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#007: How to Use Farm Events to Attract New Customers and Profit

Hosting farm events in my early days of farming was the perfect way for me to attract customers and turn a profit.

As a new farmer, getting customers to know who you are and what you sell is an obstacle in and of itself but don’t let that deter you from trying.

Getting customers to the farm even if it’s one or two is worth it — trust me.

1 turns into 3…

3 turns into 6…

And so on…

It’s absolutely possible and on today’s Profitable Mindset Podcast, I give you event ideas, questions to think about and what you need to host an on-farm event and to have it go off without a hitch.

I can’t think of anything that worked better or faster to attract devoted customers than hosting farm events.

Did I mention that events were crazy profitable too…

Food in our society is a commodity. In other words, the cheaper the better. That’s what the average shopper expects.

As a farmer, it’s impossible to compete with the low prices and convenience of any industrially priced food.

Unfortunately, many farmers try to compete on price and convenience and it just doesn’t work. Within two years, they’re shutting down the farm and selling the land. Or, they continue pumping money into the farm from their off-farm job or savings.

Again, completely unsustainable.

Hosting Farm Events Checklist

As farmers, though, we do have an opportunity to level the playing field that isn’t about price or convenience.

We have the advantage when it comes to starting and building relationships with customers face-to-face.

And what’s the best way to build a face-to-face relationship — you got it — host farm events!

Many farmers overlook this great opportunity. When you can connect with your customers, from the heart and face-to-face, they will be loyal and the price is no longer a concern.

How can you get new customers and gain exposure to your farm?

PLAN EVENTS

Give people a reason to drive to your farm, see what you’re doing and interact with you. The event itself is not as important as the opportunity to interact with current or potential customers.

Most of our customers drive 30-60+ minutes one-way to pick up their order at our farm. Many of them would never drive out of their way for a dozen eggs. The reason they do is that I’ve made a connection with them.

How did I build this relationship with customers — Hosting farm tours!

Here are all the events I’ve hosted through the years to build a strong, loyal (and profitable) customer base from the start:

  1. Cheese/home dairying classes
  2. Bread baking classes
  3. Farm tours
  4. Kids camps
  5. Teen camps
  6. Farm to table dinner
  7. Milk the cow class
  8. Yoga (without goats, or with if you prefer)
  9. Book club
  10. Wine tastings
  11. Nutrition classes
  12. Lard making classes

Want more ideas for hosting farm events?

Tap on the image to download your FREE checklist

And I didn’t need any special training to host any of these events! Being a dairy woman, I already knew how to make butter, yogurt, and several kinds of cheese.

So I started inviting people over to make it with me and it soon morphed into classes at $150/person.

Then, I invited my girlfriend over to teach bread baking. Boy, did we have fun baking, eating our way through class, and every one of those women couldn’t wait to come back to shop with us.

Plus, they told all their friends.

Do you know how many people have “cow milking” on their bucket list? That was one of our most popular events!

Pet a kitten, feed the horse a carrot, get snotted on by a cow — when these things happen to people they are connected to you for life.

And the cost is no object when it comes to real-life experiences. They are happy to leave the “city life” and pay your prices even if it’s double what the local farm stand or store is charging.

If you’re looking to grow your customer base and build a profit — plan and host an event where you give customers an experience of a lifetime.

Listen to the podcast above for more details and download the FREE checklist for hosting farm events.

Have you hosted events at your farm? Tell me in the comments what type of event it was and if you gained new customers from it…

More ways to listen:

Apple – iTunes

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/profitable-mindset/id1461523532?mt=2

Android

https://www.subscribeonandroid.com/profitablemindset.libsyn.com/rss

Spotify

https://open.spotify.com/show/5Z5OYFrpleJUhoP321aAT0?si=gBR918wAQ6i1x6Le_zcb9g

Stitcher

https://www.stitcher.com/s?fid=397073&refid=stpr

Google Podcast

https://play.google.com/music/listen?u=0#/ps/Ip4v7yb4yrk4j47bo2gfnvytqn4

Subscribe & Review in iTunes

Because my podcast is new, I’m asking listeners to write a review on iTunes where you’ll be entered into a weekly drawing at random. When you write a review, you’ll be entered to win a website or social media audit — absolutely FREE. You’ll get strategic marketing feedback that will increase your email list and build loyal customers.

If you want to enter, go to www.3cowmarketing.com/itunes for exact details on how to leave an iTunes review. The process is super easy and should only take 2 mins of your time.

So head on over to https://www.3cowmarketing.com/itunes and I’ll talk to you soon!

