Keeping customers – the farm marketing secret!

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!

Keeping customers

A happy customer

Keeping customers 

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!

Waterproof Label Ad-large

Keeping Customers
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

Always take the time to help a customer out.  It could be helping them to pick up the ‘best’ items for them or even just offering to carry heavy things out to their car.  A helpful farmer will make people come back.  Friendly and helpful – too very strong marketing tools for your farm!

Farmers markets - the same basic rules apply

Farmers markets – the same basic rules apply

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.

If you like this sort of information, please click on the FOLLOW button on the far bottom right of your screen….or visit our farm store to support our farm.

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Gaz

About Gaz

I'm an Australian transplanted to rural Maine where I live on a small property with my wife and two youngest children. Life about family, work and trying the make the planet a better place for everyone.
This entry was posted in Farm income, Homestead primer and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Keeping customers – the farm marketing secret!

  1. radarphos says:

    I examined several organic farms in my area of Stateline WI/IL. I wanted to buy some bulk products to dehydrate and can, in other words: buy by the bushel. No one does that locally that I have found. Instead they sell by shares, and for a share you get between 6-12 different types of vegetables or herbs in a pint or quart size container every week (depending upon timing of the growing season). The cost is considerable for the variety that lacks bulk. As a customer you can imagine what I have to do to buy bulk–I have to drive to every organic farm in my area (like within a 60 mile radius). Duh! Do I need to say that buying organic “by the share” doesn’t meet my needs? I am still no organic farmer’s customer, and refuse to be. My view is that if you want customers that you can keep, find out what they want and offer them shares in the volume they seek or at least a volume that makes it worthwhile to drive to your location to pick, or pick up, the bulk product. I am also OK with buying pre-season for farmer planning, and accepting adverse weather condition risks (draught, hail, etc.). If I were a farmer, that is what I would do. I would allot maybe 20% of my space to Farmer Market, 10% of space to self, and 60-70% of space to bulk-buying customers, or at least split some of the 60-70% of space between bulk-buying customers and WI style shares programs (e.g., variety without bulk). Wouldn’t you rather deal with 20 customers who buy bulk every year than 150 customers who buy one pint quantities of up to a dozen different foods, and who may opt out because of prices, driving distances, store sales, their own gardens, etc.? All you have to do is set a deadline for bulk orders; and after the deadline just plan for variety shares (without bulk). People who don’t can or preserve foods can only eat so much–and that amount is often very close to what they can grow in their own gardens. So, the more rural you are, the better regular customers should be (my guess) those who first want to buy in bulk and who are willing to accept some of the growing season risks .

    • Gaz Gaz says:

      Great comment – and I agree. We need to look and understand our markets so that we can really make the most of potential customers! Thanks for the input – really valuable 🙂

    • tim says:

      When we grew produce growing up, the bulk customers were our favorites. Like the reader said I’d rather have 20 bulk customers than piddle around at a farmers market with all the worries and a drunken market master trying to tell me how to run my stand.Green beans,sweet corn and tomatoes were the three biggies.

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