Photo by Mercedes Mehling
The Marketing Homestead Products series offers market gardeners and homesteaders tailored advice for selling their goods. Consider the benefits and drawbacks of joining up with a CSA, renting a farmer’s market stall, and the various forms of advertising available to your farm-based business.
If you have an on-farm stand, store or pick-your-own operation, roadside advertising is essential. Your signs offer information to new and potential customers and can be the first point of contact between you.
If you are looking to implement or improve your homestead advertising strategy, enhancing your signage is a great place to start.
Homestead marketing can be difficult. Depending on your location, you may be competing with other growers, larger operations or a small consumer base. You may have lots of traffic or none at all. Regardless of your current advertising situation, there are many ways you can let people know what you have to offer.
Your roadside advertising should be a facet of your comprehensive marketing strategy, and take into consideration the other communication streams you use to connect with your consumer.
1. Identify Your Target Customer
The type of signage you use will depend on the audience you are hoping to attract. For example, if you are looking for seasonal consumers that want to make a spontaneous road trip to buy fresh strawberries, you should advertise something eye-catching with sparse information.
If you are looking for potential customers that live locally and want to encourage them to buy on a regular basis, you may include your daily hours or update the products you have available weekly.
Regardless of whether you are investing in a large billboard or a small yard stand, make sure to think about what your ideal customer looks like. Do they come every Sunday? Are they tourists just passing through?
2. Provide Differentiation
One of the most important pieces of advertising is knowing what sets you apart from your competition. This is known as your unique selling proposition. When it comes to homestead marketing, this may be the products you sell, the quantity or quality of what you produce, the added-value items you have available or the seasonality of your farm stand.
For example, if you live in an area where apple orchards are everywhere, you will need to have something at your market that makes you stand out.
Maybe your apples are certified organic or you have hot cider available. Whatever it is, be sure to share it on your roadsigns. People are more likely to respond to a sign that includes significant details about your farm store and not just the name of your farm and the hours you are open.
3. Make It Legible
If a passerby car can't read the farm sign at the edge of your property, they are not likely to stop in and see what products you have available. Legibility not only makes your farm stand more accessible, but it also demonstrates the professionalism of your market.
Depending on your scale and budget, it's essential to choose a sign that not only accurately describes your business, but is also in line with your other branding elements. If you invest in a legible font, you are more likely to be profitable. Simple changes, such as increasing contrast, can have a huge impact.
4. Offer Consistently Exemplary Service
You want your sign to tell the truth. If you invest in a billboard on a busy road that states what products are available, always double-check that you still have inventory in the store. If a potential buyer is going to go out of there way to find something, they need to be able to trust you as a reliable provider.
This is especially important to consider if you are offering a limited supply of a seasonal crop, such as watermelon. Your roadside advertising should accurately describe the convenience of your farm stand.
5. Evaluate Success
Before you hang up a flag that reads "We're Open," make sure you research what the success of your homestead market or farm stand looks like. This could range from the number of customers, weekly profit or another metric.
You want your signage to display information that results in an actionable event. Your small farm advertising should include pertinent information that helps you gain the customers you want.
6. Diversify Your Offerings
Consumers crave convenience. However, increasingly, they are also craving experience. If you are comfortable with having customers on your farm, find ways to make the buying process more enjoyable.
Maybe there are flowers available to pick in the field next to your farm stand. Perhaps you can bring some baby chicks into the market. If your roadside advertising mentions something that your competitors can't offer, it will be easier to get customers to check out your stand.
7. Be Accessible
Depending on your location, make sure your homestead advertising accurately describes your space. People are less likely to become repeat customers if your stand is difficult to reach or the parking situation is complicated.
If you can offer certain amenities, such as handicapped parking, include these features on your roadside signage. Accessibility can make the difference in whether people stop at your stand or drive on.
8. Consider Infrastructure
Homestead and small farm stands can vary in design, infrastructure and size. They can be a small foldable tent with a table or a full-scale store with walk-in coolers and prepared food. Your roadside advertising should include details that help the customer know what to expect.
For example, you may operate a successful farm market that is self-service. People are on an honor system, and the hours are flexible. That feature should be mentioned in your signage, so potential customers know about the specific benefits of checking out your stand.
Signs of Success
Small farms and homesteads can benefit from direct marketing of their crops to a reliable customer base. On-farm markets are a great way to reach local consumers.
However, you must first get people to your farm. Without proper advertising, you may lose out on the opportunity to make more connections and increase the profitability of your operation.
There are several ways to advance your advertising strategy, and one of the first steps is choosing the right signage. By utilizing the roadside advertising tips above, you are investing in the success of your homestead.
Kayla Matthews writes and blogs about healthy living, sustainable consumption, eco-friendly practices and green energy. In the past, her work has also been featured on GRIT, Mother Earth Living, Blue And Green Tomorrow, Dwell and Houzz. To read more from Kayla, follow her productivity and lifestyle blog, Productivity Theory, and read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.
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