(This is the first of 5 principles of farm web marketing that I've developed over years of working with farmers. Read more about the principles here.)
The farm is your passion and your work. In your website content and blog entries, let yourself “be a nerd” about eggplant varieties, crop rotations, or small engine repair. People love to hear from people who are passionate and it connects them with your farm because it helps them understand how much skill and patience goes into the craft of growing food.
Being authentic extends beyond the way your write and present yourself online; it is also about the web marketing tools that you use to tell your story. Everyone is telling you that you need a Facebook page, a Twitter account, and what ever social network is on the horizon. Don’t go with the pack: use the tools that make sense for your business and start small.
You only have so many hours in the day and you can’t do it all! If you are completely new to web marketing for your farm, start with a website and then add an email mailing list to connect with your best customers. If you are feeling like entering the world of social media, dip your toes with a Facebook account. But remember! an abandoned facebook page, Twitter account, or website is worse than nothing at all. Make sure you can stick with the marketing goals you make for yourself between all the other tasks that make a farm happen.
In short: make sure the web marketing tools and the content you create reflects the personality of your farm. This part of the job of farming should be fun (at least most of the time), so make sure to find a way to have fun with it.
Read all 5 principles of farm web marketing
I have been working on some guiding principles for farm web marketing over the past 6 months. These are honest, down-to-earth principles for farmers to help make decisions for what marketing opportunities to spend time on and how to approach this part of your business. These aren't recycled from other industries or the same old boiler-plate: these are principles gathered from helping start and run a CSA farm operation myself and conversations with hundreds of farmers over the past five years with Small Farm Central.
I presented these at a number of conferences and workshops in the Winter of 2011 with really good response, so I thought I would take some time to write them down for the benefit of all our readers.
The following are the 5 principles:
#3 Clean Navigation
#4 Keep it Fresh
#5 Your story is interesting
Look for the first principle with details and examples to be posted during the week of May 30th.
Hi all! I've just added a new help doc for those of you interested in sending attachments in your newsletter. It's quicker and easier to send a link, within your email. Check out the new help doc for more info!
Small Farm Central is looking for a few great web designers to develop new, eye-catching design templates for our service. We are brewing up a batch of new designs in the summer 2011 and we need some help!
This is a tough design challenge. A successful designer must find the middle ground by creating a distinct, bold design and keep it customizable to each farm's needs.
Know a capable web designers that love farms? Send them on to read more about the job and how to apply.
We're helping lots of farmers get their websites and online sales going this year. One farmer talked about it on Twitter. We like the words 'smooth launch', so we thought we'd pass it on to you!
In case you can't see the image, @patspatured said:
"Grateful for a smooth launch of our 1st Buying Clubs / online store. Thks to Simon + the @smfarmcentral team -- couldn't do it without you!"
Let us know when we can work on a smooth launch for your farm!
Leslie is always up for a road trip, so she recently visited That Guy's Family Farm (thatguysfamilyfarm.com) in Clarksville, Ohio. Guy and Sandy Ashmore and their children, Conard, Maggie, and Nellie, grow a nice variety of certified organic produce, flowers, pastured meat and eggs, on their beautiful 48 acre farm land.
On a beautiful spring morning, Guy and Conard took time out of their busy day to chat with Leslie about their family farm, and how their Small Farm Central website has helped their business.
Soundtrack credit: Laura Veirs, "Anne Bonny Rag," from the album Carbon Glacier.
One of my main recommendations for web marketing is to start a regular email marketing newsletter. To make the work that goes into creating content for a newsletter worthwhile, it is important to have lots of subscribers! One key way to get new susbscribers is to leave out a mailing list sign-up form at your farm stand, farmers market, or wherever you connect with the public.
I've thought about designing a printed booklet that would make this easy for our farmers for a number of years and we finally got around to it. This booklet is designed to be taken to markets and sign up customers for your mailing list. Each booklet has 50 pages and is spiral bound so it will lay flat on your table. We would like to get one to you, so let us know that you want one and we'll mail one to you before the farmers market season starts. This is completely free! Just another way Small Farm Central helps you get your marketing done.
It looks like this:
Front cover with a space to write your farm name!
Inside pages -- there are 50 of these with a space to record which market it was used at for your records.
Again, use this form if you want a copy and we'll get one mailed to you some time in May absolutely free of charge!
We have released our newest premium template. It is called 'Horizon' and we are excited to get you using it so sign up and get started with this template or contact support and we'll help you change from an existing template.
Visit the test site at:
These are limited in quantity, so if you like this new design, grab it quickly before they are gone!
One of the best things about working at Small Farm Central is having the opportunity to work with so many great customers across the country – especially happy customers who send us treats!
We would like to thank Sarah Kagan at Hazon CSA of White Plains, NY (whiteplainscsa.com) for sending us a generous gift of locally baked treats from Sweet Bakery, including butter rum cake (the bakery’s specialty), and a massive assorted cookie platter. We are still full from our staff meeting -- and that was two days ago.
Sponsored by the synagogues of White Plains, NY, Hazon CSA of White Plains was introduced to Small Farm Central through their farming partner and current SFC customer, Chubby Bunny Farm (chubbybunnyfarm.com).
Hazon is the first Jewish Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) program in North America and is currently the largest faith-based CSA program in the country. More info on the Hazon program can be found at hazon.org.
Lancaster Farming, one of the largest agricultural newspapers in the country, just printed an article featuring an interview with Simon about how farms can best utilize the new web marketing tools that are out there. This is a really good review of our current thinking on web marketing for farms.
"With the recent push to get businesses (including farm businesses) to take advantage of social-interactive websites to market their products — on sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and blog sites — Huntley understands the challenges for farmers to add one more thing to their already packed schedule.
"I try not to blindly follow trends (in technology)," Huntley said. "It’s important (for everyone) to ask, why do I need this?"
As the founder and owner of Small Farm Central, a web company which provides online services specifically for farm businesses, such as website creation, online sales tools and community supported agriculture (CSA) customer management, Huntley has seen his own farm-web business double nearly every year for the past 4-1/2 years. Based in Pittsburgh, Pa., where Huntley and his wife live, Small Farm Central (SFC) now has 500 clients overall, including many small farms and farm businesses around the country and as far away as Hawaii and Nova Scotia. Though the company began as a solo venture, SFC now has four full-time employees with Huntley projecting continued growth in the coming year."
Read the rest of the article online or pick up a copy at your local newstand!