In this section you will find resources on how to plan your market year, promote your market, grow a volunteer base, start a kids club, and plan events.
1. Work Planning
- Monthly Work Plan Here’s an example of a pre-season checklist from the “Washington State Farmers Market Management Toolkit” with a month-by-month work plan to assure that you are ready to fully operate once your market opens.
- This Strategic Planning Toolkit can help address common challenges and provide a disciplined, collective path for market organizers to ensure your farmers market’s long term viability.
2. Marketing, Promotion & Advertising
Marketing For All. The University of Kentucky Center for Crop Diversification offers a wide variety of marketing training including website development, social media basics, visual merchandising, and more.
Marketing 101: This webinar by Emilie Davis of LinkHouse Consultants was created for members of the Virginia Farmers Market Association (VAFMA) will help you clarify your identity to connect with customers. It goes over business identity, elements of branding, and general social media tips and guidance.
Toolkit for Adapting Farmers Markets to Match Consumer Trends: The Farmers Market Federation of NY, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Broome County, CISA, University of Maryland Extension, the Maryland Farmers Market Association, and Vermont NOFA partnered on a three-year project with Northeast SARE that focused on the perceived downward trend at farmers markets in those states and across the country. After an extensive consumer survey was conducted with responses from across the country, a toolkit was created which addresses challenges and opportunities related to customer shopping trends at farmers markets. There are 4 major sections followed by examples of how these tools were put into practice. The sections are:
- Marketing to Today’s Customer
- Building Market Programs that Draw and Maintain Market Shoppers
- Enhancing the Customer Experience
- From the Farmer’s Perspective
Marketing Planning: Each year, it’s important to map out how you will reach your customers. Here are resources on how to do that.
- Article: Know Yourself, Know Your Market, Have a Plan: In this blog post, Brett Wolf from the University of Kentucky Center for Crop Diversification outlines how to create a successful marketing plan.
- Webinar: Know Yourself, Know Your Market, Have a Plan: For a more in-depth look, check out this CFA webinar with Brett Wolf from the Center for Crop Diversification that includes a review of some basic marketing principles including considering your product, understanding your market and customers, and some of the promotional options available to get your message out.
- Farmers Market Planning Toolkit: Marketing Your Market: The West Virginia Farmers Market Association worked with a marketing firm, and other contributors to create this toolkit. This toolkit is meant to be a practical guide to marketing for WV farmers markets. Each section of this document will highlight a different category of marketing and will give you information and guidance on what those marketing terms mean, why those strategies are important to farmers markets and what sort of farmers markets each type of marketing may work for. In addition to this, there are several hands-on planning tools included throughout the document and in the appendices that can be utilized by farmers markets, such as checklists, templates, and collaborative planning documents.
When farmers’ markets have their brand figured out, it helps sets the standard for vendors, new customers will find it easily, and community partners will understand your “why”.
- Article: Discovering Your Brand: Branding, in our specific world of farmers markets, means understanding our values and standards while ensuring that we are communicating those effectively to the world. Read this article by James Cochran from CFA’s Farmers Market Support Program to figure out the who, what, when, how, and, why of your market.
- Webinar: Finding Your Brand: Too frequently, farmers markets have to fight to be remembered by the average consumer. Watch this free CFA webinar by Natalie Biesel, a small business coach, and learn how to set yourself apart.
- Brand Clarity Questionnaire: This worksheet will help you discover your market’s unique story and place in the community.
- Next Level Facebook Marketing – Leveraging Post Boosts, Ads, and Going Live. In this article by Kati Bowman from KCARD, you will learn how to bring awareness to your market by promoting content, leveraging Facebook’s post boosts, developing ads, and increasing your skills to “go live”.
- Social Media for your Market: Given the seemingly infinite social media options, where does a farmers market with an already extremely busy market manager start? Check out this link from Washington State Farmers Market Management Toolkit for tools and resources on how to choose which social media platform(s) is best for you and how to maximize your presence on it.
- Nice, Simple Graphics and Advertisements: In this webinar from the University of Kentucky Center for Crop Diversification, you will learn how to create eye-catching graphics using a free online design tool.
- Listing your Farmers Market on Google: A simple search on google could direct new customers to you if you create a free business profile. In this webinar, Brett Wolf from the University of Kentucky Center for Crop Diversification will cover pros and cons plus some key considerations for creating a free business listing on google.com.
- Step-by-Step Instructions for setting up “Google My Business” Google My Business is your business listing on the Google search engine.
