Please note: This article first appeared in the 2019 Spring Edition of Plain Dirt Newsletter and has been slightly edited to fit all of our audiences.
Written by Andrew Stutzman, Loan Officer
In our last issue of Plain Dirt Financing I wrote an article titled “How do consumers decide who to buy from?” I wrote that article because I have recognized that many of today’s farmers are directly engaged in marketing their own products. I wanted to provide some insight that would help you as a farmer think more deeply about how consumers make buying decisions, so that you can market to them more effectively.
How to Identify your Farm's Target Market
One of your first steps in developing your marketing plan is identifying your target market. A target market is a group of people that you choose to focus a specific marketing effort on. It’s important to take the time and evaluate who your customers are and to identify your future growth opportunities. This will look specific for each target market. You can have multiple target markets, but it is helpful to have a specific one in mind for each marketing program that you develop.
Everyone is a potential customer, but you can’t reach everyone effectively with one single message. Different groups of people have different values and are looking for a different buying experience in the products they purchase. By focusing on one group of people with each marketing strategy, you can make sure that you reach them with a personal message that they will relate too.
Target Market Example Case Study
You’re a produce farmer looking to retail your produce from a market stand on your farm. An example of a target market in your community could be the upper middle class people who travel the nearby highway to and from work. Another possible target market could be students who attend the local college. Either of these groups will have different values and preferences when it comes to buying produce. Before you create a poster or put a sign out by the road, it would be helpful to decide which group of people you are trying to reach.
Once you’ve chosen and defined a specific target market, it’s time to study that group of people. Learn as much as you can about them. What are their values? What’s important to them? How do they make buying decisions?
In the case of your upper middle class highway travelers, you might find that they value quality and nutrition in their produce. In the case of your local college students, you might find that they value affordable prices and are concerned with environmental sustainability and reducing waste.
How to Craft your Farm Marketing Message
Next, use what you know about your target market to craft a message that will attract your customer. Your communication efforts to your upper middle class highway travelers could focus on the quality and nutrition of your produce. As for local college students, your message could focus on the affordability of your product, while also promoting your soil conservation efforts.
You might choose to focus all of your marketing efforts on one specific target market, or to reach out to a few different target markets, each with a specifically catered message. Make sure that your target market or markets resonate with who you are.
In our example, you might choose to market to one or both of the target markets we came up with. Here’s an idea for reaching both: market your highest quality produce to your upper class highway travelers. Then market your produce seconds to the college students, advertising the lower prices and emphasizing the sustainability of making use of a product that might otherwise be thrown away.
Direct your advertising to where your target market will see it. In our example, it would make sense to put a sign out by the highway to reach your upper middle class highway travelers or an ad in the local newspaper, while you’d probably best reach your college students by advertising on or near their campus or online.
Case Study Example Summary
Notice how different our marketing messages and approaches are to the two different target markets in our example. We needed the different approaches in order to reach each of them in a way that is attractive to their specific values and preferences. Knowing your target market is important because it can help you to design a marketing message that will effectively reach and attract them.
Now see if you can apply these principles to your own marketing program!