addresses from your current and potential customers. At fist you'll have only a few addresses, but over time your list will gradually grow. The most labor intensive way of keeping track of your subscribers is to do it in your regular email program. The easiest way is to use an Email Service Provider which allows you to create a variety of attractive emails as well as maintaining your subscriber list. See the Email Newsletters page for more detail.
List your farm at MOFGA.net. (passive)
A new web-based service begun in late 2009, MOFGA.net allows any local farmer to create a page for their farm, where you can describe your farm as completely as you'd like, complete with uploaded photos. You begin by creating an account with a user name and password, after which you can create your page. Log in any time to edit your page. This is an easy alternative to creating your own web page, although doing both is a good idea, too. MOFGA.net attracts an increasing viewership due their numerous other services such as MOFGApedia, forums, the CSA directory and the Farmers' Market directory.
List your farm at GetRealMaine.com . (passive)
The Maine Department of Agriculture has a promotional website called GetRealMaine.com where you can create an account and build a web page for your farm or farmers' market. Because GetRealMaine.com is an official state website, it has an automatic high visibility, and includes promotion for a wide variety of other agricultural activities. Log in any time to edit your page. This is an easy alternative to creating your own web page, although doing both is a good idea, too.
Create a Facebook page for your farm. (passive, interactive)
You may already have a Facebook page of your own, but you can create another specifically for your farm. Go to Facebook.com and create an account under your farm's name. Then add photos and newsy farm info. Many folks use their page as a blog, adding comments whenever something of interest is happening at the farm. Viewers, too, may add comments and questions. Add other farms as friends and add links to your website, your market's website and its facebook page. Include news and photos of events such as farm tours, impending spinach harvest, birth of piglets, and so on. Reply to comments made on your page.
Create a farm name and logo. (passive)
Surprisingly enough, a small number of market members don't even have a name for their farm. Many more don't have a recognizable logo. Both of these are simple enough to create and begin using. Having a farm name is a method of “branding” your products, differentiating them from the generic. Having a logo is a graphic method of displaying your farm name, of creating an image in minds of shoppers that is associated with your farm.
Naming your farm can be done by using your own name (Smith Farm, Clarke's Garden Patch), it can use your location (Snakeroot Organic Farm, Hilltop Acres), or it can be whimsical (East Moosefart Farm, Iwanna Farm). The important part is that the name be memorable and help you market your products. By the way, these examples are all real names of farms attending markets in Maine.
A farm logo can be as simple as always using a specific font and/or color to write your farm's name and always arranging the words in the name in a particular way. This can be used with or without an adjoining image of your farm or products. At the other end of the spectrum, a logo can be designed by a graphic artist, either by paying or bartering with them, or by finding an art school student eager to build their portfolio. In any case, you'll want copies of your logo ranging in size from business card to sign at the end of your driveway, even if you don't plan to use all of these sizes right away.