Help Your Customers Do Your Marketing For You

Reader Contribution by Norma Vela
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Beautiful Farm and Artist Products at Columbia Falls General Store in Downeast Maine

Photo Credit: Shelby Greene of Columbia Falls General Store, Maine

What small farm or farm store wouldn’t love to have their customers do their marketing for them?

Whether you already have happy customers or want to attract more, here are some simple things you can do to help them share your message, products or events.

Step One: If you already have a website, I hope you are also writing a blog or a newsletter. And I hope you’re including some great photos in your blog posts, because those photos are going to be your customers’ marketing tool. Even if you only write a monthly newsletter – be sure to post it onto your website and include photos there. I repeat: the PHOTOS are the key here.

Step Two: when you organize your farm or product photos on your computer (this is the IMPORTANT STEP) give them Descriptive File Names. Looking at my friends’ photo here, I would name it ColumbiaFallsGeneralStore.jpg or BeautifulFarmStoreProducts.jpg.

Step Three: when you’re writing your blog post, be SURE to fill in the AltText area with even MORE description. (If AltText doesn’t ring a bell for you, ask me and I’ll write more about creating a blog post) In my example, I might say, “Beautiful display of farm products and specialty items at local Columbia Falls General Store in Maine.”

Step Four: use these properly named, properly described photos on your website, in your newsletter and in your blog posts, social media – anywhere you post your photos.

You’re probably already saying “why on EARTH would I go to that much trouble and bother?” The answer is SEO – search engine optimization – and Pinterest. When your photos have great descriptions, search engines such as Google and Pinterest can find them, and USE them when responding to searches. That’s the first aspect of marketing: being FOUND. Which bring us to —

Step Five: create a Pinterest account with a board dedicated to your farm business and farm products. (want to know more about using Pinterest? Ask me in the comments and I’ll write another post if enough people respond, but basically, Pinterest is a search engine focused on IMAGES, but also where people come to SHOP. They search for Things They Want to BUY.

Well-named photos can be “pinned” onto Pinterest boards by you and your current customers (or anyone visiting your website or Instagram account) and those images will be put in front of the faces of thousands more people than you could otherwise reach. Result: Free Marketing. Encourage your customers to “Pin it!” and follow you on Pinterest.

You’re probably also asking, “Why Pinterest? Haven’t I got enough to do with Facebook and Instagram? Ugh.” The difference between Pinterest and those other platforms is that Pins on Pinterest live for YEARS whereas your Facebook and Instagram posts live for only a few minutes to a couple of days before they are overtaken. Who searches back through old Facebook posts? But Pinterest is a Search Engine – that’s exactly what it’s for. People want to see “Farm Stand” photos and you happen to have a lovely photo, correctly named FarmStand.jpg with AltText of Beautiful Farm Stand in Rural Maine, and you zoom to the top of the search. This means it also helps to think about what your potential customers would search for, then title and describe your photos along those lines.

Step Six: Be sure to include a Pinterest button on your website to make it even easier for visitors to “Pin it!”

Let me know if you have any questions about marketing or using Pinterest and I’ll do my best to help.

Norma Vela is a television writer now living in Maine with a fixation for land, horses, technology and gardening. She has a rope basket-making business, Tether Made, with her son-in-law and daughter and is learning surface pattern design, illustration, watercolor and digital art. Connect with Norma at Dovetail Family Farm, and read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

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