Assessing this Year's Marketing Strategy

Posted: November 28, 2010

Having concluded another market season - I start to wonder about how it might have been different this past year and what might we do to steer our direction for 2011. Let’s spend a few moments wrapping our minds around how well we met our marketing objects this past year. By doing this we begin the steps needed to make changes for the coming marketing season.

Discussing the effectiveness of marketing outcomes – I believe we do well to start at the end; “What is expected to be accomplished by our marketing machine?” Sell 250 cases? Build relationships with 3 new buyers? Make enough to take my mother in-law on a vacation?


What is it we want to happen? What result would make us happy?


We can then state if we reached this objective and/or how we came up short. What is it we wanted to do? What is it we did? What could be done this coming year? This gives us evidence to work through as we begin planning and implementing a market strategy for this coming season.


Some decision points that may help us explore the effectiveness of this past year’s marketing goals, strategies, and methods include:


·         Number of customers attracted – across all our outlets


·         Number of customers served – across all our outlets


·         Number of transactions per customer through the marketing season


·         Average dollar amount per customer transaction


·         Total marketing costs


·         Total gross revenue


·         Net farm revenue


·         FMNP coupons redeemed


Having identified some key business metrics to analysis will get us thinking more clearly on the records we believe have value and our system for keeping these records. Some possible things to keep track of include:

·         Legal issues such as sales tax reports (if applicable), permits, licenses, insurance coverage, employee documentation.

·         Financial issues such as projected budgets compared with actual costs and returns, credit worthiness, seasonal (weekly?) cost and revenue

·         Promotional issues such as the costs of our promotional efforts, indications of customer traffic resulting from these promotions

·         Production issues such as yields, challenges, seasonal observations

·         At-market issues such as use of props, attractive displays, product choice, customer service, pricing strategies


Considering how well our enterprises have done compared with both what we needed them to do and what we expected them to do is an exercise with powerful implications. I have heard people talk about farmers not operating as business managers. While it may be true that farmers farm because they love to produce, not because they love to manage. It can be quite difficult to remain an economically viable business if our responsibilities as business managers are not addressed. The concepts of management and marketing are well known. The challenge sometimes lies in our self confidence as managers. There are several educational opportunities over the next few months. Through active participation in some field demonstrations, discussion groups, workshops and conferences we will have exposure to methods, tools and ideas on more effectively guiding, maintaining and growing our farm business.


In addition to educational opportunities, there are services available from Penn State Cooperative Extension targeted at enhancing the management skills of farm marketers. These services  include market customer surveys, market evaluations, one-on-one management and marketing consultations.


Building our capacity as business managers and effective marketers is a continuous process. Some believe we are never the best we can be.