Use of Online Marketing for Ag Enterprises

Online marketing tools and techniques are rapidly growing in use.

Yet the use of such tools among rural business owners and small agricultural business owners has not kept up with the national trends. These businesses tend to continue their use of more traditional marketing tools.

The Center for Rural Enterprise Engagement at Kansas State University has taken a look at this issue among the green industry businesses including garden centers, nurseries, and landscape operations. In this webinar, they discuss their findings and offer ideas on how rural small-business owners can make the best use of online marketing. 

Enjoy Success with Your Small Farm

mama-and-baby-goatThe number of small farms continues to grow in the United States. While many of these represent noncommercial operations, the interest in local foods, natural and organic also represent a big driver of this movement.

Small farm operators, as noted by Mary Peabody, University of Vermont Extension, are an “enthusiastic, passionate, ambitious lot.” Farming is demanding, requiring commitment of mind and body to be successful.

The UVM Extension New Farmer Project is one effort to help coordinate resources and services for this segment of the economy. In addition to providing tips for a successful startup,  you can find information on farm labor, marketing, pricing, and quality of life.

Many other states along with USDA and nonprofits are also supporting the small farm industry. Some of these resources can be found here.

As a small farmer, you do not need to feel that you are going it alone. Check out the resources and also build your network.

Good luck.

Community Development: Retaining Rural Grocers

Elwood marketThanks go to Dr. Dan Kahl, Associate Director of the Community and Economic Development Initiative of Kentucky for this week’s blog idea. His idea demonstrates the power of the national Cooperative Extension Service network as he mentions work being done in Kansas.


It’s not a secret. Many small rural towns struggle to maintain themselves and their quality of life.

Part of that quality comes from having certain amenities such as a local cafe and a school. Another key component is a local grocery store. This local store often becomes a meeting point where neighbor sees neighbor, where the bulletin board serves as a “social media” sharing site, and where many events are held.

Obviously we all need food and that means access. USDA talks about food deserts or places where, for rural situations, people have to drive more than 10 miles to get to a supermarket or large grocery store. But such stores serve as much more.

Kansas State University has developed the Rural Grocery Initiative to help these rural linchpin stores maintain themselves and grow. When Dan sent the information about this effort, he specifically mentioned their Rural Grocery Tool Kit as a useful resource. Not only are a variety of tools found but there is also a variety of reports such as Rural Grocery Stores: Ownership Models that Work for Rural Communities.

Since 2007, Kansas State’s Center for Engagement and Community Development has worked on this project. They have done several national meetings for store owners and community stakeholders. Their National Rural Grocery Summit V is set for June 6th and 7th in Wichita, Kansas. See their web site for more information.

Growing your local economy through your rural grocery store. Looking for help, here is a great resource.  

Here is another story on supporting rural grocery stores.

Getting Found: It’s a Must!

Market

Photo (CC 2.0) by Blullana_Miranda, on Flickr

The idea of getting one’s business in front of the target audience remains a crucial step.

Yet getting this done continues to become harder and harder. The number of marketing messages grows on a daily basis. As the number of messages grow, consumers are just tuning out more and more of them. Some estimates suggest that 90% of the messages placed before us don’t even register in our minds.

So business owners face getting noticed among the forest of competing marketing messages.

A couple of year’s ago, I did a blog for Small Business Survival in which I noted the importance of networking. That remains one effective tool.

Another tool is the importance of “you” the owner. Your efforts in networking as well as in establishing the brand, reputation, and identity of your business are crucial.

Third, develop your ambassadors. Today with social media and third-party review sites, this step perhaps is easier than it has even been. Encourage people to rate their experience with your company. Just this last weekend, my wife and I ate a favorite restaurant. As we finished our meal, the staff person at our table brought us a postcard and said if we liked our meal to send the card to a friend. The card offered a discount. What a great way to encourage people to spread the word.

The bottom line is that your customer will typically not find you without a great deal of effort on your part. Marketing is key to a successful business.

 

Being Effective Online

Online tipsHaving an effective online presence is as important as simply being online.

Being online will bring some likes and friends, but that  activity will come from people who already know you or from your family and friends. What you want is an online presence that creates awareness of your business, or educational efforts in our case, and keeps that customer coming back for more. The goal is to make your customer a lifetime ambassador for your business.

Part of our Power of Business effort has been to get first-hand experience on reaching those goals. This video is a first report on our initial efforts as we develop platforms and writing titles that sell. Examples of what we learned are shared plus you get a peek at the on-going effort where we look at the power of Facebook and the Facebook ad.

Online is huge and it matters. Getting found though is often the issue. Just today I read that 2 million blog posts are put online each day. Add that to all of the tweets, posts, pictures, and videos posted, you can see why you need to focus on being efficient and effective in your online efforts.

In the video various types of content formats are discussed. Here at Power of Business we curate content, offer videos, do our monthly chats, provide some short fact sheets, and, of course, our blog.

Admittedly getting online is a scary undertaking. This is where a team can help you out as can a personal learning network. Dipping your toe into the online world may mean finding people you can learn from. There is nothing wrong with lurking and learning.  In time, you can begin to ask questions.

An effective online presence means you need to write, think and act differently. People want information quickly and they are typically focused on one problem at a time. You also need to offer some fun and flair. At times you may feel more like an entertainer than an educator. You also need to be flexible and be able to change quickly.

So get online. Engage and network with your customer base. Enhance their online experience. It builds your bottom line!!

Find the Powerpoint slides here at “Are We Entrepreneurs?”

 

Trends Influencing Your Small Business

It is important to remain aware of and be prepared to respond to trends that may influence your business.

Dr. Connie Reimers-Hild took some time to look at three mega-trends she views as influencing rural, small businesses. Watch the first of her videos that examines the gig-economy.

What’s the gig-economy? It is many things but one element is self-employment, or freelancing in her terminology. Her information shows this is a rapidly growing trend.

So take a look. Read more about it here.

And then take a few moments to think about how this and the two other trends, Living with Purpose and Meaning and The Decentralized Marketplace, are and will continue to influence your business.