Eggs, eggs everywhere but not a customer in sight. If this describes your egg business, it’s time to think about Marketing 101. This includes both what is in your ads and where you are putting them. If you don’t have ads yet, this is the perfect time to start.
Marketing isn’t as scary as most people think. It is not just a bunch of corporate suits in high-rise office buildings designing ways to trick you into buying their product. It doesn’t require television ads, catchy tunes, or guys screaming at the top of their lungs about getting a great deal on a used car. Sure, you can use those things, but would they really work for your egg business?
There are really only three parts to any great marketing plan:
The follow up.
Your ad answers all the basic questions your customers need to know: what, who, why, where, when, and how. In 100 words or less.
What are you selling?
Eggs. Maybe a little obvious, but…
What kind of eggs? Are you selling organic eggs? Colored eggs? Plain old farm-fresh brown eggs? What about your chickens? Are they free ranged? Do you have heritage breeds? How you describe your product and your husbandry practices goes a long way toward finding the right customers for your eggs. It also gives people an idea of what they are getting.
When you are advertising your eggs, be honest, but very specific about what makes your eggs special.
Who is your customer? Why should they buy eggs from you?
Egg buyers come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but they are special people. They are people willing to forego throwing a dozen eggs in their grocery cart while they are doing their weekly shopping. Instead, they will schlep themselves out to your farm to buy specifically from you.
For your ad, think about why these people are willing to do that. Is it for health reasons? Do they prefer the taste of fresh eggs over grocery store eggs? Do they want to support local businesses? This gives you a chance to show off your stellar chicken farming practices and reassure folks they can have a great product from ethically raised chickens. More often than not your customers will tell you why they come to you.
“My customers always tell me how much they love the variety of colors my eggs have” said Alexandra Wallace-Currie who runs A Pretty Farmer in Connecticut.
Pay attention to those chats and what your customers tell you about your eggs!
Where and When do you sell your eggs?
Customer will, of course, need to know where to buy your lovely eggs. Do you sell at a local farmer’s market, if so, what are the hours? Are you willing to deliver within a certain mileage range? Maybe you only sell from the farm. Point is, if people don’t know where and when they can find your eggs, they will have a hard time buying them from you.
How can they purchase your eggs?
Do you accept credit cards? EBT?** Cash only? Don’t wait until your customer is standing in front of you with a carton of eggs in their hands before you tell them you only take cash. In today’s world many people don’t carry cash. You also want to give people a way to contact you. Always include at least a phone number in your ad so people can call and ask questions or request more eggs when they run out.
** (Electronic benefit transfer (EBT) is an electronic system that allows state welfare departments to issue benefits via a magnetically encoded payment card.)
After you answer these questions, writing your ad will be simple. It might go like this:
“Delicious farm fresh eggs available in a variety of colors. Perfect for people who want to know exactly what goes into their food and enjoy a little extra color in their life. Our chickens are free-ranged, fed a mixture of dark, leafy greens, and high-quality grains. Visit us this weekend at the Springfield Farmer’s Market from 8 am until 2 pm or stop by the farm Tuesday thru Thursday 9 am to 1 pm. Cash and major credit cards accepted, no checks please. Call 555-1212 for more information.”
Add a great image of your eggs, and your ad is ready to go.
The egg business is a local business, not something you need a Super Bowl ad for (even if your chickens would look great running next to giant Clydesdales). Which is good news for you. Superbowl ads aren’t cheap, and you would need to sell a whole lot of eggs to cover one thirty-second spot. Instead, try some local options that are low or no cost.
Print options are available everywhere but you are looking for the right print option. Small community newspapers such as local small business or co-op papers, monthly grocery store handouts, or even small newspapers put out by your local tourism association will be a great place to try your ads. Most print options have some cost but these smaller papers usually offer pretty inexpensive advertising. Your local chamber of commerce or tourism association might even let you put your ad in their paper for free if you are willing to join their association.
There are more and more digital options available to small business owners every day. These options are easy to access, low or no cost, and adding fantastic images doesn’t double or triple the price. If you are on a tight budget, digital options would be the place to start.
Craigslist has been around for a while but sites like Nextdoor.com are becoming just as popular, if not more so. These sites aim to connect neighbors and create a sense of community that seems to be missing in today’s fast-paced world. It’s also a great place to tell your neighbors you sell eggs. Other places to look are digital bulletin boards put up by your town, or local digital newspapers. You may be able to have your ad up in five places by the end of the day.
Social Media Options
Don’t discount social media. Facebook offers many farmer’s market groups or local yard sale pages that are perfect for selling your eggs. If you are an Instagram fan, tag your town with the hash tag #eggsforsale to find local people looking for farm fresh eggs.
The Follow Up
Following up is a two-way street. You want return customers and you want to be organized in advance. This type of interaction creates loyalty and gives you the absolute best type of advertising there is: word of mouth.
A sticker on the carton with your contact information reminds people what to do when they run out of eggs. Handing out business cards is another good strategy to give your customers a way to follow up with you.
You might have a sign-up list available and gather customer email addresses. You can use those (judiciously) to advertise the farmer’s market/s that you attend, or any egg specials you’ll be running. Ask them to follow your egg page on Facebook as an easy, and less intrusive way to share information, pictures and stories about your birds.
Creating a marketing plan for your egg business isn’t hard. Figure out who your customer is, find the best way to connect with them and always give them a way to reach out to you. Your egg business will be clucking along in no time. Best of all, it will give you a great excuse to get more chickens!
Michele Cook is a farmer, author, and communications specialist for the National Federation of Press Women. She raises chickens, goats, and vegetables on her small farm in the beautiful Allegheny mountains of Virginia. If she is not outside caring for her farm you can find her curled up in a chair with her nose stuck in a good book. You can read more about her chickens at www.toesinthedirt.com