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					    University of Kentucky                                         College of Agriculture                                           New Crop Opportunities Center




  Marketing Via the
  Internet
  The Internet, one of the newest market channels
  for farm products, can be utilized in a variety of
  marketing strategies. Producers may sell their
  products online through e-commerce, use a Web
  site to take orders for their goods, or simply
  advertise their operation through a “billboard”
  type Web site. Blogs and other Web-based social
  media provide yet another way the Internet can
  be used for promoting a farm enterprise.                                                   However, “marketing” does not necessarily mean
                                                                                             “selling.” The Internet may not be the best means
  This profile is intended to provide a summary and                                          for transacting sales. For example, taking orders
  starting point for growers who are considering                                             online is not a good method of selling products
  using the Internet for marketing. Producers                                                advertised as “a premium, fresh alternative to
  interested in a more comprehensive guide for                                               other produce.” However, the Internet could be
  direct marketing on the Web should consult the                                             used for taking orders for fresh produce delivery
  USDA publication How to Direct Market Farm                                                 or for selling value-added items, such as honey,
  Products on the Internet.                                                                  that can be easily shipped.

  Creating Your Own Web Page                                                                 know Your custoMers
  Focus on Marketing, not selling                                                            Like any other market, Internet selling depends
  Establishing a presence on the Web can benefit                                             on knowing your customers. Asking yourself
  your farm in many ways. The Internet can be                                                basic questions about your customers is a good
  great for promoting your enterprise and increasing                                         place to start. Who are they? Do they have
  your exposure to customers. Advertising and                                                Internet access? Do they use e-mail?
  product promotion through a Web site is used by
  many Kentucky growers to let customers know                                                A clear idea of who your customers are and how
  what varieties are in season and what is going                                             they use the Internet will allow you to develop a
  on at the farm. Not only are more and more                                                 Web site that meets your customers’ needs. For
  consumers shopping online, an even greater                                                 example, there is no need to develop an elaborate,
  number are using the Internet to                                                                             interactive Web site for your
  research future purchases. Your                                                                              orchard if your customers are
  Web site can be another tool in                                                                              only interested in knowing
  a well-planned total marketing                                                                               when different apple varieties
  plan for your farm.                                                                                          are coming into season.

Agriculture & Natural Resources • Family & Consumer Sciences • 4-H/Youth Development • Community & Economic Development

        Educational programs of the Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of race, color, age, sex, religion, disability, or national origin.
Develop a gooD web site                               it goes public on the Internet. The approval
A basic Web site should contain the farm name,        process can take up to five days.
business description, contact information, types
of products available, and where to purchase          This program is free to all Kentucky producers
products (e.g. farm store, farmers market,            and has several advantages for growers who
etc.). Business hours should be included when         choose to participate. It is a great way to advertise,
appropriate. Product descriptions with images         whether the business is just listed in the directory
and pricing information can help enhance the          or a Web page is created. The Web Page Builder
site and serve to better promote the items you        program is extremely easy to use and could be
are marketing. A more elaborate site can include      a good first step (or an alternative) for growers
additional information, such as farm news,            considering designing their own Web page.
special event notices, recipes, a “who we are”        Businesses that already have an Internet site can
page, and a location map.                             include their company link in the directory listing
                                                      and on the Web page, thus providing additional
It is not enough just to have a Web site; you must    advertising. The information on the site can
have one that is well-designed. Unfortunately,        easily be updated at any time.
there are many examples of poorly designed
farm Web sites, including those for small farms       Product Directory
engaged in direct-marketing. The following tips       Information is provided for the KDA directory in
will help you to avoid some of their pitfalls:        two steps. Users should be prepared to provide
    •  The site should be eye-catching, well-         their name, address, two phone numbers, FAX
    organized, and easy to navigate.                  number, e-mail address, name of a contact
    •  Keep the Web site simple. Avoid the            person, and the company Web site URL if there
    excessive use of graphics and images that         is one (step 1). The types of products being sold
    result in a lengthy download time.                are added to the directory by selecting them
    •  Choose font sizes and colors that are easy     from drop-down lists under the Country Store
    to read.                                          and/or Farm Store categories (step 2). The user
    •  Make sure your site is free of errors in       can preview the directory information before
    spelling and grammar.                             submitting it to the KDA.
    •  Contact information should be clearly listed
    on every page.                                    Web Page Builder
    •  Only display information that will be          Once the directory information is completed,
    relevant to potential customers.                  users can choose to continue with steps 3 to 5 to
    •  Maintain your Web site regularly and keep      create a KDA Web page. Step 3 involves adding
    it up-to-date.                                    the text for the Web page. The information
                                                      requested includes: the business name, list
Marketing Through Existing Web Sites                  of products, slogan, company information,
kDa proDuct DirectorY/web page builDer                directions, hours of operation, and up to three
The Kentucky Department of Agriculture                locations where products are sold. Step 4 offers
(KDA) maintains an online directory of markets        a selection of six different Web page designs to
and businesses that sell Kentucky agricultural        choose from and prompts the user to create a Web
products. In addition, the KDA Web Page               site address (URL). Step 5, which is optional,
Builder enables agribusinesses to create a            makes it possible to add KDA logos and/or up to
simple Web page that can be accessed through          three JPG or GIF images to the site. Images must
the KDA directory. The KDA must approve all           be 150 pixels across and no larger than 20 K in
information, including any later updates, before      size. The user can also include an e-commerce
link to the Web page, if desired. The Web page         •  KDA Product Directory
can be previewed before submitting it to the           •  MarketMaker
KDA.                                                   •  Grower associations
                                                       •  National or local private specialty Web sites
KDA Agritourism Web Site                               (e.g. there are online directories of pick-your-
The Kentucky Department of Agriculture (KDA)           own farms)
Division of Agritourism has launched a Web             •  Kentucky Farm Bureau (Certified Roadside
site for the purpose of promoting agritourism in       Farm Markets)
the Commonwealth. Agritourism operators can            •  Local Chamber of Commerce (online
have their business information included in the        business directory)
site’s searchable database. In addition, the KDA       •  State, regional or county on-line farm
will use the registrant’s information to create a      directories
free Web page accessible from this site. Up to
three digital images may be included with the        Use E-mail Effectively
business information. To register, click on the      E-mail has transformed the way that many farm
“Agritourism Business Submission Form” link          marketers do advertising. The cost of direct
near the top of the Kentucky Farms Are Fun           mailings can be greatly reduced through the use
home page. After saving the Agritourism Venue        of e-mail. However, e-mail can also turn into an
Information Form to your computer, the business      annoyance for the consumer. Furthermore, many
data can be typed directly into the document         Web mail servers may identify your e-mail as
and then submitted as an attachment via e-mail.      spam and it may never make it into the recipient’s
Alternately, the blank registration form can be      mailbox.
printed, completed by hand and returned via
traditional mail. The KDA e-mail address and         Follow these guidelines to help ensure that
postal mailing address are listed at the bottom of   your e-mail communication with customers is
the registration form. You can also request an       effective:
electronic form from the KDA contact person             •  Be concise—but without seeming in a hurry.
listed on the site.                                     •  Include your hours of operation, contact
                                                        information, and brief directions.
On-line Directories and Databases                       •  Let customers know when your next e-mail
Adding your business to one or more online              update will be coming.
directories and/or searchable databases is              •  Provide customers with a clear way to
another way to increase your farm’s visibility on       unsubscribe from the e-mail list, if they desire.
the Internet. Some of these sites will list only        •  Always include other useful information
your business name and contact information,             in addition to what you are advertising. For
while others may allow you to enter additional          example, if you have a farm peach festival
information, such as a product list. Growers with       approaching, provide some recipes using fresh
a business Web page can generally include a link        peaches.
to their site, thus making that site available to       •  Incorporate printable coupons into your
even more customers.                                    e-mail.

