Marketing #3: Vehicles and Media

Understanding how your customer learns about your business.

You know what your business is. You know who your customers are. Now, how do you reach them? In other words, you need to discover how your potential customers get information, especially information about the types of products or services you sell. This is where a “Use Case” comes in handy.

A use case is an example of how a customer might react to your marketing campaign and engage your services. It gives you some idea of probable outcomes. Let’s look at an example:

A young couple has their first child and want the very best for that child. This means the best nutrition, the best childhood experiences and the best chance at a good start in life. They have to go somewhere to find information and that’s where you want to be. What do they read? Where do they go for local information? Is it online or in print? Do they attend classes? You need to think like they would. Once you have some idea of how parents are learning about local foods, you can start to put together a marketing plan.

So, go back to the list of what you discovered about your customers. Create some use cases using the types of customers you are trying to reach. Think about how you can reach them. Do that first and then come back for this second part.

Vehicles: What do you use to reach people?

Let’s explore some common tools you can use to market your business. Some are free, others will cost you a bit.

  • Web sites – These are a great place to showcase your static information, such as your company mission, basic photography, address and other contact information, etc. Web sites can be expensive, depending on your comfort level in administering one. Sites, such as,, or can give you low prices and good templates that you can populate. It takes a bit of time to do it, though.
  • Social media – This is where you can place your dynamic, quickly-changing information. It’s free, but requires constant monitoring, just like an ongoing conversation. I use Twitter to share links to sites or articles or to make quick announcements. I use Facebook for longer postings. They each also can reach different audiences. Other platforms have different purposes, such as Pinterest for sharing pictures.
  • Print media – Look for local media that is distributed for free. It’s amazing how effective these can be. They usually are inexpensive to advertise in.
  • Don’t forget networking! Working alongside other small businesses can lead to opportunities for cross-marketing. A tack shop can promote your stable while you promote their products, or a group of businesses can promote themselves cooperatively, reaching a wider audience.

Don’t let online marketing scare you if you haven’t done it before. We all started exactly the same, needing to learn how it works. There’s not really a wrong way to do it.

Okay, on to the next step.

Marketing Your Farm #2: Customers

Now that you’ve had ample time to consider why you do what you do, we are going to take a look at the type of customer you need to attract in order to continue doing what you do. You want your customers to not only return, but to become enthusiastic proponents of your business.

If you haven’t already, watch Seth Godin’s TED Talk on The Tribes We Lead. Yes, go ahead. I’ll wait…

There are a group of people out there who believe just as you do, that locally-grown food can change the world, or that horses can teach kids great skills, or that your business will provide the best customer service. But traditional marketing methods really won’t work to reach them and will cost you entirely too much. Let’s explore how to find that group and interact with them.

Start with your current customers, if you have them. Why and how did they start buying from you? Do you know? What keeps them coming back? Ask them and see how they answer.

If you are trying to start a business, you won’t have current customers to rely on. Start instead with some deductive reasoning. Let’s take the example of a specific rural business – a horse stable. Stables have a number of possible services available for horse owners and those who wish to learn more about horses. If I were the owner of this establishment, and wished to increase the number of young people taking horseback riding lessons, how would I do this?

  1. Make sure you engage with the real customer. Where kids are concerned, the true customers are the parents.
  2. Put yourself in the parents’ shoes. Why should they let their child sit on top of a potentially dangerous, thousand-pound animal? Children who learn horsemanship are better able to creatively solve problems, they become better with communication, they gain confidence, and, in many circumstances, become more outgoing. (Okay, maybe that’s just what it did for me, but I digress…)
  3. Find parents who are concerned about teaching their kids to be more self-reliant. They are going to be the ones who are active with their kids in sports, scouting, music, etc.
  4. This is where you get to do some detective work. You’ll need to discover where these potential customers get their information. What drives them? What do they feel is most important? This is going to be the toughest step, especially if you’re more of an introvert. It’s something you just have to do.

Armed with this information, you can start to put a marketing plan together. So, the next step is determining how to reach people. What method do you use? How can you be sure people will see your marketing materials? Will they be effective?