A Marketing Plan should concisely answer the questions: What are the industry and market trends for my product? Who are my customers? Who is my competition? What can I charge? and How will I promote my product throughout the year? Articulating well-researched answers to these questions is one of the most important steps you can take toward your success!
Document the answers to these questions using the following worksheet to draft your marketing plan online as part of your overall business planning process:
This is Too Hard to Do!
Most new farmers don’t define any particular target customers because it can be difficult to imagine and describe the characteristics of who you want to buy your product. If you haven’t started farming yet, it’s hard enough to envision what your product will be and how to produce it… wrapping your brain around price points and target customers is a major leap from there. But if you want to grow your farm into a profitable enterprise to support yourself full- or even part-time, it’s a critical exercise!
Market Analysis: What is my Target Market?
A target market is a well defined group of customers. Markets can be found within any broad category: consumers, businesses, industries, institutions, etc. Consumer groups, for instance, can be characterized by demographics, geography, lifestyle, values, leisure, or occupation. Business customers can be defined in terms of markets, products, management styles, distributions channels or size. Value-added product marketing includes the end consumers of your product/services and the businesses that may distribute and sell your product to the end user.
Begin market planning by clearly identifying the market you want to target. Note that this may or may not be the market you are working with now. The idea here is to think creatively about your product to determine what set of customers are going to give your business the cash flow, profit and growth it needs.
Download the worksheet above, or start with a big piece of blank paper. Across the top write a brief description of your product as currently conceived. Next write your answers to the following four key questions:
- Who will buy my product?
- Why will they buy my product?
- What will they pay for my product?
- Where do they expect to find this product?
Try to put yourself in the shoes of people who shop at the venue you’re considering. Or think about customers you’ve seen purchase from farms similar to yours. When you are finished, step back and consider what you have learned. Write:
- A brief, focused description of your target market
- An assessment of which aspects of your business need to change in order to attract this market
- A list of what is involved with making needed changes.
Product Development: What am I going to Market?
Now that you have a clearer idea of WHO your market is and what they want, how does your product meet their needs? Remember that products are continually fine-tuned as you better understand the needs of your customers and the mechanics of your business. The challenge is to think about your product from the perspective of your target market. Next, answer the following set of research questions:
- What is my product?
- What is the best method to package and present my product?
- What need or niche does my product fill?
Sometimes you’ll find that other people have already done some of the research for you! As just one example, consider these reports on which messages work best for consumers:
*Reposted from Practical Farmers of Iowa with permission. Studies conducted by Practical Farmers of Iowa, a non-profit, educational organization that began in 1985 and now has more than 2,300 individual members in Iowa and neighboring states.
When you have finished answering the research questions, take a second piece of paper and summarize your answers into:
- A creative, market-informed description of your product
- A concept of how you will make your product meet the needs of your end consumers and channel customers while being competitively priced and profitable.