Greg Judy introduced Kathy to Charlotte at the April “Our Farms Our Future Conference” because he’d heard her talk and knew that she had a lot to offer On Pasture and its readers. She has been kind enough to provide us with this first in a series and we’re working on ways we can provide you even more. Enjoy!
I talk to a lot of farmers that think it’s impossible to be a profitable farm. With high competition and grocery stores (including online!) flooding the market, it’s no wonder you think this.
I’m here to tell you it is absolutely possible and I can show you how. I’ve done it for myself over the last decade and I’ve shown thousands of farmers how to do it too.
This list will give you the essentials and foundation you need to start making money on your farm.
Yes, I believe your farm should be profitable and you should be paid for all the hard work, labor and love that you put into everything you do. No matter how much we think we’re doing it for the love of the land, the animals, and farming – love doesn’t pay the bills.
If you don’t have these steps in place, then you’re right, you probably aren’t making money on your farm.
You deserve to make a profit just like any other business. As a matter of fact, it is your obligation to make a profit so you’ll be here to serve your community for the long run — and I want to show you how!
Hey, I’m Charlotte!
And the first thing you need to know is that I’m a farmer, too.
I shovel manure, just like you.
I milk the cows at 5:00 am before making breakfast for my daughter and husband. I haul a flock of chickens to the butcher to make my husband’s favorite dinner. I’ve had to calm down a customer who missed out on the last package of beef bones.
I’ve been where you are.
As a farmer’s daughter, I saw the struggles my father faced as he closed the barn doors and sold everything when he went bankrupt in 1980.
Our family was devastated, but I understood from a young age that if you didn’t make money, you couldn’t stay in business.
Years after the loss of our family farm, I had a desire to feed my family healthy, real food, the kind of food I couldn’t buy anywhere, and I bought land and started my own farm, knowing it had to look very different from my father’s.
Desperate to succeed, I learned everything I could on how to make money and stay in business.
That was more than 10 years ago. Today, I’m proud to say not only do I have a profitable farm, I get to teach thousands of farmers in the US and around the world how I was able to make this my reality.
I teach content marketing, which is about building a relationship with your current and potential customers. I teach you how to stand out in the marketplace and position yourself as an authority with your customers so that you will be the “go-to” farmer in your community for your products.
Teaching farmers how to build a profitable farm is my passion and I’m so happy to share this with you today.
1. Shift Your Mindset
You have to embrace this concept of “there is no competition.”
“What, Charlotte? How is that possible? Everyone is selling meat, eggs, raw milk, vegetables etc.”
When you try to compete with others selling the same products, perhaps by having a lower price or offering a coupon, you’ll never be successful. It’s impossible; there will always be someone cheaper, faster, better.
Instead, when you find your tribe (a loyal customer base) and develop a deep relationship of trust with them, you become “their” farmer. They will not dream of purchasing their milk, meat or vegetable elsewhere.
Because they aren’t buying your product, they’re buying YOU and what you do for them.
When you learn to communicate this difference and how your products help them solve their problems and reach their goals, you’ll have customers for life.
The sooner you get on board with this belief, the more successful you’ll be.
2. Attract Your Dream Customer
Now that your mindset is shifted to that of “there is no competition,” you can focus on attracting a loyal customer base.
Your goal should be to create your own unique dream customer by talking to a current customer you love. You know, that customer you wish all your other customers was like.
Ask yourself these questions when it comes to identifying who they are and why they shop with you.
• What’s his/her name? (most of the time women are doing the purchasing of farm products, so consider that your dream customer is probably a woman)
• What is their age range?
• Do they have children and if so, what ages are they?
• What is their lifestyle like?
• What does their average day look like?
• What’s their income level?
We’ll get into this more in next week’s article, but I want you thinking about your dream customer and who would be ideal to buy your products.
Your list could look something like this. A customer that:
• Loves buying high-quality meats, fruits, vegetables and flowers.
