Developing your Business’s Social Media Marketing Strategy

In a 2017 survey of over 3,000 consumers in the U.S., Germany, Colombia, and Mexico, 35% of people reported they go to social media for information when they’re considering buying something and want to research options. That figure was closer to 50% for consumers aged 18-34.

As small businesses and entrepreneurs consider how they will market their products, social media can offer numerous potential benefits – from helping build brand awareness, to offering a way of reaching large audiences in a cost effective way, and driving traffic to a business’s website, among many other opportunities.

An individual working at a computer.

Developing a Social Media Strategy

Consider these four questions from a 2020 Harvard Business Review article as you develop your social media strategy:

  1. “What are your goals?”

Are you trying to expand to a new geography? Launch a new product? Increase sales? Whatever the answer, your strategy should be tailored to fit your goals, so start out by identifying those goals. Remember to ensure your goals are SMART – specific, measurable, action-oriented, realistic, and timed.

  1. “Which platforms should you use?”

Different social media platforms have different formats, business tools, and more. For example, Facebook has useful business tools like detailed analytics and allows businesses to incorporate lots of information like contact details and hours of operation. Meanwhile, Pinterest and Instagram are highly visual platforms with focus on photo and video content; categories like food and DIY projects are some of Pinterest’s most popular categories. Check out the “Social media platforms for businesses” section of this recent article from Business News Daily to learn about the different business tools and formats of major social media platforms.

  1. “What is your content strategy?”

Will you use pictures? Video? To develop effective digital marketing for a small business, entrepreneurs will need to consider the type of content that is right for them based on their target customers, their resources, and more. Authors writing for the Harvard Business Review counsel, “Your content should be unique, useful, and shareable.”

  1. “Are you ready to talk with your audience – in real time?”

Social media platforms offer opportunities for businesses to engage with their customers and it is important for businesses to relate to and interact with customers on social platforms. As one author shared tips for businesses using social media, “Create a consistent voice and tone . . . one that resonates with your audience and influences how they see your brand.” If you’re using social media for customer service functions, consider that 42% of consumers expect a business to respond to complaints raised via social media within 60 minutes.

Upcoming “Foodpreneur School” to Focus on Social Media Marketing for Food & Farm Entrepreneurs

If you’re a food and farm entrepreneur ready to learn more about using social media marketing, join us in Hillsboro, Ohio on Tuesday, October 25, 2022! Foodpreneur School is an educational program for food and farm entrepreneurs who are ready to grow through enhanced sales and marketing. Speakers at the October 25 session will include experts from Ohio State University sharing the ins-and-outs of social media marketing for small business and insights on creating impactful video content for marketing. The session will include hands-on learning opportunities and entrepreneurs are encouraged to bring along their preferred devices (mobile phone, tablet, laptop, etc.) for managing their social media presence. Learn more about the session and sign up for no-cost online!

If you require an accommodation, such as translation, to participate in this event, please contact Samantha Black at black.1156@osu.edu or 614-247-9705. Requests made two weeks in advance, will generally allow us to provide seamless access, but the university will make every effort to meet requests made after this date.

CFAES provides research and related educational programs to clientele on a nondiscriminatory basis. For more information, visitcfaesdiversity.osu.edu.

Are you a small business using online marketing? Learn about legal basics of branding and marketing in our digital world!

Did you know that internet users spend an average of almost three hours per day on the internet? Three hours! In explaining why digital marketing should be a priority for small businesses, one author shared, “even if you are not selling your product or service online, then you likely could still count yon your target audience being on the internet at some point during any given day.” As people spend significant amounts of time online and social media platforms offer numerous opportunities for small businesses as they market their products and services, like the ability to connect with huge audiences for little or no cost, it should be no surprise that an estimated 91% of small businesses allocated resources to digital marketing in 2021.

Graphic of marketing images, including retail storefront, smartphone, online application, and computer.

