3: Direct Marketing/Marketing Outlets
For those with the time and resources to spare, direct marketing can increase both revenue and local awareness of an agricultural enterprise. While the prospect of eliminating the middle man is alluring, bear in mind the added labor and costs that diversifying your business can entail. For more on direct marketing and other material related to value-added agriculture, please refer to Chapter IV.
Direct marketing is now more than just having a farm stand. There are numerous direct marketing outlets to consider and choose from. In general, direct marketing offers a number of advantages over wholesale marketing. Typically higher prices can be placed on products, there's a high level of interaction with customers - if that's desirable to you, and direct sales often serve as a gateway to potential wholesale customers. However, direct market outlets are usually seasonal in nature leading to less consistent cash flow throughout the year. Additionally, there can be low delivery efficiency, depending on specific outlet you choose. The important thing is to thoroughly research each outlet type and determine which best fits with your operation and business goals.
Penn State Extension offers a number of publications on specific direct marketing outlets. These include: Agricultural Alternatives: Community Supported Agriculture and Agricultural Alternatives: Developing a Roadside Farm Market. Additionally, the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) provides news, information, and guidelines for starting your own Farmers' Markets. AMS also tool for finding farmers' markets in your area Farmers' Market Search
Fruit and vegetable growers face additional challenges when direct marketing due to post harvest handling issues and product suitability for fresh market vs. processing. The publication, Agricultural Alternatives: Fruit and Vegetable Marketing for Small-scale and Part-time Growers, provides a thorough overview of direct marketing focused on issues relevant to these growers.
Marketing Meat Animals Directly to Consumers, Penn State Extension
A discussion of the advantages and disadvantages to direct marketing of livestock and meats.
For direct marketers, promotion of their business is essential to marketing success. Guide books or directories, both hard copy and online, are common and valuable promotional tools. Ag Map is one such online searchable directory of America's agricultural businesses which includes producers, processors, and service providers. AgMap contains listings of not only traditional agricultural businesses, but also the businesses in forestry, turf grass, landscaping, nursery and much more.
Advertising, is a useful promotional tool and one that most are familiar with. The Center for Profitable Agriculture with University of Tennessee Extension has an introductory publication, Advertising 101.
This site features many links covering a variety of informational topics.
Direct Marketing as a Value-Added Opportunity for Agriculture
This site contains information covering the many direct marketing opportunities available to value-added producers.
Direct Marketing of Your Production and Products, Penn State Extension
Eliminating the "middle man" from the marketing stream of your product or production.
Web, Social Media, and Direct Mail Marketing
Penn State marketing information.