Some marketing plans are costly and time-intensive. The pay-off of investing in such marketing can be beneficial, but expensive and time sucking isn't something every business can pull off. If you need some decent marketing ideas that won't break the bank or suck away all your precious time, check out the low-cost DIY marketing ideas below.
Websites aren't free and they do take some time. Still, overall business websites are a must have because they offer you a huge bang for your buck and if you use a decent host, the actual website building can go very quickly.
First choose a decent website host, such as Bluehost. Bluehost offers pricing as low as $5 per month and unbeatable customer service (think real people answering phones). They also offer domains if you need one, plus easy to build and maintain websites.
Next, set up a small game plan that covers how much time you'll spend each week or month updating your site. Simply having a business website will increase your visibility, but you will need to set aside a bit of time each month to make sure your site is appealing, working well and promoting your business.
If you decide to go beyond your website, you can dive into social media for free and it takes very little time to participate if you plan it right. There are plenty of social media sites you can join, but if you want to make the most of your time, choose two or three sites only and maximize your participation on them.
3. Give Casual Farm Tours a Whirl
Agritourism can be extremely time intensive, if you make it so. However, you can also initiate some very simple, yet effective tours of your organic farm that will appeal to families and increase your marketing reach.
Farm stays and tours tend to appeal to families who want to visit a farm and experience its activities. Americans are very disconnected from nature and agriculture so promoting activities that help bring people back to both can be beneficial for everyone. Keep farm tours casual and tie them in with special events, such as fall harvest or summer berries. You don't have to spend much to promote tours and the most necessary equipment here are people skills and a few free hours a month.
Planning your farm tours is easy thanks to The Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board. This organization offers a wonderfully useful Wisconsin Dairy Farm Tour Booklet that works as a fast reference for helping you throw a successful farm tour. The ideas in the booklet can be easily adapted to other farms too, not just dairy.
4. Try Email Marketing
A perk of a service such as Aweber is that you pay a low monthly cost (under $20 for most smaller businesses) then they provide you with everything you need to email news, deals and coupons to your customers. Email marketing with Aweber is really simple and can be done in just a few hours a month after you get the hang of their easy to use system.
Customer education surrounding organics is practically free and ensures your customers know enough about organics to keep on buying them. Research shows that when consumers are well educated about organics they are far more likely to buy organics. Research also shows that consumer education builds repeat customers.
One easy, low-cost way to educate consumers are inexpensively printed fliers promoting organic benefits that you can place near grocery displays, tuck into CSA boxes or mail out to a small circulation area. Also, simply making yourself available is wise. If a customer wants to chat, don't keep quiet. Answer questions and be 100% helpful and available so that you build trust and educate your customers at the same time.
Some farms or organic manufacturers limit themselves by only growing or producing goods during a couple of distinct seasons.
As an existing organic farm or manufacturer, transitioning to year-round production can be costly. However, if you're starting up a new organic farm or business, consider working year-round goods into your plan before it becomes cost prohibitive. A business that's viable and visible year-round is much more consistent for consumers, thus helping you keep customers in your fold, vs. them going elsewhere.
7. Create Visibility with Name Saturation
It's crazy how many small businesses forget the little things. For example, you can make your business more visible and reachable simply by including your business name and website link in every single email you send out. You should also print your logo, address, phone and website link on all the business paper you send out, including stationery, envelopes, faxes and customer receipts.
8. Write & Send Simple Press Releases
A decent press release can be a good business promotion tool so long as the news you're sharing is actually newsworthy, not simply marketing as normal. Topics that deserve a press release may include business expansions, very cool new products or seasonal crops, promotions you're engaged in, such as a charity event or if you win an award.
To gain the most benefit from press releases, make sure it's well written. If you're not a writer, see if you know someone who is and who may be willing to take a trade (say, a box of produce) in exchange for a press release. If need be, hire someone to write your press release, rather than send out a poorly written one but now you're in the realm of costly. It's better to practice and learn to write your own press releases if possible.
When sending your press release, be sure to hit up local newspapers, local consumer minded publications and don't forget business websites that post news. For example, at this Organic Business site you're reading right now, I post press releases on the blog if they're useful and related to organics. That said, be sure to search out websites that share business-related information and get your press release to them.