But have you ever considered the potential legal implications of your online marketing? For example, a 2016 fact sheet, “The Legal Implications of Social Media Marketing & Advertising,” shared the following potential legal considerations for businesses using social media:

  • Social media posts could be considered ‘corporate speech’ and be used against companies in lawsuits, for example in false advertising and other claims. (This is one reason it is important for businesses to identify authorized users and develop written policies about how social media accounts are used or maintained.)
  • Social media activities may be subject to regulatory laws and agencies like the Federal Trade Commission, National Labor Relations Act, and the Food & Drug Administration
  • Issues around content ownership can have important impacts – for example, businesses need permission to use content generated by other users, including content that includes their products or incorporates their brands.
  • Digital marketing spaces create considerations around the use, protection, and monitoring of intellectual property like trademarks and copyrights.

“Legal Basics of Branding and Marketing: What to know in a digital world” seminar to be held in Piketon, Ohio

Entrepreneurs interested in learning more about the legal basics of branding and marketing can attend a free education session in Piketon, Ohio on Wednesday, August 17, 2022. The session is one of three educational presentations by legal professionals as part of the event, “Building Legally Resilient Small Businesses: Quick Advice Legal Clinic for Entrepreneurs,” which will be co-hosted by the Entrepreneurial Business Law Clinic at Ohio State’s Moritz College of Law and partner business development programs at the OSU South Centers. During the evening program on Wednesday, August 17, 2022, entrepreneurs can participate in one or all three free public education sessions on common legal issues for small businesses. There is no cost to participate in the program, but registration is required.

6:00 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. – “Legal Basics of Branding and Marketing: What to know in a digital world,” taught by Patrick Perkins, OSU Moritz College of Law

6:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. – “Legal Structures for Small Business,” taught by Paige Wilson, OSU Moritz College of Law

7:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. – “Working with Independent Contractors,” taught by Jacqueline Radebaugh, Jason Wiener p.c.

Entrepreneurs can also sign up for no-cost, one-on-one consultations with volunteer attorneys to explore their legal questions and receive guidance in areas like business structures, employment, contracts, marketing and advertising, worker and other cooperatives, commercial real estate, and more. Sessions will last up to 30 minutes and participants can register for up to two sessions. Entrepreneurs interested in a one-on-one appointment will be asked to submit basic information about their legal question so staff members can try to match participants with a volunteer attorney whose practice area most closely matches their legal question. Please note, space is limited.

Event Details: August 17, 2022, 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.

LOCATION: OSU South Centers Endeavor Center

1862 Shyville Road, Piketon, Ohio 45661

COST: No cost to attend, but registration is required.

Register by visiting go.osu.edu/legalclinic

Questions? Reach out to Hannah Scott at scott.1220@osu.edu or 614-247-9705.

If you require an accommodation, such as translation, to participate in this event, please contact Samantha Black at black.1156@osu.edu or 614-247-9705. Requests made by August 3, 2022, will generally allow us to provide seamless access, but the university will make every effort to meet requests made after this date.

CFAES provides research and related educational programs to clientele on a nondiscriminatory basis. For more information, visitcfaesdiversity.osu.edu.

Beef Co-op’s Marketing Efforts Offer Insights for Local Food Entrepreneurs

For every business, getting marketing right is key. For food entrepreneurs selling directly to consumers at farmer’s markets, farm stands, online, in grocery stores, and via subscriptions, telling their story through marketing is vital to reaching their target customer demographic to enhance sales. But how do food entrepreneurs — especially those selling locally produced products through local supply chains –know which marketing channels to use?

The farmer-owners of Buckeye Valley Beef Cooperative, a young co-op marketing locally raised beef in southwest Ohio, set out to answer that question. They wanted to know how they could maximize their marketing efforts to generate new customers and sales for their farmer-owners. In 2019, the co-op proposed and was awarded a project to the 2019 Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (SARE) Farmer/Rancher grant program. Their project would help the co-op develop, implement, and then measure the effectiveness of four new advertising channels: Google ads, billboards, radio advertisements, and Facebook ads. The co-op placed their ads, some of which were created in consultation with marketing professionals at the companies they purchased advertising through, and then tracked whether their efforts translated into new customer orders. What they learned can offer insights to other local food producers, particularly those selling meat.

