Marketing

MARKETING TECHNIQUES

There are a variety of selling techniques that can be used get cash from your crops. Some producers use several of the methods at the same time. Several things can help make your marketing efforts easier.

The first is quality. You want to produce the best product possible. Your product’s good, clean, healthy appearance will impress buyers. Sub-par products will be hard to sell. The way to produce quality is by proper initial soil preparation, using good seeds and by adhering to accepted growing methods.

You should read books about gardening and carefully study any special growing requirements for each vegetable or fruit. Books covering most all special plants and produce are available at your library or from the U.S. Government Printing Office in Washington DC.

Also, you’ll want to take steps to eliminate pests that injure your plants. There many plants that act as natural repellents to some insect pests. For example: basil, catnip, marigolds, nasturtiums, savory, garlic, horseradish, tansy, and thyme.

An important marketing consideration is timing. If you can get a crop ready when other producers aren’t, sales will be easy.

This can be done by using greenhouses, planting early, using hotbeds and, of course, good planning.

Pricing is also important. Most sellers recommend that you price your products 10% to 20% below those in grocery stores. (But don’t lock yourself into a price war by trying to undercut your competition from other small producers.) Products that are grown using organic methods will most often bring higher prices. Check will all the local retail stores and at farmers markets to get a feel for your local current selling rates.

One of the most common marketing techniques is selling your wares at roadside stands. Two of the most important factors to consider before setting up your stand are signs and ample parking space. Your signs should be no longer than 6 to 8 words, neat, legible and easy to understand. Signs need to be placed far enough ahead of your stand to give the customer time to pull into your parking area.

Next, you want your stand to be well organized and neat in appearance. Make it easy for the customer to see the product and prices. Neatness and cleanliness will pay off. Combined with quality products and good prices, you’ll enjoy a lot of free advertising by ‘word of mouth.’

A variation of the roadside stand is to sell from the back of your pickup truck or car. You’ll need to locate a well traveled road and a spot with parking that doesn’t interfere with anyone. Of course, all of the previously mentioned factors apply.

Another common selling method is at farmer’s markets and flea markets. These gatherings are held in most localities. If not, you’ll want to get together with other producers and organize a farmer’s market. All of these methods can also be aided by advertising in local newspapers, ‘penny saver’ papers, radio stations, and by posting notices on bulletin boards.

Selling directly to retail grocery stores and restaurants is another good procedure. If you can provide them with a steady supply of fresh produce, sales should be easy. When contacting these stores be prepared to offer a 30% to 40% discount from regular retail prices. This allows the retailer a good profit margin. If you are a reliable producer, you may be able to set up a weekly route to service several retail locations.

There are many food co-ops that are eager to buy large quantities of quality produce. You’ll need to offer reasonable discounts. Too, you’ll want to scout out these local co-ops and contact them directly. For some products you may have to prepare neat individualized packages of produce. Example: 1 or 2 ounces of herbs in labeled, plastic bags.

U-Pick operations have been discussed previously. This marketing method will work for almost any product. However, it does present some special problems. Example: you cannot let very young kids into the picking areas as they may get hurt and/or damage some crops.

In order to operate a successful U-Pick operation, you’ll need to get along well with people. You also need to be friendly, courteous and treat everyone as if they are individually important which, of course, they are.

GETTING HELP

There’s a variety of ways to get help with gardening and marketing your products. Almost every state offers free agriculture help through universities and state agriculture offices. The U.S. Department of Agriculture also offers many free programs.

Local bookstores, newsstands, and libraries also contain many informative sources. Study these diligently and become skillful in gardening. Finally, you’ll be able to find many newsletters and growers associations advertised in the gardening magazines. These are often your best sources for plants, seeds, growing techniques, and marketing strategies.

SUCCESS ANALYSIS

Eight contributing factors are measured on a 1 to 10 basis (with 10 being excellent) based on analysis of this opportunity.

1. Time Investment 8 2. Start-up Costs 8 3. Gross Income Potential 8 4. New Income Potential 9 5. Income in Relation to Investment 9 6. Stability 7 7. Overall Risk 9 8. Potential for Growth 9

Overall Potential for Success: 8.38

CONCLUSION

This is basically a labor intensive business, relying on your learned skills and work. Preparing the soil, planting, nurturing, harvesting and marketing are all details to which you must attend to on a continuous basis.

Starting a backyard cash crop operation can be very, very rewarding. Plus, you’ll not only get closer to nature while learning a valuable age-old skill, but you’ll be producing a valuable, healthy product.

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