The best marketing is, of course, word-of-mouth. It is free and respected by consumers more than anything you write on your website. Have a great product, get people talking about it, maybe have a website for more information, and you are on your way to a great marketing plan.
There is a way that you can cross your website copy with word-of-mouth advertising: the testimonial.
Kehrer writes: "Testimonials are the missing link for prospects considering a commitment to your product or service. Reading what others have to say gives them instant comfort. It helps them connect the dots, put a real face on your business and see the satisfaction others have garnered from working with you."
Create a page on your site where you can collect the nice things customers say about your farm and build it slowly over time as positive comments are made. Small Farm Central farmers say lots of nice things, that's why we created the What Our Farmers Say page.
Once you have created a repository on your site of testimonials, you can sprinkle the comments throughout your site in places where the specific comment augments the point you are making. Strawberries are going strong across the country right now, so let's say you have created a page about your strawberries with information about "U-Pick", varietals, growing practices, and more. A comment from a customer about how different the strawberries are than store-bought is perfect for the strawberry page!
When someone sends you an email with a quotable line, send them a message back and ask them if you can use their words on your testimonial page. You don't want that customer to visit your site a few weeks later to find their email pasted all over your site without permission -- that is a good way to turn a happy customer into an disgruntled customer!
Specific testimonials are better than the general. What sounds better?
"I like to eat your produce because it is so fresh!
"We're so excited for the strawberries. The kids and us ate them as our bedtime snack, and like last week, my husband and I had to "fight" to get more than one! The kids love them, and we all love all the greens, too. Tonight before bed, my four year old said, "I'm thankful for the farmers who grow us healthy food." Thanks for feeding our family!"
Village Acres Farm Weekly Survey
Village Acres Farm has compiled a very impressive list of customer quotes this year which you can see on their website in the "recent comments" area in the right-hand column. In fact, the specific testimonial above was taken from their site.
I asked Patrick at Village Acres Farm what they were doing to generate such an impressive amount of positive comments.
Patrick writes:This season, I started a weekly "foodback" survey using www.surveymonkey.com. It's only three questions. The idea came to me from Sharing the Harvest by Elizabeth Henderson, who talks about a farmer including a paper survey in each box each week. About 15 to 20 members, per week, have been leaving very positive comments. Of those, I pick a few with names included (optional) and ask them if I can post their comments on our website. Every single person, so far, has said yes. Even adding additional comments (in their email) they'd like posted. After their comments are posted, I send a link to them. Some of the other comments left on the website (on specific recipes, especially) are completely unsolicited and sometimes even from non-CSA members. One more item on the "foodback" survey - a few members have used it to tell me about problems with their produce. Fortunately, most of them have left their name and I've been able to call them (much better than email for such issues) to find out more detail. Both (has only happened twice) have expressed appreciaton for me taking the time to call them and interestingly enough, the following week have posted glowing reviews in the survey. I'm glad for the opportunity to talk to these members while the situation is fresh, instead of at the end of the season.