In this section, you will find resources on how to plan your market year, track key market data, promote your market, grow a volunteer base, 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. Daily Market Reports
Setting up and maintaining daily reports is crucial in helping your market evaluate the health of the business as well as making future decisions about the market. This is also useful information to attract sponsors and to be awarded grants. Before you open that first day, vendors, managers, and the board should have in place an efficient and effective method for collecting and storing basic daily data. Here are some key data points:
- Customer Counts: These can be done daily, weekly, or monthly. Visitors are counted as they enter the market using a hand-held clicker or another easy-to-use counting device. This can be done as a full daily count or as a sampling cunducted at timed intervals throughout the day (i.e. count all customers entering the market for 10 minutes at the top of each hour and multiply that by 6). The Farmers Market Coalition has an excellent resource for collecting visitor counts using this tool. Crowd Counting for the Farmers Market Support Program is a webinar detailing how to conduct crowd counts and why it’s important.
- Vendor Sales: Sales reports should include SNAP, WIC Senior FMNP, and credit/debit if your market uses a central token or script system. These can be collected daily, weekly, or monthly. Some vendors prefer that it remain anonymous but, knowing sales data for each particular vendor provides some particularly useful data. Here are some examples of vendor sales slip. For more information on how to collect vendor sales numbers, see Market Mindfulness #9:The Importance of Collecting Daily Vendor Sales. The Kentucky Dept. of Agriculture has developed a tool to help you track vendor sales.
- Vendor Attendance: Each day, vendor attendance attendance should be taken. Ideally, the type of vendor will be noted. (farmer, meat, craft, value added food, etc.). This is especially important for grant writing and reporting as well as keeping track of the variety and balance of products being offered at the market. The Farmers Market Coalition has developed a workbook to help track both vendor sales and vendor attendance.
- Weather and Special Events: These may influence customer and vendor attendance so should be included to track how these events impact sales and attendance.
- Volunteers and Staff: See the below information about managing volunteers and Growing a Market: Managing a Market Manager in this toolkit.
For more detailed information on how to collect and use your daily market data, see these resources:
- Markets Vitals Project: Markets Count! Collecting, Managing, and Deploying Your Data from the Washington State Farmers Market Toolkit.
- 2020-21 Kentucky Department of Agriculture (KDA) Farmers Market Manual
- Farmers Market Coalition Farmers Market Evaluation Tools and Tips.
3. 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) and will help you clarify your identity so you can connect with your ideal 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
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.
Advertising with Kentucky Proud
The Kentucky Proud Promotional Grant reimburses members for up to 50 percent of future eligible expenses for advertising, marketing, and reaching consumers at the point of purchase to promote agricultural products with direct Kentucky farm impact. Grants are limited to 10 percent of the applicant’s reported direct Kentucky farm impact up to $8,000 a year or a lifetime cap of $36,000.
For more information, contact Jonathan Van Balen at firstname.lastname@example.org or (502) 782-4132. For an application, guidelines, and other documents, go to kyagr.com/marketing/grants.html.
4. 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.
- –THIS ALLOWANCE HAS BEEN SUSPENDED DURING COVID UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE- 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.
- 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: Make sure performers and your market have a clear understanding of what is allowable by creating a simple set of rules. Here is a template from the Farmers Mkt. Coalition website to help you create a concise set of rules adaptable to your market.
- 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.
Farm to Fork
Farm To Fork – Showcasing Kentucky farm products
The Farm to Fork program provides incentives for local organizations to host dinners that showcase local farms, farmers, producers, and Kentucky Proud products while benefiting a local charity. This cost-share grant reimburses up to 50 percent (no more than $500) of the approved applicant’s event promotional expenditures branded with the Kentucky Proud logo.
5. 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 in creating a volunteer recruitment and management plan, see the step-by-step PowerPoint presentation given at a CFA Farmers Market Support Program workshop PowerPoint and the accompanying 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.