Today on the podcast I’ve got the 5 most common mistakes farmers make (and how to avoid them) whether you’re brand new or have been farming for 30+ years.
Since I’ve worked with thousands of farmers over the years, I’m seeing a trend of mistakes that result in farms closing and families needing to sell land and let go of their dream.
It’s my mission to give you the information and tools to help you succeed and become a profitable farm, no matter what you sell.
And the good news is there has never been a better time to start a small farm business!!
Farm Fresh Food is Hip & Cool
Farming is not like it used to be! When I was a kid it was what we “poor farm kids ate” at school while the more sophisticated kids had processed food in cool shapes, colors and packaging. Now it’s hip to eat from the farm!
The internet provides unlimited opportunities to meet and connect with customers and farmers from all over the world. By embracing the internet, the playing field is leveled in terms of technology tools needed to start the business.
Experiences are Profitable
Have a red barn that holds 100 people for a wedding?
Can you offer farm tours or summer camps?
If you offer an experience to your community, you will turn every visitor into a customer!
“Agri-tourism” experiences are profitable and also make a larger population aware of farm fresh food, it taps in to their emotions and leaves them craving the experience and the products you raise.
If Farming Is So Cool And “Easy” Then Why Are Farmers Going out of Business?
They’re making mistakes that are costly from the very beginning. It’s not “easy” and farming is a get-your-hands-dirty industry.
It takes a special person, with a driven passion for a farmer to become profitable.
New farmers also struggle to increase sales and charge enough. Their profit margins suffer as a result.
But that will not be you.
Here are 5 mistakes new farmers make that you need to avoid ASAP if you’re going to be a sustainable and profitable farm.
Mistake #1: You’re selling to “everyone”
The first mistake I see farmers make is they jump in to sell without identifying who specifically they’re selling to.
Farmers don’t know who their “Dream Customer” is.
You figure that if you sell to everyone, they you’ll make a “few” sales.
The problem is and what you don’t realize is, when you narrow your target market your marketing efforts will be far more effective — and profitable!
I teach farmers step-by-step how to know who the best dream customer is for your farm and then how to find more of them.
“If you’re selling to everyone, you’re not selling to anyone!”
Trying to reach a mass market means your marketing efforts are diluted and sales will always be a struggle.
When you learn who exactly it is you’re selling to and you focus your marketing towards him/her…
- An increase in sales
- Customer loyalty skyrocket
- Referrals increased
- Customers willing to pay your prices
Mistake #2: Selling your products instead of marketing a solution
The average person doesn’t wake up in the morning and think, “I’m going to go out and find a place where I can buy a $30 pastured chicken.”
And yet, when most farmers send an email, post to Facebook, or create flyers, etc, they’re selling this product that they think people are looking for.
Instead, it’s important to know our customers are searching for a solution to a struggle they have or a way to reach a goal.
They aren’t trying to find organic, Non-GMO bones from cows that are rotated to fresh pasture daily, they’re trying to heal their health issues with bone broth.
They aren’t searching for a way to drive an hour out into the country every week to buy sustainably grown veggies raised on a 5th generation family farm – they just want crisp, fresh vegetables that won’t go bad in 2 days like the ones they buy at the grocery store.
Your product is the solution to the question, struggle, or goal people have.
“It’s your responsibility to connect your product as the solution to their struggle or goal!”
So the next time you try to sell your pastured eggs, market them as, “The best way to get a nourishing breakfast that’ll keep you full until lunch”, or, Hard boil these farm fresh eggs for a delicious post-workout Paleo snack!”.
When you offer your product as the solution to their problem, you’ve hit marketing gold!
Again, I teach my 5x clients, farmers from all over, exactly how to figure this out.
Mistake #3: You’re selling on social media
I see many posts on both those social media platforms full of farmers products.
“Buy our CSA share”
“Pre-order chickens today”
“10 dollar daffodil bunches”
But the problem with that is social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram were not designed for you to sell your products.
They were designed for people like you and I to connect with our friends and families, laugh at funny videos, share photos we find inspirational. We don’t visit these platforms to see a bunch of posts to ‘BUY NOW’!
Once you start posting salesy posts, people get what’s called “ad blindness,” meaning they scroll right on by your posts knowing that you’re just hawking your wares instead of trying to connect with them personally.
When you use social media platforms (how they’re intended), as a place to be social and engage — you build an audience who loves to see what you’re posting because it’s inspirational, educational or engaging, NOT salesy.
This method builds an engaged email list of loyal customers who will snap up what you have for sale…
But only when done correctly. Social media is about building connections and engaging. Not selling everyday and posting photos of raw chicken breast.
“Instead of selling, make about 80-90% of your posts engaging, inspiring, and personal. Only 10-20% of your posts should relate around what you’re selling.”
This will show your followers you care about them and can help them solve a problem or reach a goal, and THIS is what inspires them to buy.
You will see your following grow and grow when you do this! You’ll be top of mind when they need products like yours, and they’ll tell their friends.
Mistake #4: You’re not building your email list
Not collecting emails from people is a massive mistake.
Say you’re at a farmers’ market and someone stops by your booth. They’re not ready to buy yet, they just want to look. How do you connect with that person again to build a relationship with them – so then they remember you next time they’re at the farmers’ market?
Get their email!! There’s no other way that works.
If you think, “But that’s so awkward to ask for their email.”
No worries. I teach you how step-by-step in a non-icky non-awkward way that feels amazing to you and the customer both.
Mistake #5: You lack confidence
You’re not alone. I’ve been there and still experience this every time I need to get out and meet with customers in person, raise my prices, or have a chat with that one problem customer (you know what I mean!).
I think we all start out lacking confidence in our farming skills, our marketing skills, our pricing skills. Pretty much everything to do with farming!!
“Confidence building takes practice — with practice, confidence improves.”
That means, you just have to do the hard work of farming — you have to get out there, start talking with customers and clicking “send” on those price increase emails.
The more you practice these activities, the more your confidence will increase.
If you identify as an introvert, I have an exercise that will help you confidently do what you need to create sales.
After working with thousands of farmers, I’m convinced you can avoid these mistakes.
Now it’s your turn, what mistake have you been making with your farm business?
What action will you take to make the change?
“I paid for ALL of my perennial flowers for my farm AND my tuition to your program for the year with the perennial plant sale launch you reviewed.
All of the suggestions you gave were so good, and I am totally reworking my flower bouquet CSA launch after a few of the marketing calls several times.
Marketing does not come naturally to me, but I feel like something new clicks into place every time I get coached on it.“
~ Elizabeth – 5x Your Farm Sales Member