Hey there, and welcome back to another episode of the Profitable Mindset podcast.
Welcome to the Profitable Mindset, a show dedicated to teaching you the skills you need to build a profitable product-based business that makes you feel free and fully in control. Here’s your host, Charlotte Smith.
Hey there! Welcome to episode number 20 of the Profitable Mindset podcast. And can I just say how excited I am to have made it to 20 episodes? And that’s all because of you guys, out there listening and tuning in and also leaving those reviews.
So you know what, we are at 88 reviews. And for this 20th episode, I would love to get to a hundred reviews, because that is what helps keep this podcast in front of people, because they aren’t free to produce. It’s a big investment both financially and time wise.
So show your love for the Profitable Mindset podcast. Get over to iTunes, leave a review, and let’s try to get to 100 by the new year, by 2020. Okay? Wouldn’t that be cool, 20th episode for 2020? All right. Anyway, I do have a lot of great episodes planned for 2020, and thank you for being here.
But back to today, first of all, I just got back from giving a keynote presentation at Rutgers University. How cool was that? And that was to a group of fabulous farmers there. And Rutgers University is in New Jersey, but it’s just an hour from New York city. So it was super fun.
I took my almost 13 year old daughter for her birthday, and we spent some time in Manhattan and it was such a joy. We live on the opposite coast in Oregon, so we can’t just like pop into New York city. It’s quite a trek. So we took advantage of me having to go East, anyway. The city was all dressed up for Christmas. People were in the holiday spirit, just so much fun.
All right. Now of course, I’m here because I teach you all how to have profitable businesses, but also how important it is to have an enjoyable life, at the same time. I mean, it’s really crucial that we learn to have life’s we love when we’re farming, and not just have busy businesses, because that will drive you insane.
I mean, if you’re just working your tail off but you’re not enjoying life, that is what makes a lot of farmers quit, because they realize they’re living this life of drudgery and hard work and stress and no money. So I have loved being able to incorporate the mindset coaching work I do into teaching marketing, so I can help you live the most fulfilling life you can with far less stress and more fulfillment. And I’ve got lots more of that planned for upcoming episodes too.
Today though, I’m here to help you out with something that a lot of farmers struggle with, mainly because of the seasonality of most farms, and that is how to continue selling products in the off season, once a lot of the markets close and the weather gets bad.
Unless of course you’re lucky enough to be a vendor at the San Diego farmer’s markets, for instance, because they are warm and sunny and inviting year round. And lucky you, if you are, because you can sell all the way through winter and you have a steady stream of customers there. But since we all aren’t lucky enough to live in San Diego, then we’ve got to find some other ways to sell through the winter.
That’s what I’m sharing with you today. Winter also brings added stress, of course the weather. But in what we’re referring to today, you don’t have as much income usually, but you still have a lot of the same expenses, which leads to anxiety and depression. So do make sure you’re taking care of yourself if you’re feeling that stress too.
My last two podcast episodes, number 17 and 18 are going to be great resources for you. They’re handling stress and anxiety and worry. I’ve got lots of tools in those episodes to help you. So if you are feeling that, this time of year, listen to those episodes when you’re done with this one, of course.
Today, though, I’m going to share with you four ways you can sell in winter that will help you maintain some cashflow through the winter. And it’s also going to help you start your season off next spring really strong. Now I wish winter was a time where we could all slow down and take a rest after the long summer and sit by the fireplace. But I also know, that is not really the case when you’re a business owner, and especially when you own a farm.
The work seems to never end, but at the same time it seems like the money does end. Right now I’m getting a few emails from people who are reaching out for help. They’re saying things like, “Their freezer is full of meat chickens or leftover turkeys or sides of beef or milk, and they need help because they don’t know what to do with it and they’re losing money.” And they’re saying things like, “The markets are over. My sales have stopped, but I still have all this product. What can I do?”
So this is kind of a feast and famine cycle that a lot of farmers struggle with, that I’d like to help you put a stop to. And the way I’d like to help you stop it, is by learning how to have consistent sales throughout the year. And yes, we are probably going to have more sales in summer, but I want you to have some steady sales in winter too, which you can totally do.
Some of you have listened to me long enough to know that people buy from small businesses, like us, because of the relationship they have with us. Not because we’re cheap and convenient, because we’re not. I mean, they can conveniently click a button on Amazon and have farm fresh food delivered to them within two hours. So why in the world would they shop with us when we’re more money and more inconvenient?
