5 tips for a better farm marketing plan

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The start of the new year can mean a fresh approach to your marketing plan. Whether your current plan needs revamped or you don’t have one at all, these tips can help you break down the process.

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1The plan
At the core of any successful business is a solid marketing plan. Whether a traditional cash grain operation or a small produce farm, the marketing strategies are different, but each farm owner must understand how sound marketing decisions are made. Developing a marketing plan will help keep you focused on your farm goals.

2Know yourself
As the operator of an agricultural operation, your mindset, attitude and knowledge directly affect the decisions made on your farm. Your tolerance toward risk, your personal goals, philosophy and overall marketing know-how will affect how you approach your marketing tactic.

3Know the markets
After determining your personal thoughts and values on marketing, it’s important to gain an understanding of the market situation and outlook. What are the historical prices or your product? What cycles and trends affect prices? What drives price movement of the product? What tools exist to help you with marketing?

4Know your business
Take a hard look at your business including current and projected production levels, cost of production and break-even points. Assess risk capacity by looking at available working capital, debt-to-asset ratios and cash on hand. A business plan will help you understand your operation’s goals and objectives and relate back to these points.

Your relationship with lenders and consultants and your ability to use other information sources can help you get to know your operation better.

5Know and work the plan
Marketing goals should be realistic. Execute your plan with discipline and regularly monitor your progress. Continually reassess your strategy as the markets and your business change.

Source: Penn State Extension, A Four-Step Plan to Marketing.

(Farm and Dairy is featuring a series of “101” columns throughout the year to help young and beginning farmers master farm living. From finances to management to machinery repair and animal care, farmers do it all.)

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