Readers can learn more about the project, the co-op’s experiences, and the results in a presentation by a founding member of the co-op available above as a part of The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences online Farm Science Review.

What Did the Co-op Learn?

  • Facebook ads and radio ads on the local public radio channel were the most effective new advertising channels the co-op tested. Facebooks ads resulted in an astounding 10900% return on the dollars invested in the channel. Also, co-op members were surprised to learn that radio ads resulted in an 85% return on their investment.
  • Some new advertising channels took a lot of time and energy to learn. The co-op relies on volunteer labor and they took a team approach to implementing the new advertising methods. Even so, learning the ins-and-outs of utilizing certain channels took a significant time investment.
  • Word of mouth is still the most effective marketing strategy for the co-op. Sales from customers who reported learning about the cooperative by word of mouth dwarfed sales generated from customers who reported finding out about the co-op through one of the new advertising channels. This reinforces the idea that food entrepreneurs should ensure they are paying close attention to customer experiences and creating ways for their customers to share their excitement about their products.

About Buckeye Valley Beef Cooperative

Buckeye Valley Beef Cooperative was formed in 2016 by southwest Ohio farmers who wanted to expand their markets for locally raised beef and to increase their farmer incomes. The co-op markets beef to retailers and directly to consumers. You can learn more about the cooperative via the video, Buckeye Valley Beef Cooperative: Our Story  The co-op’s farmer members were supported by the CFAES Center for Cooperatives in their start-up and the development of their SARE proposal.

Foodpreneur Coaching: Crafting a Blueprint to Grow Your Food and Farm Business

The CFAES Center for Cooperatives is working to help businesses keep things moving forward in these difficult times. Marketing is a key aspect to maintaining or growing any business, including food and farm businesses.

The CFAES Center for Cooperatives, OSU Extension Direct Food & Agricultural Marketing Team, and Ohio Farm Bureau in Ross, Hocking, Fairfield, and Pickaway counties are hosting a virtual interactive experience for small and medium food entrepreneurs who are eager to grow their businesses. Foodpreneur School Coaching will give attendees an opportunity to engage with experts in marketing and promoting their local food and farm products, and more, to help them learn strategies to meet their growth goals. This educational opportunity will cover marketing locally raised meat, increasing produce sales, and promoting local food and farm retail products.

Foodpreneur School Coaching will be offered over a three-week span, in three sessions, and will focus on ways to grow food and farm businesses. Entrepreneurs can attend one session that best fits their needs or all three sessions. Each live Foodpreneur Business Coaching virtual session will offer small group coaching from industry and university experts.

The first session, Marketing Local Meat, will be offered on Tuesday, September 15th.  This LIVE Foodpreneur Business Coaching virtual session is for farmers and ranchers seeking to increase local and regional meat sales or explore new market channels for farm-raised proteins and local meat products.

Buckeye Valley Beef Cooperative, a southwest Ohio co-op that markets member-farmers’ beef to retailers and consumers, will share results from a recent research project to assess multiple marketing channels to grow sales. Co-op members will share their experiences marketing local meat throughout the region. Additionally, Dr. Lyda Garcia, Animal Science professor at The Ohio State University, will be available to offer insights and answer participant questions.  Garcia specializes in meat science and manages the OSU Meat Lab.  Through her background in meat industry internships, livestock production, training and research in graduate school, and many other meat related experiences, she seeks to bring product value to the meat industry, producers, and consumers.

The second session, Increase Produce Sales, will be offered on Tuesday, September 22nd.  This session will offer insights and best practices for produce growers looking to increase produce sales or explore new market channels such as Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), farmers markets, farm stands, or specialty stores.

Brad Bergefurd, Ohio State University Extension Horticulture Specialist, and owner of Bergefurd’s Farm Market, will share his expertise built over 30 years of experience in produce education, production, and marketing.  Bergefurd’s education and research at OSU has focused on a variety of produce crops, including strawberries, pumpkins, hops, pawpaws, and more, in addition to research and education on marketing innovations like produce auctions.  Bergefurd’s Farm has specialized in growing a variety of produce that is sold through CSA’s, farmers markets, and an agritourism operation.  In the planning of this session Bergefurd stated that, “Produce farmers have many channels of marketing opportunities available today more than ever. Marketing is less expensive, and online options now allow farmers to reach customers in areas they never were able to reach before these marketing channels became available.  It’s all in how you market yourself, so it’s important to get it right”, said Bergefurd.

