by Claire Livia Lassam
Small business marketing is hard for anyone. Trying to market your small business after working long days on a farm with only the rare day off sounds more than arduous. Especially when you’re not sure if you’re doing it right, and it can, at times, feel tedious and narcissistic. Who wants to see another picture of me pulling out carrots?
But marketing isn’t just about putting yourself out there, at it’s best, it’s building relationships and growing your community, and that is something worth dedicated the time too, even if it doesn’t come naturally to you. So let’s chat how to build your community, because the more people there are in your community, more people there are going to be itching to support your farm, and be apart of your CSA.
When I asked Anastasia Cole Plakias from Brooklyn Grange about their CSA’s she had this to say:
“Our two cents is: gather every single email address you can, from everyone you can. Put a CSA waitlist form on your website and collect email addresses of interested parties over the course of the year. By the time I re-enroll last year’s members, I’m usually half way full. Then I email the waitlist and fill up another 25% of our membership. Then a few beautiful pics of veggies on social media fills up the remaining 25%.”
But that’s certainly easier for the world’s largest rooftop farm, who has been featured multiple times in the New York Times and National Geographic. So how do the rest of us fill up our email lists and get new social media followers to amp up our presence?
The easiest way, according to marketer Krysta Elliot, is by affiliated marketing.
“It’s the fastest growing form of marketing. They need to find all of the bloggers (local and distant) that are writing on food and sustainable living/eating, organic, etc., etc., and reach out to them – follow them, tag them – ask them to be affiliates if it’s appropriate. Build their online community from there. Send food bloggers (or lifestyle/yoga/whatever bloggers) free CSA ” baskets/demos” – usually they will be featured in return.”
The key here is making it personal, building a relationship with someone in hopes of it being mutually beneficial. Look through past blog posts- do they do lots with a kind of kale you grow? Or have they recently made kimchi with a cabbage that you’re fond of, and have lots of. Don’t begin by thinking “what can I do to make them help me?”, rather think about what you can do booster them. Pretty soon they’ll be turning the tables. Start off by mentioning them on Twitter or through a comment on Instagram, and build up to drop off. If they like your produce they’ll feature it on their blogs, and on their social media.
As a small business owner one of the questions I hate the most is “What makes you special, or different?” I never know what to say, and mostly I end up feeling hopelessly awkward. But it is important to know how you stand out. Whether it’s your flower CSA, or a specialty for heirloom beets, or an initiative to hire people from the Downtown East Side, you have to demonstrate the unique value that you provide.. Once you establish what it is, then you can start pushing that. Push it on your social media outlets, and push it when you’re reaching out to magazines and writers. Everyone wants to be part of something different, but it’s up to you to tell them what you do is special, unique, and worth talking about.
Once you tell them, you’ll be able to do minimal work to have your community grow.
** Should you be interested in purchasing CSA’s from an Urban Farmer this Season, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Claire Livia Lassam is a Vancouver based writer, baker, and lover of farm fresh food. When she isn’t sitting in front of her computer you can find her trying to beat her record for how many berries can fit in a pie.