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Cross Marketing

Enhance your business while promoting others’.

By Melody Reynolds

Market table displaying samples from three different farms. All photos by Melody Reynolds.

Farmers Markets and Community Supported Agriculture are spreading like wild fire across the country.  With so many small farms competing for the same direct marketing dollar, many farmers find themselves looking for something to distinguish them, to stand apart from the competition.  Steven Carlson, from Fully Rooted in Rhode Island, suggests just the opposite.  “Do not try to set yourself apart from others: include others and cross market.”  Carlson explains that Fully Rooted, a business that produces raw, cold-pressed juice from local fruits and vegetables, tries to tie farmers together with his product.  He openly displays the farm names of products he has purchased from other farmers to cross market.  Carlson states, “This relationship between vendors has been what has made us successful.”

Andrew Barden, from Barden’s Family Orchard, has the booth directly across from Fully Rooted. As I was asking Barden how cross marketing is working for him, a customer came over who was directed from Fully Rooted.  The customer had just tasted the juice and was told the Crispin Apple provided by Barden gave it the amazing taste. Barden, just smiled and said, “I guess the question has been answered. Cross marketing works for everyone!”

Donnie Reynolds, from Reynolds Barn, encourages cross marketing by distributing recipes to customers that not only use his cheese but incorporate as many other ingredients found at the market as possible.  Reynolds states, “If I give the customers more ideas on how to cook and use my product, the more I sell and the more others around me succeed.”

Fully Rooted cross marketing Farming Turtles Wheat Grass.

Sampling is another great way to cross market, and is also a sure way to attract customers.  Offering easy pick-up food often convinces the customer to stop, take a sample and give the vendor an opportunity to explain what they are tasting and how they can get more.  Simple, quick techniques for cross marketing can include signage stating, “The bread we have sampled our cheese on comes from Seven Stars.”

Lynn Williams, from Seven Stars Bakery, smiles and states, “The most wonderful thing about being a vendor at a farmers market is the camaraderie between vendors.  Cross marketing only enhances the experience for everyone, customers and vendors alike.”  Seven Stars Bakery produces Artisan breads and happily offers their product to other vendors to use for sampling.  They do not charge for this and only ask that the vendor displays a small sign letting the customer know where the bread came from.  In return, Seven Stars uses many local products in their breads and not only states the ingredients but what farm the ingredient came from.

“We are featured in all of Seven Stars products,” states Bonnie S. Kavanagh, RN/Herbalist for Fairland Farm.  Fairland Farm is a cranberry bog in Massachusetts that relies on cross marketing for their success.  “I am proud to say we are on the menu in many Providence restaurants and the only cranberry that Providence Granola uses,” states Kavanagh.  “We give a shout out to all our customers on our website with links to their farms and businesses. Cross marketing works for me when customers walk by with a sample of Providence Granola and tell me how delicious my cranberries are,” states Kavanagh.

Mary Haney, a volunteer at the Coastal Growers Market, states “Whatever we sample we sell more of.  We get creative and combine the unusual for  different tastes and find products that compliment each other.  Products we would only sell a few of, sell out when we sample.”

In the eat local promotions that are taking place, restaurants have also come full circle.  Most restaurants now purchase local products and highlight the farms name on the menu.  Customers read the menu and then conversation starts about each farm.  This menu, for the farmers and producers, serves as a form of free advertising and the restaurant gets noticed for using as many local producers as possible.

Andrew Barden, from Barden Family Orchard selling his apples at the market after Fully Rooted sampled them.

Small grocery stores have also started cross marketing and place signage near a product.  Often times they also have a photo of the farm or farmer so the customer feels a solid connection to the locally sourced food.  This once again, creates conversation among customers and encourages them to seek out the farm for more products or to visit a farmers market and meet the farmer in person.

“The more we all cross market, the further our own advertising dollars go and the better our chances of  survival in farming and markets will be,” said Reynolds.

Melody Reynolds is Food and Marketing editor for Cornell Small Farms Program and Freelance Agricultural writer for Lee Publishing and RI Farm Bureau. For more information on Cross Marketing, she can be reached at melodyreynoldsauthor@cox.net.

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