On April 20th, Friends of Family Farmers hosted a Virtual Farmer Social dedicated to digital marketing strategies for Oregon’s agricultural producers. On this video call we had a lively discussion that spanned the do’s, the don’ts, the wish-I-knew’s, and the glad-I-did’s of bringing your farm or ranch’s products to an online audience. From the producers’ mouths to your ears, we are pleased to share some of the farmer tested, and farmer approved digital marketing tips that we discussed during the forum.
We discussed a lot of ways to take advantage of online marketing and sales opportunities. They broke down into two groups, how to do better with your own online presence, and how to tap into existing resources in your community.
Developing Your Own Web Presence
- Work on the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) of your website. This is an ongoing process, but there are some things that you can do to set yourself up for success:
- Ask any businesses who carry/use your products (grocery stores, restaurants, etc.) to link back to your site from theirs, especially if they have a more established web presence than you.
- Include internal links to other parts of your site on every page.
- Make sure to keep up to date on all maintenance on your site.
- When uploading pictures, be sure to label them with captions/descriptions related to your website keywords.
- If this seems overwhelming or out of your comfort zone, there are some free, online SEO courses. The FoFF team recently used this one from Yoast**, but we are not endorsing this over other resources out there.
- Claim your business listing on Google** and fill out your Google Business profile. Also make sure that your google maps tag is correct.
Telling your Story
- Develop an email list of your customers and supporters by asking for their email address at point of sale and markets.
- Use this email list to send weekly updates of the farm, what you have available and what you are working on.
- Some folks on the call mentioned that Mail Chimp** has worked for them.
- Use your social media presence to build your story and give insight into life on the farm.
- It is possible to link your Facebook** and Instagram** accounts to allow cross-posting to save you time.
- Start a blog on your website where you give updates on farm projects, recipes for you products, share insights into farm life, or provide how to’s on important topics (how to care for the plant starts you sell, how to correctly keep storage crops to prevent spoilage, etc.).
- This can also help your SEO!
Apps/Software for Oregon Customers
- To Market** is an app developed by a Portland based team including Stephanie Torgerson, one of the farmers behind Nootka Farming Collective on Sauvie Island.
- This app helps connect farmers with customers and restaurants seeking farm direct food. It can be used all over the state, and was built from the perspective of farmers and restaurant folks from the beginning.
- Stephanie let us in on a hot tip on the call: early adopters of the app will display at the top of the listings, regardless of alphabetical order!
- Whats Good** This is an app from a company based on the east coast. Many small farmers markets are considering adopting this software for pre-orders and pick ups. Check with your market manager to see if they are pursuing this.
- The National Young Farmers Coalition put out this review of the farmer’s perspective on some of the most popular online platforms for sales and distribution. Check it out here.
Social Media for Local Customers
- Join Classified and Community groups on Facebook** for your area.
- Consider using Facebook** boosts to drive people to your website and put your posts in front of new audiences.
- If you include text over graphics in your posts, consider using this tool to check if Facebook** will mark your post as spam and reduce its reach.
**Friends of Family Farmers does not endorse or receive any compensation from any of these platforms. These resources were brought up in the discussion last night and reflect what has worked for your fellow Oregon Farmers.
Tapping Into Existing Community Resources
Farmers Market Resources
Many Farmers Markets are developing online ordering and purchasing platforms. Check with your local market to see how they are handling online ordering and what you need to do to get involved.
OFMA’s COVID-19 Guide – Including best practices for customers and vendors for markets across the state.
OFMA’s Market Finder Tool – To help you connect with your local farmers markets and learn how they’re adapting or if they could be a pick up site for your farm.
If you have a niche product (especially staple crops!), or a limited season (like our Oregon berry producers!), consider approaching other CSA farms in your area to see if they would be willing to do an add on for their customers.
Portland CSA Coalition – Willamette Valley CSA Directory
HDFFA – Bend Area CSA Directory
Gorge Grown – Columbia Gorge CSA Directory
Willamette Farm and Food Coalition – Locally Grown Guide (Lane County), Fresh and Local Guide (Linn & Benton Counties) coming soon!
Rogue Vally Food System Network – The Rogue Flavor Guide
Local Food Aggregation Resources
These are great places to look to see if you can join in on an existing effort and be a part of online platforms hosted elsewhere in the community. Many hands make light work!
Portland Area – Milk Run
Southern Oregon – Klamath Falls Online Marketplace
Wallowa County – Contact Theresa Stangel at Stangel Bison Ranch to hear about their new, developing project with Genuine Wallowa County
- Statewide for Pastured Meat Producers – Apply to become a member of the Oregon Pasture Network! This program of FoFF has a newly redesigned product guide that we will be launching with a public campaign starting April 27, 2020.
As COVID-19 changes the business landscape, diversifying into online platforms is a good option for all businesses. If you have resources in your area to add to this list, please email us and we will add it to the FoFF COVID -19 Resource Page.