Small Farm Business: Permission Marketing

I wanted to share a post I read recently about marketing called Reaching the People Who Get It. The gist of the article is that it’s a waste of your marketing efforts to market to people who just don’t “get it”. This is the same conclusion Matt & I have reached in the years that we’ve been doing this farm thing.

In the beginning we thought all we had to do was educate people about our products and why they’re so great and better for you than typical grocery store fare, and people would be beating down our door to buy from us.

Obviously, it didn’t happen quite that way.

So now we try to target our marketing efforts towards people who already “get it”, or at least might have an open mind towards what we’re doing. The article calls this permission marketing – “when you market and pursue people who actually want what you are selling to them.” But where do we find these kinds of people?

Farmers markets, to a degree. Some people that patronize farmers markets are there because they’re interested in buying direct from the farmer, or in local food issues, or food safety or taste issues. Other people that patronize farmers markets are simply there looking for a bargain. After 2 years of doing farmers market, I’m getting better at discerning who’s who when someone approaches my booth. I start with my basic rundown. If I sense they’re in the former category, I keep on with the more detailed spiel. If I sense they’re in the latter category, I don’t waste my breath.

There’s a local store that carries our meat. It’s owned by a Mennonite family, and carries bulk foods and handcrafted furniture. It’s been great for us, and I think great for the store as well. But we haven’t even tried to sell through the other local grocery store. Earlier this summer that store set up a special organic products section. I noticed last week that it had been taken down. Just not enough people that “get it” shop there.

This winter I’ll be giving a local foods class through NIACC Continuing Education. I anticipate that those who sign up for the class will be people who already “get it” – or who at least have an open mind to some new ideas.

Another way we hone our marketing to our target market is by managing our mailing list. Just like unproductive animals on the farm get culled, former customers who have stopped ordering get culled as well.

Marketing to those who get what you’re about, rather than trying to educate and convert the masses, will be a better use of your limited time and give you a greater return on that investment!

4 years ago:

2004 Recap

3 years ago:


Winter cows

2 years ago:

Here are some pictures I took of a totally anonymous baby

Our Layer Hens, Part 1

Our Layer Hens, Part 2

Our Layer Hens, Part 3

1 year ago:


I hate this time of year

This entry was posted in Small Farm Business. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Small Farm Business: Permission Marketing

  1. farm mom says:

    wonderful post Kelli, and so true.

  2. ang says:

    k- this is a great post. It surprises me how many still don’t get it.The last two weeks I was determined to get a handle on my e-mail contacts to find out who is reading my newsletters via emails, if anyone? It was a task but it became easier when I found mailchimp. The software is free or affordably priced as needed for additional service.My original mailing list was 173 addresses. 5 unsubscribed through mail chimp, 32 updated their profile. I waited a week and sent the remaining 136 addresses a polite email that they had been unsubscribed and to renew visit the site and select the appropriate newsletter. I now have 59 individuals on my email newsletter but you know what? I’m a heck of a lot happier knowing I’m mailing 59 who get it. You can see the newsletter subscription on my sorry for the ramble… this post just excited me. 🙂

  3. ang – thanks for the info on mailchimp, I’m going to have to check that out! And you can come over here and ramble any time 🙂

  4. Anonymous says:

    This comment isn’t related to your post BUT – I bought your 2008 calendar and wonder if you plan to publish a 2009 version?

  5. Aw, that makes me feel so good that you would ask about the calendar! It’s something I really wanted to do again, and Matt really wanted me to do again, but I just had too much on my plate for it this year. I’m hoping next year I can do one again. Thanks for asking 🙂

  6. Anonymous says:

    Too bad about your calendar! I used the 2008 calendar as my daily reminder, prominently displayed near the telephone on a kitchen counter. I love your photography and was hoping for a 2009 version. I’m sure I’m not alone in hoping for a 2010 calendar.

Comments are closed.