- Promoting Your Market Online: A webinar from the UK CCD where you can learn more about social media marketing, options & tips for building your email marketing approach, and considerations about building a website.
- Farmers Market Marketing Checklist: Here’s a checklist provided by Carson Farmers Market in Nevada to help keep you on schedule with social media posts, e-mail marketing, and Google Business management.
- Attract Food Vendor Sales and Set Safety Expectations with an Easy to Build Social Media Plan. Value-Based Marketing is a marketing appeal to a customer’s values and ethics. It’s a way to focus your marketing by streamlining your messages to whom your ideal customer is and what that customer’s reason for shopping at the market is. Here is a list of resources to help you build a successful social media plan using a value-based model.
Working with the Media: Getting media coverage on your market is the best way to get the word out, and it doesn’t have to cost money. Check out this webinar by Sarah Fritschner, a consultant with Grow Kentucky, to learn fundamentals that can earn free media coverage all season long. Also, check out this press release template.
3. Event Planning
Sampling & Cooking Demonstrations
- How to host a cooking demonstration: Cooking demonstrations are a sure bet to increaseattendance, excitement, and most importantly sales at farmers’ markets. This publication from the Kansas Rural Center you’ll learn what it takes to launch a demonstration program, get tips on how to keep things running smoothly on the big day, and garner ideas forpromoting your market’s new venture.
- Multi-farmer sampling station at your Farmers Market: According to Sharon Spencer from the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, the market is allowed to have a central sampling station/booth with an individual(s) offering samples of multiple vendors products. The individual(s) offering the samples must have their sampling certificate that corresponds to what they are sampling and it must be posted. The same rules and guidelines apply as if the individual was offering samples of their own product. The sampling station would need to have a handwashing station available too. Your local extension office may be able to come to your market to do group sampling. Individual vendor sampling also generates customer engagement with the entire market so encourage your vendors to sample their products. Sampling requires completing Produce Best Practices Training and an application.
On-line Cooking Demos. (for social media or newsletters)
- Plate It Up! Kentucky Proud: Videos that demonstrate how to prepare Kentucky Proud! recipes.
- The Food Connection at UK: videos that teach cooking and simple food prep. of seasonal Kentucky food.
Music at the farmers market
- Copyright License: If musicians play copyrighted music as part of a farmers market, that market, or the hosting organization, is legally obligated to pay a licensing fee. Learn more in this letter to members from the Farmers Market Coalition.
- Entertainer Rules Template: A concise one-page sample set of rules for performing artists at a farmers market from the Farmers Mkt. Coalition website.
- Engagement Opportunities: Did you know that May is “National Salad Month” or October is “National Hunger Awareness” month? Find out more specially designated dates to base your special event around.
- Also, see “Market Events and Promotion” in the 2020-21 KY Department of Ag Farmers Market Manual.
4. Volunteer Recruitment & Management
- ISOTURE Model for Volunteer Management: Recruiting and retaining volunteers can be tough. The model in this article can help your market create a volunteer plan.
- If you want more help, see the step-by-step PowerPoint presentation given at a CFA Farmers Market Support Program workshop PowerPoint and the accompanying worksheet activity sheet to walk you through developing a Volunteer Recruitment & Retention Plan
- Managing risks with volunteers and interns: Although written for farmers, many of the same concerns apply to farmers markets.
- VolunteerMatch is an on-line recruitment tool to help match people who are passionate about and committed to your farmers market. It also helps with managing your volunteer base.
5. Children’s Programs
- This is a publication from Washington State about starting a kids program.
- Power of Produce (POP) The Farmers Market Coalition (FMC) provides a set of over 50 tools, guides, and templates to help communities engage younger customers in the farmers market experience through POP Club. To have access to the tools, one must be an FMC member market.
- Example of “veggie bucks” where kids can purchase fresh fruits and vegetables at the farmers’ market:
- Morgan County, KY: To address the high rate of obesity and chronic disease in Morgan County, Extension personnel, homemaker volunteers, The Morgan County Diabetes Coalition, and Morgan County Farmers Market members collaborated on the “Kids Veggie Bucks” program.
- KERNEL (Kids Eating Right and Nutrition and Exercise for Life): A youth-oriented nutrition and physical activity program in Washington State designed to engage children in learning about lifelong healthy eating habits, gardening, and exercise.
- Overview of Kentucky Farmer’s Market Incentives and Engagement from Partnership for a Fit KY includes information about a kid’s veggie bucks program.