In my last few farm marketing posts, we learned how to pitch your farm’s story to local papers and how to share your products with online influencers to get great reviews.
In this post, I am sharing the surprising way I've gotten local papers, major podcasts, and online bloggers to seek me out, instead of me having to pitch my farm. This tip also has grown customer awareness for our local area for our farm and boosted sales. So what is my special ingredient that makes this magic happen?
It’s all about having a clear cause on behalf of your farm. Let's dive in!
What cause did I start that garnered attention?
In early 2018, I launched a sustainable packaging initiative called #PackagingForThePlanet. This initiative puts gentle pressure on companies to seek more earth-friendly packaging options for their products. Anyone can join for free, they get sent an email every month with the company info, they copy/paste an email message and send it to the company, and we wait for their response. Our hope is to show these companies that their customers care about these things. By sending over 150 emails in one day, then sharing their response publicly, we’ve created an open dialogue with others.
Our farm centers around sustainability and earth-care, so a cause like this fits in perfectly with our values. This cause has generated a ton of spotlight for the farm and gets “gatekeepers” excited about what I’m doing on the farm (and off it too!).
What (or "who") are gatekeepers?
Gatekeepers are those who can get your message, your farm, and your products, out in front of a massive amount of people. ModFarm is a gatekeeper, so are Countryside Living Magazine, Mother Earth News, and Acres USA. These types of platforms take notice of good causes within the farming community and want to share them with their following. Thus, they are a gatekeeper to growing your customer base.
Gatekeepers don't always have to be huge publications or national platforms - they can be smaller and more local to you. If you sell your farm products on a local or regional level only, then seek out gatekeepers at those levels. If you ship products nationwide, then absolutely shoot for the big dogs.
I highly recommend finding and taking note of the gatekeepers that would be applicable to your farm and the potential causes you could come up with to garner attention. For the last five years, I've kept a running list of the gatekeepers I hope to network with or catch their eye through my efforts. I am always adding to this list too!
Now the trick is to find a good cause to get behind and map out the time you’ll spend working on it.
How to create a cause on behalf of your farm
To figure out what cause you could amplify and create a movement around, I’ve put together an exercise for you. Open up a Google doc or Word doc and answer the following:
1. What current issues affect you deeply?
Whether its supporting veterans, getting local clean healthy food to underprivileged families, cleaning up your local streets of garbage, or protecting women’s rights - write down a list of what really gets your blood pumping.
2. Are there any local or regional issues that you are deeply moved by and want to do something about?
Starting on a smaller scale is a huge win from the get-go, most likely you will have friends and neighbors who care too and want to help you. This also is “front page magic” for local reporters.
3. Choose three issues that stand out to you and come up with three ways you can help resolve each of those issues.
Say you want to stop your local public works from spraying the weeds at all the public parks (just in case you think it can’t be done, Katrina Blair with Turtle Lake Refuge successfully did it!). You could try putting together an anti-spray petition for your city council, you could host a weed awareness workshop at your local library, or you could do a park and playground boycott with local moms and share about it on social media. Don’t write off any idea as silly, this is brainstorming time.
4. How much time per week can you feasibly donate to your cause?
Before you think this is going to take mass organization and time, let me tell you I spend an average of 15 minutes a week on #PackagingForThePlanet. It’s completely up to you how much time you devote to your potential cause. It’s also up to you how you set up taking action - is it mainly online or does it require face to face time with others. This is why it’s crucial you choose a cause you deeply care about, otherwise, it starts to feel like work and you resent the time you have to spend on it.
Now take some time to mull your ideas over. I had many ideas for causes, and even variations of what #PackagingForThePlanet could look like, but goodness, I’m happy I settled on the one I did. It has the potential to make a huge impact, it’s gained our farm a lot of exposure, and I enjoy doing it.
Coming up short on ideas? Here's a short list to get your started!
Farmer + Marketer in the Spotlight
A perfect example of choosing a cause on behalf of your farm is Katelyn Duban of WildRoseFarmer.com. Katelyn is an organic grain and oilseed farmer in Canada and married into a farming family.
After the trials and tribulations of learning about farm life as a former city girl, she took it upon herself to share her story on a blog. In sharing her story online, she realized tons of other women had similar stories, as well as different ones when it came to farming.
In order to give these women the platform they needed to connect and tell their own stories, she created The Rural Woman Podcast. Since launching this project in March of 2018, she has hit over 25000 downloads, grown her IG following by 8000+, and was even been approached by a major television network.
She now has an official sponsor for the podcast who covers her costs and on top of that, she sells her branded farming t-shirts to women and men all over the world (I own one myself). Katelyn looked around her, found a cause she cares deeply about, and dove in.
You can do the same thing for your farm.
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Thanks for stopping by Green Willow Homestead! From chicken rearing to composting, we've got our hands full and we love sharing what we've learned along the way. Follow along as we turn the 80 acres we call home into a farm that serves its community and a homestead that nourishes us throughout the seasons.
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