The third session, Promoting your Local Food, will be offered on Tuesday, September 29th.In this session, educators and industry experts, will discuss how farm and food producers making products such as cheese, salsa, honey, baked goods, and body items, can expand a farm’s offerings  or serve as a standalone business. During the live Foodpreneur Business Coaching session attendees will learn how to expand their sales and build their brand.

A large part of growing any business is effective marketing to keep customers engaged. Christie Welch, Ohio State University Extension Direct Food and Agricultural Marketing Specialist, and owner/operator of Welch Farms LLC, explains that marketing is key to keeping customers engaged with your business, especially in the current environment of the pandemic. Welch shared that, “Customers are craving experiences and seeking the locally produced foods they have come to love.  Because of the rapid changes in how business is conducted while maintaining social distancing, communicating with your customers is more important now than ever.  They want to know what you are doing to keep them safe while still purchasing the local foods they love. Sharing this information in a manner that reflects your brand is key.”

Christie Welch is the owner/operator of Welch Farms, LLC, a third-generation family farm in southern Ohio.  Christie has been involved in the operation since 1992 and during that time, the farm has diversified.  The farm, which began as a dairy operation, has diversified over the years and currently focuses on u-pick plasticulture strawberries.  The farm also sold at several farmers’ markets and Christie served on the board of the Chillicothe Farmers Market Association for seven years.  Direct marketing to consumers is vital to Welch Farms and provides many opportunities to share experiences with other local food producers.

Foodpreneur School Coaching sessions will all be held online and will be offered over a span of three weeks with each session held on a Tuesday evening.  The cost to attend the Foodpreneur School Coaching is $20 per session for Farm Bureau members, and $25 per session for non-Farm Bureau members. There is a separate registration for each session.  We encourage early registration; each session will have a limited number of seats available. To learn more, go to https://cooperatives.cfaes.ohio-state.edu/events or to register for the Foodpreneur School Coaching you can go to go.osu.edu/foodschool2020.  For additional information you may contact Charissa Gardner at gardner.1148@osu.edu.

5 Food-trend Opportunities for Farmers in 2019

In January the Mid-America Restaurant Expo dominated downtown Columbus. The annual restaurant and foodservice industry trade show featured the latest food trends and topics creating new marketing opportunities for farmers. I sampled more than my fair share to discover the following five trends for farmers in 2019.

Greenhouse trend: Indoor herb gardens
Indoor herb gardens give consumers the satisfaction of growing something they can use in the kitchen. Herb gardens appeal to consumers because they are easy to grow with little space, time and effort. PanAmerican Seed suggests consumers are willing to invest in potted herbs plants that offer earlier and prolonged harvests. ¹ Greenhouse growers can increase sales by offering multiple herb plants in culinary collections. Popular herb collections include a pizza garden of chives, oregano and parsley, and a tea garden of chamomile and mints.

Value-added product trend: Fermented foods
Health conscious consumers seek fermented food to improve gut health. An article in the New York Times notes several grocery store chains are packing shelves with pickles, sauerkraut, kimchi and other canned ferments. ² Fermented vegetables and fruits are an opportunity for farmers to create value-added products that complement their produce operations. Value-added products can also provide an outlet for imperfect produce and help farmers reduce food waste.

Meat trend: Oxtail and organs
Cuts consumers used to consider undesirable are trending in 2019. Pintrest searches for oxtail recipes have increased by 209 percent. ³ Organ meats: heart, liver and kidney are popular with paleo and carnivore dieters. Ground meat blends including organ meats provide the health benefits without the strong flavor. Farmers can work with meat processors to create ground meat blends or packaged organ meats for direct to consumer sales.

