Marketing Tips for Farm Markets from Eagle Point Farm
Posted: September 17, 2012
Twenty-nine years ago Steve and Gayle Ganser started their adventure in farming selling to a 600 home huckster route and over 40 restaurants in the Valley. Over time, they have concentrated on their retail location and now sell almost all the produce and bedding plants grown on their 15 acre farm through their farm stand. Here are a few marketing tips from Gayle:
Find your niche
Eagle Point has become known for their wide variety of interesting and unusual herbs and perennials. Although they grow everything from asparagus to zucchini, their herbs and perennials set them apart. One reason Gayle and Steve focus on herbs and bedding plants is the income potential. “The same people who will gripe about $2.49 a pound for tomatoes will spend $300 a week on bedding plants during the spring,” Gayle told us. Spring plant sales kick off their season and by focusing on varieties no one else produces they have created a name for the farm.
Stellar customer service
If you have ever gone to Eagle Point Farm Market you know the moment you walk in the door that the customer service is great. Gayle knows 85 percent of her customers by name and she or one of the girls who work with her are always there to talk to customers. “You learn to read customer body language,” Gayle told us. For example, many customers will make a short circuit through the front area and not find what they are looking for and start to leave. By simply asking if she can help them find something, Gayle can often point them to the product they were looking for but missed or another similar product to substitute. Ideas on recipes and favorite varieties are always forthcoming, with a box of recipes ready at hand. Gayle genuinely cares about her customers and remembers details about where they went for summer vacation, health of relatives and items they prefer. “In order to compete, we have to add customer service,” Gayle told us.
Have you ever wondered why the milk and eggs are in the back of the grocery store? This is classic customer flow management. You want customers to walk past many other products before they get to the one they are looking for. For example, at Eagle Point the sweet corn is at the back of the store rather than near the door. It can also be helpful to move these products around in order to break people’s patterns. Remember to think about how patterns may be different during different parts of the year. For example, during bedding plant season folks are coming in from the outside area, near the flowers, while during the summer they come in from the parking lot. Once you know where they are coming from you can use color to attract customers to different parts of the store. “Colorful displays draw people,” Gayle told us. And draw us they did. A full display of peaches enticed us in the door and then a colorful display of multicolored peppers piled high brought us to the back corner of the store. Colorful flowers everywhere throughout the store drew the eye from one section to the next.
For farm markets, location can be everything. Steve and Gayle did a lot of research before they decided on the location for their farm market which is ten miles from the farm. They saw from a study at the time that Macungie was one of the fasted growing townships in the state and projected that their customer base would increase. The location is also right on Route 100, a very busy regional highway as well as minutes off Route 222. Locating the store just ten miles closer to Allentown than the farm also made it more accessible for this large urban base and moved them a distance from the many roadside farm markets close to Kutztown where the farm is located.
Eagle Point has made the jump to social media marketing, but still maintains a presence in local papers. “The 35 and unders follow social media like a hawk,” Gayle told us. Twenty minutes after posting that a variety of peaches are in, a customer often walks in the door asking for them. In order to jump-start the season, Gayle runs coupons in the local paper. She knows it works due to the number of coupons brought in. Additional advertising in local papers throughout the season keeps their presence in the customer’s mind.