Get the full event checklist here:
Farm Event Checklist Here
Food in our society is a commodity. In other words, the cheaper the better. That’s what the average shoppers expect.
As a farmer, it is impossible to compete with the low prices and convenience of any industrially priced food.
Unfortunately, many farmers do try to compete on price and convenience, and they find they can’t keep it up and they’re out of business within a year or two. Or, they continue pumping money into their business from their off-farm job or savings.
Again, completely unsustainable.
As farmers, though, we do have an opportunity to level the playing field, a way that can help us rise to the top in the competitive game, to the point where there is no longer any competition.
And that opportunity is the experience, the connection, and the feeling we can give a customer or potential customer when they come across us on the internet or in person.
Perhaps you’ve heard me say it or read it in my book, “when you practice marketing from the heart, there is no competition.” And our marketing students experience this daily.
Many farmers overlook this great opportunity. When you can connect with your customers (from the heart) they will be loyal and price is no longer a concern.
How can you meet customers and gain exposure to your farm? PLAN EVENTS
Give people a reason to drive to your farm and see what you’re doing and interact with you. The event itself is not as important as the opportunity to interact with the potential customers.
You can plan and schedule a paid farm tour for a Saturday morning (I always charge $20 minimum, so people show up.) You’ll have people coming for the tour, bringing their family, experiencing farm-life and you’ll make a little money, too.
Plus, they’ll be hooked and want to come back again and again. The connection they make with you (their farmer) and the experience they have will be worth driving miles to buy from you.
Most of our customers drive 30-60+ minutes one-way to pick up their order at our farm. Many of them would never drive out of their way for a dozen eggs. The reason they do is because I’ve made a connection with them.
Not only do they go home with eggs, they’ll now drive an hour one way for their eggs, milk and chicken because they now have an emotional connection to us and our farm.
All from a simple farm tour!
And they don’t concern themselves with price, because they aren’t shopping with us for the price. They’re now shopping with us for the experience and the emotional connection we intentionally created with them.
Here are all the events I’ve hosted through the years to build a strong, loyal (and profitable) customer base from the start:
- Cheese/home dairying classes
- Bread baking classes
- Farm tours
- Kids camps
- Teen camps
- Farm to table dinner
- Milk the cow class
- Yoga (without goats, or with if you prefer)
- Book club
- Wine tastings
- Nutrition classes
- Lard making classes
And I didn’t need any special training to host any of these events! Being a dairy woman, I already knew how to make butter, yogurt and several cheeses.
So I started inviting people over to make it with me and it soon morphed into classes at $150/person.
Then, I invited my girlfriend over to teach bread baking. Boy, did we have fun baking, eating our way through class, and every one of those women couldn’t wait to come back again and again and shop with us.
Plus, they told all their friends.
Do you know how many people have “cow milking” on their bucket list? That was one of our most popular events! And again, they are customers for life after milking a cow.
Pet a kitten, feed the horse a carrot, get snotted on by a cow — when these things happen to people they are connected to you for life.
And cost is no object to experience these things you can’t find on Google or Amazon! They are happy to pay the sustainable price you need to charge, even if it’s double what the local farm stand or store is charging.
And here are things I’ve learned over the years to research or plan for when scheduling your next event on the farm:
- Rules/boundaries for guests
- Bathroom facility
- Bottled water for hot days
- Extra help - parking, socializing, showing to the toilet, answering Q's while you teach/lead and clean up help
If you’re looking to grow your customer base and build a profit, plan and host an event where you give customers an experience of a lifetime.