Bread trend: Sourdough, designer doughnuts and specialty grains
The spotlight on fermented foods has spiked consumer demand for sourdough bread. Designer donuts are the new cupcakes. Breads baked with alternative flours such as rice, spelt and einkorn, are gaining ground according to a Facebook trends report. ⁴ Farmers can partner artisan bakeries to offer specialty breads at the farm stand or as an add-on to Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) subscriptions.

Farm to table trend: Buyer-seller partnerships
Chefs and retail buyers are sourcing local and regional food to meet customer demand. Buyers need a consistent supply of high-quality food and food products. Nation’s Restaurant News suggests buyers partner with farmers to plan production and delivery. Buyers benefit from priority access to the supply they need, while farmers gain a dependable market for their products. ⁵

References

  1. Josephson, C. “Looking Forward to 2019.” Jan 2019. PanAmerican Seed. Retrieved from https://www.panamseed.com/Blog/2019/01/02/looking-forward-to-2019.html
  2. Severson, K., “A Peek at Your New Plate: How You’ll Be Eating in 2019.” Dec 2018. New York Times. Retrieved from  https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/21/dining/food-trends-predictions-2019.html
  3. Wahlgren, E., “100 Pintrest Trends for 2019.” Dec 2018. Retrieved from https://business.pinterest.com/en/blog/100-pinterest-trends-for-2019?utm_medium=2023&utm_source=31&utm_campaign=5fbf16#Food
  4. “The 2019 Topics & Trends Report.” Dec 2018. Facebook IQ. Retrieved from https://scontent.fdet1-2.fna.fbcdn.net/v/t39.8562-6/48606515_2199769090237778_5979666736092282880_n.pdf?_nc_cat=111&_nc_ht=scontent.fdet1-2.fna&oh=99550e34ded1d6d28d998b2a27e706b4&oe=5CD9B039
  5. Luna, N., “15 Trends to Expect in 2019.” Dec 2018. Nation’s Restaurant News. Retrieved from https://www.nrn.com/place-table/15-trends-expect-2019/gallery?slide=6

*Article originally published in Farm and Dairy Newspaper

3 Ways to Elevate your Farm Marketing in 2019

Get ready for retail: Selling farm products at grocery stores and restaurants

Retail and restaurant sales are an opportunity for farmers and food businesses to increase sales volume and revenue, while building brand awareness in the local marketplace. But selling farm products to retail buyers isn’t as easy as showing up with samples. Before approaching grocery store and restaurant buyers, farmers must understand the market, obtain required insurance and certifications, and comply with industry standards for packaging and labeling.

Understand the market: products, people, promotions and pricing

Visit the grocery store(s) you wish to sell product to. Survey the store’s current products, customers, promotions, and pricing. Pay special attention to similar products that your products will compete against, noting the price range. Typical retail mark-up is 40%; if the retail price of fresh asparagus is $2.89 per pound, the grocer paid about $1.73 per pound.

Enjoy a meal at the restaurant you wish to sell products to. Look for language or signage that promotes local sourcing. Notice fellow diners- will your products appeal to the restaurant’s typical customers? Review the menu and consider if your products are a good fit. Make note of prices on the menu. Restaurant industry food costs average 30-35%, depending upon the style of restaurant.

Insurance and certifications

Retail and restaurant buyers may require vendors to maintain a level of product liability insurance, worker’s compensation and/or other insurance policies. Grocers may require vendor farms to be Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) certified. Buyers will appreciate a copy of your farm’s food safety plan, and an invitation to perform an on-farm food safety inspection.

Be prepared to provide buyers with documentation proving your products are USDA Certified Organic, Certified Natural, Verified Non-GMO, Animal Welfare Approved or other specialty certifications. You may need to explain terms like “grass-fed”, “pasture raised”, “natural”, “antibiotic free”, and how those terms can be used to market products to customers.

Packaging and labeling

Grocery stores and restaurants require product to be delivered in packaging that complies with industry standards. Packaging may need to include USDA or industry grading, sizing and quality standard information.