It’s because of the relationship that you and I build with them, based on everything I teach here. So you’re going to work on your relationship building all winter, but also there are some ideas I have here to help you, so you can make some more sales consistently in the off season.
I want to talk to you about two things you can do. First, know that one of these two things is a long-term solution and the other is an immediate action solution. And since you’re a smart farmer, which, of course, I only have smart people in my audience, you’re going to do both of these things. Okay. We got to focus on longterm solutions and immediate action solutions in the winter right now.
So if you want to sell in winter, the long-term solution is to upgrade your mindset, and build an email list during the spring, summer, and fall months. Now what does that mean? What it means is, when you go to a farmer’s market or your drop site or wherever you might be going out in the community during the busy season, you’ve got to shift your mindset to be that you are there to build and maintain relationships with everyone you meet.
And what that means is you’re not there to sell. You’re there to build relationships and make people feel they’re important to you and that you value them. And what’s neat about this, is the sales will follow. And you didn’t have to convince people or pressure anyone to buy. And you feel so much better marketing your farm this way, and sales happen naturally and easily.
So you shift to thinking that you are there meeting people, whether it’s in your store, your market booth, or the drop site, to engage in conversation with them, talk with them about the struggles they face, or the goals they have in life. And you’re there to learn everything you possibly can from them. And that’s why you’re there.
Selling is secondary. So next season, this is a mindset you’re going to have. Starting up in spring, that you’re there at your drop site or your place of sales to build a relationship, first. Selling is secondary. Unfortunately though, most farmers go to the farmer’s market with just the intention of selling, whatever it is they have on hand, and selling is their main focus.
So if they took a truck load of meat or a truckload of flowers, they go there with the intent to sell that product. And while selling pays your bills today, I want you to learn to be aware of the customer and their journey and why they buy. And when you focus just on sales, when they meet you, then it’s usually a once and done sale. You haven’t turned them into loyal repeat customers, because you didn’t focus on the relationship. You just focused on the sale at hand.
So yes, you made a couple bucks, but you’ve lost the longevity of building that loyal relationship. So just showing up to make sales is the fastest way to a slow and low bank account. And I don’t want that for you. If you only focus on selling, you’re missing out on probably 95% of your potential income. Okay.
So the long term key solution to selling in the winter is shifting your mindset from selling to serving, and building an email list of potential customers that you will build a relationship with and turn into loyal customers.
Now the second of those, like I said, it’s an immediate action solution, and this is something you can do right now. So since we’re in the middle of winter right now, what can you do today to sell your products? The only answer is you’ve got to go to them. You can’t expect people to find you because you have a website or you have a social media account, or because they drive by your sign or maybe you hang a flyer up in the feed store or you put an ad somewhere.
They aren’t just going to stumble on you in any of these places. Okay. Maybe one or two people stumble on you. That is not enough to even make it worth the effort of going to those places. People don’t stumble on you and discover you and just go land on your website and become a customer. They don’t seek you out to come shop with you. You’ve got to get out there and find them.
Here’s what I know. When you present yourself in person, and you look bright and cheery and welcoming and you’re cleaned up, you’re professional looking and you show the person that you value them when you meet them, and you look and you feel put together, when you show up this way, when I show up this way, I’ll make a sale 100% of the time, and you will too. That is how powerful in-person sales are, versus just trying to get the word out online.
And you can do this. This is a learned skill that you can totally learn and practice today, and get better and better, and make it work for you. If you’re a new farm, and people don’t know who you are, they don’t know what you sell, if this is the case, especially, you’ve got to get out and go to them. Okay. And this means you got to get off the farm.
Now a lot of farmers don’t want to get off the farm and they always kind of cringe. If I’m up on stage speaking to a group and I let them know, “You got to get out in your community to meet people,” they will cringe and fight that. But really, that is how you build a loyal customer base and it’s how you make sales.
So get off the farm, get out in your community. I set aside one afternoon a week to do this, every single week. So when you commit to this, you will see, you will just watch your email list grow and you will watch your sales grow. Okay?
So step one, to get out off the farm, is find out where your customers are hanging out. And how do you do that? Well, first of all, open up Google and start searching. Search for things like farm to table restaurants near me, CrossFit boxes near me, yoga centers near me, moms’ groups, meetups, nutritionists, chiropractors, Western price groups, wellness centers. That list right there, those are all places I’ve networked with and they are within 15 minutes to an hour from my farm. Over the years I’ve met with all sorts of places like that.
