There is a farm customer marketing secret I want to share with you. Well – maybe its not a big secret – but when you have limited marketing dollars, you will really want to consider this:
It is easier (and cheaper) to have a customer come back than it is to find a new customer for your farm!
It costs a lot of money in signs and advertising to entice a new customer to your farm, farm stand, farmers market booth etc. Getting a person to COME BACK once they have found you is easier and cheaper! So… keeping customers is more cost effective!
A happy customer is a good customer. An ecstatic customer is the best customer you can have on the planet – especially when they become your advocate and do the marketing for you (FOR FREE). Keeping customers happy requires some effort and I suggest the following things to help the process:-
1. Be happy and friendly (always)
No mater what happened to you, how you are feeling and even if the cat threw up on your bed or the dog pooped into your shoe, put on a happy face! Be happy and smiling for ALL your customers. Nothing turns customers away faster than a grumpy and snappy store/farm owner. Greet people when they arrive – a simple ‘good morning’ or ‘welcome to our farm(stand/sore/booth)’ is a wonderful way to make people feel welcome. Just don’t be too gushing and smother people – remember people have personal space by physically and emotionally that you don’t like people to encroach upon. A happy simple greeting is perfect! Make this a rule for ALL the people who work on your farm and deal with your customers. Marketing is everyone on your farms business. Keeping customers has to be the number one rule!
2. Be helpful
3. Bonus products (samples)
Provide some bonus product – often a sample of something you sell – to everyone who buys your products. A good non-farming example of this happens at a store I go into in Hawaii when I visit (Hilo Hatties). Everyone who enters the store is greeted (a big smile and an “aloha”) and then given a free shell lei. It’s a cheap shell necklace – but it makes people feel that they are welcome in a happy place and got something for nothing. Notice how I said I go back when I visit Hawaii? They have captured me as a good customer…maybe now an ecstatic one as I am promoting them! But here is the rub – you just add the overall cost of these freebies to the cost of all your goods – so you don’t really lose money…and may make more sales over time to the people who come back. If I had one word of caution it is NOT to make a big deal out of this process – don’t have a sign that says ‘but $10 of goods and get a free sample” That, strangely, is counter productive. You are better to just mention it to each and every customer at checkout…and make them feel it was a special deal you are doing just for them!
4. Repeat customer discount
Have a card to hand people, or put into their checkout bag, that gives them a small discount on their next visit. This works well for some ventures that are not short-term seasonal activities. The cost of the discounts over time needs to be less than what you would spend on marketing to get a new customer and 10% seems to be the norm. A card you punch for each purchase and then something free after 10 times works well too for say a farmers market.
5. Onward or exit marketing
When a person had purchased something from them, always thanks them and add something like ‘I hope you come again’ or ‘Visit us again’. You can be ever cheekier if it is obvious that they had a wonderful experience and say ‘Visit us again and tell you friends too’. This is called Onward or exit marketing – and is not very common in the USA. Its somewhat subliminal as you are planting that small seed to revisit, but it costs you nothing and rounds off or concludes a good experience for them.
These are such simple things, but they will make a world of difference to keeping customers coming back to your farm. And in the long run you will save marketing money and time while boosting your long term income.
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