Marketing Your Small Ag Business

If you are a small Ag business owner, it can be difficult to know how to market your product or service most effectively. This is especially true if you aren’t sure who your perfect customer is.

Many small businesses mistakenly try to appear bigger rather than capitalizing on what they do best. In other words, instead of promoting what makes them unique and especially valuable to their niche customers, they try to be a jack of all trades.

Small businesses who excel at one thing need to take that one thing and run with it. So how do you market your Ag business to a niche market? Here are some things you need to ask yourself as you build your marketing plan:

  • Who are my customers? If you try to market to all farmers when your product or service works specifically for cattle farmers, for example, you will have a hard time selling that product or service over the long term. Even if you get customers initially, they will become dissatisfied and word will spread. This can irreparably damage your brand.
  • What do my customers need? If your unique product or service benefits hay producers, you need a marketing strategy that gets the word out to hay producers. These prospects need to know that your product will solve a problem they have, make their job easier or allow their operation to become more profitable.
  • Why should people buy from me? Make sure your niche market knows exactly why they should look to you instead of a larger competitor. What makes your business special? Outstanding customer service? A better-made product? Emphasize why it is worth the time and effort for customers to patronize your business.

While it may seem risky to concentrate on only one or a few products or services, this will pay off in the long run by helping you to establish a loyal customer base. Finally, once you have found your niche, that doesn’t mean you can sit back and relax. The most successful small business owners understand that they must always be looking for ways to improve their business. By doing so, they will not only keep their current customers happy, those customers will provide invaluable referrals, as well.

Keeping Kids Safe on the Farm

Any farmer will tell you that kids raised on a farm end up being dependable, hardworking adults. After all, while the farm life isn’t all work and no play, children who grow up on a farm know the importance of getting a job done and getting it done right.

More than a million individuals age 20 or younger live on a farm in the United States. With school out, farm children are likely spending longer hours working on these farms. While injuries are not common, they do happen, and some of them can be extremely serious. In fact, more than 100 children and young adults are killed each year on the farm and thousands more are injured. Statistics show that children from 10 to 13 years old are involved in the most accidents.

While most farm kids believe that they are tough enough to handle any task, it is important to make sure that safety always comes first. Therefore, more than just a child’s age must be taken into account when chores are assigned. The size of child and his or her maturity must also be taken into consideration. It is also important that no matter how capable or well-trained even the most mature young adults are, they need to be checked on regularly to make sure they are doing their chores correctly.

The most common accidents occur near barn hay-drop openings, grain bins, manure pits, ponds and silos so make sure those working in those areas are aware of the potential dangers. Children also need to make sure that they are extra careful around animals—no matter how tame and friendly an animal may seem!

What follows are some appropriate chores for children working on the farm, keeping in mind that every child and situation is unique:

  • Children age 5 to 9: Collect eggs, feed small animals, water plants, work with hand tools while supervised
  • Children age 10 to 13: Assist with and handle animals, dig, push-mow while supervised, rake, use hand tools, use power tools while supervised
  • Children age 13 to 16: Feed animals, operate and maintain equipment while supervised, operate tractor and implements after the age of 14 and completion of a training course
  • Young adults age 16 to 18: Operate auger, elevator, self-propelled machinery and tractor following appropriate training courses

Many of the children working on farms today will take over those same farms as adults. It’s important that they learn to do their jobs well, and safely, to prevent any accidents now or in the future!

How to Market Your Small Farm in the Community

If you want to create a buzz about your small farming operation, it is important that you garner it some local online visibility. This can be achieved through things like a responsive website or being active on social media.

However, as every business owner knows, you never know where your sales leads may come from. That’s why if you are looking to promote your local produce business, it is important to market yourself out in the community, as well as online.

While it would be wonderful if you could afford print and broadcast ads, this is probably not financially feasible. So how can you get your business noticed in the community without spending a lot of money? Here are three simple ideas that will help you to get the word out about your business:

  1. Join a cooperative. A cooperative offers larger clients the convenience of buying from a single source. When you work as part of a cooperative, your produce can be sold to larger institutions, such as schools, whose needs you would not be able to meet on your own. Further, many cooperatives have a spokesperson that helps to market its members.
  2. Make a stand. While it may seem like small potatoes, a roadside stand can really help to increase your visibility in the community. Such a stand also will allow you to avoid fees that come with most farmers markets. You may be surprised at the number of visitors your stand attracts and, if your produce is outstanding and your service top-notch, how quickly word of your business spreads throughout the community.
  3. Go restaurant-hopping. Many local restaurants are searching for local produce to use when preparing their menu items. Visiting local chefs and restaurants and providing them with a list of produce you can provide is a great way to sell your homegrown items. Many restaurants will even list your farm on their menu, which gets your name out in the community and allows people to sample your produce.

While your agricultural operation may be small, it doesn’t need to stay that way. By promoting your business online and offline, you may be surprised at how quickly word spreads about your homegrown merchandise.