{ 10 comments… add one }
  • Gina June 13, 2018, 6:43 am

    Such positive energy!

    • Charlotte June 29, 2018, 12:53 pm

      Thank you, Gina!!

  • Jennifer Beth Kahly June 13, 2018, 8:48 am

    We hosted a farm tour last year and sent out a press release that got printed at the state level. It was fun for us but a lot of work. Here is a link to the article https://www.wvgazettemail.com/life/preston-farm-focused-on-livestock-s-entire-life-cycle/article_4b831f41-2860-5e3d-bf5c-e361bfc4e240.html

    Honestly, the press in the paper was better for us than the actual tour was.
    We also did a pot luck. We didn’t charge any thing for legal reasons.

  • Kay Powell June 13, 2018, 12:50 pm

    We hosted our very first farm to table dinner at our Christmas tree farm last month! We partnered with a local restaurant/caterer that specializes in farm to table and buys his ingredients from small farms. It was a huge success and an amazing evening. Everyone seemed to really enjoy it. We already have people asking when will we have the next one. Most were not our Christmas tree customers. We are hoping they will become tree customers or at least refer us to others.

    • Charlotte June 29, 2018, 12:54 pm

      That is so wonderful to hear, Kay!! Sounds like something you can do regularly and build up that customer base for trees!! How fun!!

  • Kim June 21, 2018, 7:30 am

    Since we mainly sell at farmers market we have hosted several farm day events for customers to purchase products and get a tour. For that we usually need all family helping because as you state there is lots to attend to. It wasn’t widely publicized and we have market liability insurance so did not add anything special though that has definitely been a concern. A $20 minimum purchase per family is the requirement to tour. Most people don’t have a problem with that but have had one group of outsiders show up who heard through the grapevine and were difficult about the $20.
    We also hosted a veggie fermenting class years ago and it was the biggest hit! My local health food chef friend taught and I assisted her. We used our farm fresh veggies and customers got to make their own to take home for the price of the class which as I recall was $10. All the customers bought extra jar and veggies to make a second goodie. Those customers still talk about what a fun day we had and it was very rewarding for my whole family.
    The events definitely solidified relationships with existing customers.
    My class ideas are many but my resources to do more are limited and the legal concern is always there.
    Thanks for the great post. You are always an inspiration.

    • Charlotte June 29, 2018, 12:56 pm

      Thank you for reading, Kim, and glad I can inspire.

      I get that time is limited for all the great event ideas we have!! Me too 🙂

      Yours sounds amazing! I get the $20 up front at reservation, then there’s no having to enforce the purchase policy later. That leaves a bad taste in both parties’ mouths. Everything I do I learned the hard way 😉

  • Gina Hamby July 12, 2018, 12:07 pm

    First Charlotte, I want to say that everything that you are doing, writing and teaching feels like a tremendous blessing! My family has just started a grass based farm specializing in clean, ethically raised meats and seasonal, chemical free produce and eggs. We have been studying from Joel’s books for a few years now and will be going to his intensive discovery seminar next week. All that you are sharing seems to beautifully complement and fill in the blank’s of what we are searching to learn about to make our family farm business something we can pass on to our sons.
    Last month, we hosted our first farm day event. We did educational hayrides, set up yard games, offered free refreshments and sold some of our meat by means of pulled pork sandwiches from the roasted pig we had a friend help us with and sausage and onion Woodfired pizza from our outdoor pizza oven the boys built. We had people placing meat orders that total $3500. It was a lot of work, but we really enjoyed hosting it and allowing people to experience the beautiful place we get to call home.

    • Charlotte July 12, 2018, 1:20 pm

      You are so welcome, Gina!!

      Thanks for sharing what you’re doing – you’re so inspring! Your event sounds amazing. Congrats on the orders!!

      Yes, they are a lot of work, so hopefully, they pay off, which it sounds like yours did!!

      Congrats on the success!!

      -Charlotte

  • Merry Schepers February 9, 2019, 12:03 pm

    I teach classes at the farm, particularly in the winter when the income has been a little sluggish. So far we have hosted a canning class, a sourdough bread class and a puff pastry class. Classes fill up, people bring friends, and it’s a fun 4 hours at the farm. At the puff pastry class, I sold 1/2 hog and 2 pork bundles, added a couple folks to the weekly egg buyer’s list and got a few more members for our summer vegetable co-op. This was from a class of 6. Plus they got new skills, met new friends, became puff pastry baking fiends. I helped instill some confidence in them, and I was so proud of how they all did.

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