• Feels connected to you (through relationship building).
• Will drive an hour every week or two to visit your farm store.
• Has two kids ages 12 and 15, a husband that works a corporate job.
• Is in her early-40s and wants to eat healthier, more natural foods, but doesn’t have a lot of time to prepare them.
Trust me when I say this exercise works. Farmers across the world (that I work with daily) are doing this exercise and attracting their ideal customer and watching their sales increase many-fold.
3. Build an Email List
After you’ve shifted your mindset and identified your dream customer, it’s time to build an email list of subscribers.
Now, I’m not talking about sending emails from a personal Yahoo, Outlook or Gmail account (that’s illegal and will get your account shut down).
I’m talking about using an email service provider like MailChimp, Mailerlite, ConvertKit. If you don’t know what these are, that’s ok.
All you need to know is that you can open a free account and start collecting email address from people that “raise their hand” to hear from you and your farm. Maybe you met them at a farmers market or they’ve visited your farm store and purchased something.
Keep in mind that you need permission and consent to send someone an email so make sure they agree and you treat their email address with the utmost respect.
If you don’t get them on your email list then you can’t stay connected or reach out to them.
Overlooking or skipping this essential and critical step will cost you hundreds, if not, thousands of dollars.
And if you’re trying to build your “Likes” on Facebook or following on Instagram, you’re doing it wrong.
Social media is used to build engagement and drive traffic to your website. It’s not for selling!
Email marketing is your foundation for making money on your farm! Open a free account with MailChimp and start collecting emails today!
Don’t know what to say now that you have their email address? Keep reading and I’ll give you some ideas.
4. Consistency For The Win
Once you have an email list, be consistent with your content. If you’re consistent and send your customers information they enjoy reading, you’ll win the email marketing game every time.
And I don’t mean get them on your email list and randomly email them throughout the year or only when you have something to sell.
Actually, that is THE WORST thing you could do (they feel like they only matter to you when you have something to sell).
Do not spam your potential customer with “buy my stuff” from day one. That’s the fastest way to lose a customer and MONEY.
Your customers need to feel like you’re there to help them and they feel this when you communicate with them at least once a month (12x a year), even if you sell a seasonal product.
When your email communication with them is consistent, this will lead to more sales and a deeper customer relationship.
5. Plan Your Content
Now that you have an email list and you’re determined to be consistent, what do you say?
Let’s assume you’re going to send 12 emails over the next year. (Yes, that’s a year’s worth of email content that you can plan and start writing today.)
Here’s a list of possible “things to say” month-by-month. Just click to download a year’s worth of ideas you can “steal” from me and you’ve got your marketing in place. And you just tweak it a little and reuse it the next year.
6. Show Up + Take Action
Listen, I know it’s not easy to put yourself out there and to talk about your farm, but you must if you want to make money.
If no one knows about you, how on earth will your ideal customers ever buy from you?
So my challenge to you is to build a relationship with your current (or potential) customers that is so valuable that they would never dream of buying their products you sell from anyone else.
And I hear this all the time, too.
“But Charlotte I’m an introvert. I’d rather be milking cows than talking to customers. I never know what to say.”
I completely understand that it can be scary and awkward, but if you’re here to learn how to make money you have to talk to the customers that are buying from you.
Here is a list of questions you can use to get the conversation rolling:
1. What brought you out to buy our products today?
2. What problem does my (chicken, beef, vegetables, eggs, product) solve for you and/or your family?
3. What did you love most about the meat (or other product) you bought last week?
4. Would you like a good recipe for this cut?
There you have it:
The six steps you need to start making money on your farm. I’ve been using these steps for years and it’s the fastest way I know how to make money as a farmer and start living that farm life you’ve dreamed of!
Now, I’d love to hear from you.
1. Which step(s) are you missing on your farm?
2. On a scale of 1-10 how likely are you going to take action and make a change?
And for a little more, here’s why Kathy is so excited about working with Charlotte.