This time of year, especially there’s community events going on, and you will have potential customers there. The holidays have brought so many things to town, even out in the country, in our small towns. There are so many events going on, where I can meet people, who want to shop with us, once they know we’re here because they met me in person.
So look around your community for those community events. Maybe it’s a Christmas Bazaar at a local church or school, or something you can get involved with. Our community does a first Friday event every single month, and there are hoards of people downtown. It’s a great way to get our products in front of people and meet people. And then the next community over, does a last Thursday event every single month.
So again, these are great events for me to get my products in front of people by talking with some of the participating businesses in the downtown area and collaborating with them. And yeah, this takes interpersonal skills, but you’ve got to learn to develop them. And remember, building a sustainable business, so you can be around for the long term, is at stake here. So it is worth it to develop these skills.
And I’ve seen recently, I’ve read in a leadership book that your communication skills are your currency in today’s world. And I see that in my work with all the farmers I work with. Those who do the work, to learn the skills I teach, are the most successful. So you will want to hone the skills of meeting with people and relating to people.
Now how can you get involved in your community right now and get out there, give away some product and build relationships and get you through the winter? Well like I said, get off your farm, find out where your customers are hanging out.
Winter time was always when I taught the bulk of our classes on the farm, because it kept that feeling of community going, and it kept the connection going through the winter so that we didn’t lose any customers. Plus it brought a little extra income, so I knew that they’d be back the next summer to order pork and chicken and beef, because I kept in touch with them with our classes during the winter.
So is there a class you can teach, or maybe you can do a demo at your local library or a community center? Near us, there is a health food store that has a classroom, and then there’s another kind of homesteading type store that also has a classroom. And they’re always looking for people to teach new and interesting classes, and they’ll advertise the class for us. So I can go there and teach people how to make butter or cheese or bone broth. Really anything you want to teach, this will bring me some money in right now. But it also builds our customer base going forward.
So think for yourself, where in your community can you go and meet people or teach a class to people? Now, if it’s the off season and you’re a flower farmer, go buy some flowers from the store. Teach them how to make a holiday bouquet or a wreath, and get ready for the spring bulbs that are popping up. In my yard, I’m seeing more every day. So even if your product is not available in the winter, you can still teach a class. Get creative and brainstorm some ideas there.
The other thing is a lot of my farm customers are part of various groups who meet weekly. In our area, it’s the Rotary Club or the Kiwanis Club. They’re super active and they love having me attend and present to them about what it’s like to be a farmer. It’s so casual. They’re meeting at a pizza parlor. They’re all eating pizza. I stand up and share about what it’s like to be a farmer, which at first I thought, “Why would they want to hear this?” They think it’s fascinating, this life we live as farmers doing things that they’ve only heard their grandparents ever talking about. They love listening to this. And when I do go present at one of these groups, a significant percentage of people who are in attendance become customers.
So the next week, I will have five to 10 new loyal customers show up at our farm store, and that’s because they met me in person. And this is exactly what built our profitable farm, and it will help you tremendously too.
We also have a very active Chamber of Commerce. I attend events at Chamber of Commerce’s in two different towns. We have a 40 and under club. We have an entrepreneurial group. All of these different groups love guest speakers, like us, with unique jobs or unique businesses.
Now what usually happens next is a lot of people will tell me, “Well, I’m a terrible speaker,” or “I never know what to say when I’m talking to someone.” Well, there is one way to become a better speaker that I know of. Everybody starts out as a terrible speaker and then you go speak every chance you get, and only with that kind of practice, do you become a better speaker. And that is the only way to become a better speaker.
Someone wrote me an email last week and they said, “Do you have a book I can read, because I want to become a better speaker? I’m really nervous and it terrifies me.” And I wrote him back and said, “Well, you can read all the speaking books you want, but the only way you’re going to become a better speaker is to get out there and speak. And it’s going to be super uncomfortable and awkward at first. You’re going to sound terrible in all kinds of ways and you’ll feel terrible, but each time you speak, you will get a little bit better.”
All right. So find some resources to build your confidence. I talk about that a lot on various podcast episodes. Get out in your community, meet people, you’ll watch your business grow when you do that. And just know that, meeting people and talk with them, talking with them, speaking in front of a group, even if it’s a group of two, does not come naturally to people.