The following is a list of some groups and           Internet-based Social Media
organizations that maintain a directory or           Social media are Internet tools for sharing and
database online. A search of the Internet will       exchanging information in the form of text,
no doubt reveal many more possibilities. While       photos, and videos. This includes blogs (Internet
some directories/databases are available for free    journals), as well as social networking programs
use, others may charge a fee.                        like Twitter and Facebook. Flickr (photo sharing)
and YouTube (video sharing) are also forms of              they can then determine which methods will best
social media. These Internet communication                 meet these goals. Consideration should also be
devices provide a way for anyone and everyone to           given to the grower’s personality, abilities, and
post, share, and comment on various topics online.         schedule. For example, writing a weekly blog
                                                           will require a time commitment, writing skills,
Using social media to promote farming enterprises          and a certain amount of creativity.
is a fairly new concept. Like an Internet Web
page, social media can allow growers to connect
with a wider audience, one that extends well               Selected Resources
beyond the farming community. Social media,                •  Kentucky Farms Are Fun (KDA Division of
however, permits the user to connect on a bit              Agritourism)
more of a personal level (e.g. blogs) and often            http://www.kentuckyfarmsarefun.org
encourages exchanges between the grower and                •  Kentucky MarketMaker
the general public (e.g. Facebook). As such,               http://www.marketmakerky.com
these Web-based tools are useful for building              •  Kentucky Product Directory and Web Page
and strengthening relationships with both current          Builder (KDA)
customers and potential ones.                              http://www.kyagr.com/buyky/webbuild/index.
                                                           htm
Farmers may choose to use social media                     •  Where to Buy Kentucky Products (KDA)
tools to highlight their business, to showcase             http://www.kyagr.com/buyky/index.htm
their products, and to educate the general                 •  Direct Marketing (ATTRA, 1999)
public regarding farming practices. Social                 http://attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/summaries/
networking sites are useful for providing                  directmkt.html
brief farm updates, such as when a particular              •  How to Direct-Market Farm Products on the
crop is ready to harvest. Many of these social             Internet (USDA, 2002)
media tools have the added bonus of being                  http://agmarketing.extension.psu.edu/Retail/
free, or at least relatively inexpensive, to use.          howdrctmrktoninternet.html
                                                           •  Social Media in Agriculture (Ohio Farm
One North Carolina blueberry grower reports                Bureau, 2009)
a 25% increase in the number of customers                  http://ofbf.org/media-and-publications/
visiting her farm since she began a weekly blog.           read/3/202/
Through the blog, she is able to keep customers            •  Using E-commerce to Add Value to Small
interested in what is going on at her farm,                Farm Businesses in California (University of
promote her products, share recipes, and pass on           California, 2002)
practical information to readers. In addition, the         http://www.sarep.ucdavis.edu/CDPP/
blog provides a valuable link between the non-             ecommerce.htm
farming community and the farm.                            •  Why Social Media and Local Food Go
                                                           Together Like Butter & Fresh Sweet Corn (Food
Growers wanting to pursue the use of social                Industry MarketMaker Blog, 2010)
media should first define their purpose and goals.         http://ky.marketmaker.uiuc.edu/mmblog/index.
After investigating the various types available,           php?entry=entry100121-125522


Photo courtesy of Cheryl Kaiser, University of Kentucky                     Issued 2006; Updated May 2010

Prepared by: Matt Ernst & Tim Woods (tawoods@uky.edu) University of Kentucky Department of Agricultural Economics
     400 Charles E. Barnhart Building, Lexington, KY, 40546-0276      Phone 859-257-5762  Fax 859-323-1913
                                       http://www.ca.uky.edu/agecon/index.php

				
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