Potato and onion harvest
I’m usually reticent to give away very much of our product. Oh sure, I’ll donate the occasional package for promotions that our farmers markets do. But by and large I find that other forms of marketing work better – and cost us less – than giving away meat. Last summer, for example, round steaks weren’t moving. So one market day I typed up a bunch of recipe cards for my favorite round steak recipe and sold something like a dozen packages of round steak!
However we’ve come to the last month of market, and what we have on hand is a whole bunch of pork roasts and hams. Well, “whole bunch” is a relative term I guess. We have about 12 or 15 of each left. Not that many, really, but at the rate these 2 particular cuts have sold over the summer I was getting concerned we wouldn’t get rid of them. Sometimes as the popular cuts sell out people will turn to the less popular cuts. But so far they hadn’t turned to the hams and pork roasts. Could be because these are our 2 highest priced cuts of pork. But I suspected something else was going on.
We’ve had interesting conversations over the summer with customers, regarding their dislike for pork. The topic of “has the pork industry shot themselves in the pocketbook” could be an entire post in and of itself. Of course there are those that don’t eat pork for religious reasons. But there’s an unbelievable number of people who used to eat pork but quit, because they either hate the way pork in the grocery stores tastes these days or they’re apalled at the modern confinement system in which most hogs are raised. Even when we explain that we raise our pork for taste, not leanness, or explain that we don’t raise hogs in confinement it’s still been difficult to convince people to give it a try.
So last Friday I went to market armed with a pork roast and a ham. I took my mom along to help hand out samples. And we sold half the pork roasts, and a third of the hams we brought along. Success!
So sometimes giving away your product is worth it. But another observation I made was that giving out samples gets people up to your market stand. And there’s something about having people at your market stand that draws other people to your market stand. Curiosity, maybe. Safety in numbers, maybe. Competition, maybe. Those poeple might be getting a good thing and I’m missing out!
This can be difficult for meat sellers. The vegetable vendors can pile up the visual eye candy to draw people in. Even if we could pile up stacks of frozen meat on our table, it wouldn’t be very eye-catching. I’ve seen meat vendors with portable, glass-topped freezers they can roll out to the front of their market stand so that customers can see the packages of meat inside. That helps, but our processor wraps our packages in butcher wrap so that setup wouldn’t help us. Samples get people lining up at your table.
I won’t be sampling regularly – I’m still not wanting to give too much product away for free. But I think last week’s market taught me that there’s definitely a time and place for sampling in my marketing arsenal.
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