I mean, I don’t know anyone who said they felt like they were a natural speaker, including me. I started speaking on stage eight years ago, and I would sweat like crazy ahead of time and during and I would feel nauseated while I was speaking. My voice was shaking like mad. My eyes would get teary at certain topics. It was terrible. It was agonizing. But every time I did it, I got a teensy bit better.
Until today, I own that stage. Audiences have a great time when I talk, and that’s only because I practiced and I failed and I got up and I practiced again. And guess what? Now I’m paid to give keynotes across the country, because I suffered through all that bad stuff. I call it the river of misery. Then I got better, and it pays off. So you’re going to do the same thing.
So get out in your community, practice by just talking to one person at a time. Think about how you can help them and serve them, and then you’ll take the focus off you. And you will gradually become better and better. But what you’re going to notice is your email list and your customer base grows steadily when you do this.
And the other part of that is when you go out to these groups, be sure you take some of your product along with you. So if I’m speaking at an event, I’ll take a few dozen eggs or a few pounds of hamburger or something like that, just for them to enjoy. Okay. I’ll just give it to them. It’s kind of a hostess gift for having me come speak. So that will help you make the statement of who you are. That really helps build your brand too.
Okay. Now step number two, to selling in the winter, is to find an influencer in your community. And this might be a friend, but it might be someone you don’t know. Maybe it’s a friend of a friend. Maybe it’s someone you see on Facebook talking about your products.
And now I’m not talking about a famous Instagram influencer or a social media influencer. That’s not the kind of influencer I’m talking about. Think of someone that’s always talking about food, or maybe they are raving about your products or how much they love shopping with you. So think of who that is.
I can think of three of my customers off the top of my head who talk about my products wherever they go, because I get phone calls from people who mentioned that they were Christmas shopping at Williams and Sonoma and the woman in line behind them gave them our farm information.
So there are those people in your customer base. Think of who those people are. Those are your influencers. And what you want to do is you want to give them a bunch of your product. Maybe it’s a box of your meat. If you’re making Christmas wreaths or holiday flower arrangements, give them some of that. Okay? And what you’re doing, is you’re going to ask them to use it, but also to rave about it. Share about it on social media or in their emails or as they go around town.
What you’re doing is you’re giving them this task to rave even more about you and your products. They are going to love helping you out. So I know you have these people already in your customer base, so utilize them and strategize with them. So it’s as easy as that. Find someone who loves to talk about your products and meets a ton of people. Give them your product for free, and ask them to use it and then share and share and share.
So who in your community or in your circle of friends is that person who loves to talk and meet people? All right. Get them some of your products and you will watch your customer base grow.
Now the third thing you can do to make more sales in winter is to host a tasting, if you do some kind of food product. One of my customers had a friend move to town and started a lamb business, selling meat, and they moved here from another state. So they already knew how to raise lambs, and they actually moved their whole farm here. So from the get go, they needed customers, because they already had product.
So she connected with this friend, who is my customer. And this friend is very social, very active in the Rotary Club and Chamber of Commerce in Portland. She has tons of friends, and the new lamb farmer asked her if she would host a free tasting at our house, just a party and invite all of her friends. Well, of course we got invited. It was such a great idea.
The friend, whose house it was at, she cooked the lamb three different ways, and one of them was a sausage. She served some wine along with it. And I don’t know about you, but if a friend invited me over for a fresh lamb and wine tasting, I would definitely be the first one to RSVP. And this farmer got all kinds of orders that day. And they were brand new in town and they hit the ground running with this almost instant customer base and selling product right away.
So that’s a really fun thing you could do. Find a friend, you will provide the product and they will do a tasting and invite their friends. And you will build your customer base that way too.
Now I’ve done all kinds of tastings just in our farm store or when I go visit a local winery or something like that, or I’m part of an event. I’ve done tastings with our dairy products. I’ve done deviled eggs in the spring when our egg amount doubles. Okay. Or if you have extra beef or pork roasts or chickens, do something in the Instapot or the Crock-Pot, you could do a batch of Chile Colorado or Chile Verde with the pork or beef. This is going to guarantee you will sell out.
Tastings are fabulous. Costco grocery stores already know this. All right. Whatever they’re sampling that day, they make the most sales on. You can totally capitalize on this too. So if I am speaking out a local business or an event, I’ll just take the dish to taste right along with me and I’ll have samples ready. It works really slick. Nobody turns them down. It’s great. I just take the little napkins or the tasting cup or whatever I need, and I just pull it out.