Understand legal regulations for labeling retail products, including Country of Origin labeling, USDA inspection seals, label claims, weights and business contact information that allows for product traceability. Many grocers require a price look up (PLU) or universal product code (UPC) label.

Pitching your farm products

Farmers that understand the market, obtain required insurance and certifications, and comply with industry standards for packaging and labeling, can approach buyers with confidence! The first successful sale is the start of a long-term mutually beneficial buyer-seller relationship.

Need help getting ready for retail?

Join the Ohio State University Direct Food and Ag Marketing Team for MarketReady Producer Training.

Dates: Two-part training on Thursday, November 1, 2018 and Friday, November 9, 2018

Time: 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. both days

Location: OSU Extension- Cuyahoga County, 12200 Fairhill Rd. E Bldg. Cleveland, OH 44120

Fee: $30 covers both days (lunch is provided)

Register: Contact gardner.1148@osu.edu or 740-289-2071 ext 132 by October 30th.

*Article originally published in Farm & Dairy Newspaper

10 Ways to Advertise your Agritourism Event (for Free!)

Apple orchards, pumpkin patches, corn mazes and hay rides — agritourism is an opportunity for farmers to diversify operations, add a new stream of revenue, and finish the season in a strong cash position. That is if the event is well attended.

Advertising creates awareness and invites agritourists to attend your on-farm event. It is the difference between putting on a profitable event and facing a stack of bills and a field of rotting pumpkins. Here are 10 ways to advertise your agritourism event for free!

  1. Facebook Event. Facebook is an online platform that connects friends, families and communities. Users can create a Facebook Event for free and invite people to attend. To create a free Facebook event, login to your farm’s Facebook business page, click events on the left menu bar, then press the + Create Event button. Add a picture and description of the event, including date(s), time and location. Mark the event as public. Public events appear in Facebook’s calendar of event listings and allow users to share the event with their networks.
  2. Facebook Groups. Facebook Groups allow people with common interests to connect online. Community-based groups exist to share news, sales and recreation. Post and promote your agritourism event in Facebook Groups for free. Find local Facebook Groups by searching city and state in the Facebook search bar and selecting Groups.
  3. Community calendar. Many local newspapers publish a weekly events calendar and also host an online community calendar on their website. Contact the newspaper to add your agritourism event.
  4. Organizations and clubs. Community organizations and clubs such as the YMCA, Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, civic clubs and ministries make good partners to promote family-friendly events. Consider donating a portion of profits to the organization or club in exchange for promoting your on-farm event to members.
  5. Tourism display. Area hotels and motels, visitor centers and local restaurants maintain displays of tourism brochures to help visitors find local fun. Ask permission to add your promotional materials.
  6. Community board. Local businesses and libraries showcase events on community boards. Ask to post a flyer.
  7. Press Release. Write a press release about your agritourism event. Submit the press release to local publications. Free press release templates are available online.
  8. Newspaper story. Journalists love story ideas, especially when ideas focus on the community they serve. Contact local newspaper staff and suggest a story about your farm. Perhaps your farm has been in the family 100 years, sells to residents at the farmers’ market, or donates fresh food to the local food pantry. A story is a great way to share your farm story and promote your agritourism event.
  9. Chamber of Commerce. Chambers host a network of local businesses and community organizations. They can help you identify cross-promotional opportunities with other businesses and organizations in your area.
  10. Visitor Bureau. Some visitor bureaus offer grant funding to promote events that increase tourism in the local area. You can utilize grant funds to print professional brochures, signage and other promotional materials for your agritourism event. Contact the visitor bureau to inquire if a marketing assistance program exists in your county.

*Article originally published in Farm & Dairy Newspaper

 

Join Us Friday 3/23 to get MarketReady!

Attention Farmers and Foodpreneurs:

MarketReady training is headed to SW Ohio! Learn how to evaluate and navigate various market channels, and establish an effective business strategy for your farm products.


Friday 3/23/18
8:30-3:30 p.m.
OSU Extension- Clermont County
1000 Locust Street., P.O. Box 670, Owensville, OH 45160
To register contact Pam Clark, clark.2652@osu.edu, 513.732.7070