People love it, and I’ve always been able to move lots of product this way, whenever I’ve done a tasting. What you do is you create this sense of reciprocity in people. So you’re there, you give them a free taste, and then they feel this internal sense, sort of an obligation to buy something from you. But it comes from a good place. They want to buy from you. They want to support you because you just gave them this free thing.
So again, use that as part of your strategy. And another idea on that, is a tasting does not have to be in your house or somebody else’s house. I’ve had tastings in our barn. People love to see our cows be milked. So I’d have people over to watch the cows. It would be a blustery, rainy day. We’d close the doors. We’d have a heater on. They’d have their winter clothes on, but they’re protected from the weather. They’d watch the cows get milked, and then we’ll have samples of yogurt or milk or whatever dairy products I want to have. And it’s a great way to move product.
So what happens if you’ve got a freezer full of milk? A lot of dairy farmers can freeze that extra milk and you can sell it for people to use for yogurt or even butter making, if you skim the cream. Give samples of these products and you will sell out. Okay? So people love new experiences. So tasting in your barn or a tasting at a friend’s house is going to be really alluring to them.
And of course, like almost everything I ask you to do, this is going to make you get out of your comfort zone to make it happen. But you can totally do it, because once people experience your product, they engage with it, they talk to you, they’re going to want to buy it. And because they’re talking to you, they feel this connection to you. And at that point, they won’t object to you getting them on your email list. So show them how your products help them. They’ve already told you these things in your conversations, and you will have loyal customers.
Okay. Now, the fourth thing you can do to sell more product in the winter is to gift your product. Give it away. All right. Just know that you’re going to make sales when you give product away. So don’t think that you can’t give it away, thinking that you’ll lose money. All right. You’ve got to take the first step and give some product away to some key people, and you will see that you make more sales.
In our case, there was a local Naturopathic doctor, she recently sent me a few new customers and she’s moved on to send me about one new customer a week. So as a way to show my gratitude, I drove to the clinic, I dropped off a free pastured chicken as a gift to her and had a little thank you note. And it was so funny. The staff at the desk laughed and they thought it was really cool. And then the Naturopathic doctor sent me an email afterward and she said, “I’ve never gotten a thank you chicken before.” And she was really excited.
So that’s a great way to meet local businesses and get your name out there. If someone does send you a referral, for sure get them some product. But if they haven’t referred to you yet, show up. Give them that thank you, chicken in advance or that thank you eggs or thank you ground beef. Okay. And if you have product in your freezer all winter that you don’t have an outlet for because the markets are closed, start giving this away to some past customers too and to potential customers, wherever you think it will do the best good. Get out there, give that product away.
I know this sounds crazy, but if you want to sell more chickens next year, give them away now. You could write a nice note to your customers from last year and say, “Thank you so much for being a customer last year. I loved being able to serve you. I’m giving you a couple of free chickens, because we are really appreciative of your business.”
Now, if you have a thousand chickens, like an email I got from a farmer recently and they’re in your walk in freezer, and you’re paying expensive electricity on these chickens, this is perfect for you. Pick out those customers that you know like your product. Give them two chickens or three or four. Tell them to enjoy a chicken and pass the others along to friends. Of course, make sure you’ve got your contact info along with those chickens. They will love to help you out like that. Okay.
So don’t be afraid to give product away. If you’ve already got it sitting in the freezer, it’s going to do you more good when you give it away to people to enjoy and create that feeling of reciprocity, than it will just sitting in your freezer all winter. Okay?
Okay. So remember, selling in the winter is all about building an email list of customers and potential ideal customers that want to buy from you. So you’ve got to shift your mindset from selling to serving long before winter comes. But of course if you haven’t been doing this, start now. All right. Okay.
Let me know which one of these are you going to try, or is there something else you’ve done to make sales in the winter once the markets have closed? I would love to hear this from you. Send me an email, share with me. I’d love to know.
And if you want some, one on one consulting, I’ve been doing all kinds of appointments with farmers this winter, because they’re getting ready to hit the ground running next year, you can always go to my work with me page. That is at 3cowmarketing.com/workwithme. You can schedule an appointment, right there on that page.
Let’s get together and get you some sales, and get you started off on the right foot for next season too. Okay. That is what I have for you today. Thank you guys so much for being here. I can’t wait to talk with you next time.
Thank you so much for tuning in to today’s episode. For more great resources, check out the profitablemindset.com. See you next time.