Agvocacy: Promoting Your Farm On The Web Trase Passantino Serenity Acres Now, LLC Why Promote My Farm On The Web? How are customers finding you otherwise? Less people use the Yellow Pages, use web instead Losing business to farms that do have websites People want to be more in touch with their food sources Gives customers 24/7 access to learn about your farm's offerings even if you aren't available Builds stronger relationships with your customers because they can personally interact with you and the farm - even when not at the farm. Before You Get Started Get an email address from an “agnostic” provider – so when your ISP changes, your email address does not. It will be consistent for any accounts you sign up for and will save confusion and difficulty in the future. Gmail Yahoo Hotmail What type of Internet connectivity do you have? Broadband (DSL/Cable/Satellite/EVDO) are ideal for updating websites Before You Get Started Make your passwords difficult to guess so you don't get hacked and have your business image tarnished. Low likelihood, but better safe than sorry. Do a long string of random words and a symbol, like “squashbugslaughter!” or “c0yotecliffslam.” Length is more important than complexity. Before You Get Started Decide who on the farm will be primary person to manage web presence, answer emails, create site content, etc. Know your current audience/customer base, give them the information they want. Decide who you want to add to that audience. Is there additional info the additional audience would want? Where On The Web? Directory Sites Social Media Facebook, LinkedIn Classifieds Sites Local Harvest, Farmer's Pal, RealMilk BestFarmBuys, Craigslist Your Own Website/Blogging Directory Sites Sites that are designed to provide customers an easy way to search for the farm products they want Some examples are: LocalHarvest.org FarmersPal.com EatWellGuide.org EatWild.com Specific to raw milk: RealMilk.com Listing Your Farm On A Directory Some sites are account based, others are submission based. You control all of the listing information on an account based site. If you want to change something, you log in and do it. A submission based site means that you will contact the site administrator and request to be listed on their site, providing them the information. Can be more difficult to update, so make sure you are sure of what you want to have listed there. LocalHarvest A directory site that is account based Sign up for an account, then set up your own listing You can also set up a store Shipping options or local pickup only Customers search by geographic proximity and types of products offered FarmersPal, EatWellGuide, EatWild These are submission based sites. You submit a request to be listed on the site and wait for them to add you Make sure you include what types of products you offer so that will be included in the listing It's important to insure accuracy since you will be waiting on the site staff to make any updates/corrections to your listing RealMilk.com This site is affiliated with the Weston A. Price Foundation and promotes the benefits and protection/rights to raw milk You can announce the availability of herd shares from your farm here This is a submission type site, and it is only updated periodically, so make sure the info you submit is exactly what you want shown Your Farm & Social Media Keep your personal socializing and your business social presence separate on the Internet – maintain separate accounts for each Make sure that you set up a business-specific account on the social media site. For instance, set up a Facebook “Fan” page, not a personal profile using business name Facebook Set up a Business Profile Page www.facebook.com/pages/create.php Use to interact with fans in a personal manner – this will help attract/retain them as customers If you farm-blog or farm-Tweet, use tools to link so updates from those will post to Facebook fan page Become a “fan” of other farms & businesses Networking/knowledge Geographic proximity of fans Advertise you are on Facebook on your website, promotional materials, business cards, etc. LinkedIn Need to first create a Personal Profile Page w/farm name listed as employer Then you create a company page for your employer (your farm name), with you as the owner There are farm-themed discussion groups Networking with individuals and companies Twitter A way to connect in short messages (140 characters or less) Hashtags highly recommended (#smallfarm #goats #chickens #realmilk) Network with other farms, vendors, and potential customers AgBlogFeed is a great account to network with – will broadcast your blog updates Can post photos of farm animals and activities Google Plus Business Pages not yet available – watch for these G+ Business Page will be a great tool for getting your farm more results in Google search engine Do not try to set up right now, Google is policing for non-personal entities being set up under personal accounts Your Own Website Your website is a virtual extension of you and your farm. It is there to serve content about your farm to attract people to it. Good customer service is a must. Reliability of site Interesting, informative content Prompt responsiveness to contacts Your “virtual representative” Your Own Website Decide upon a domain name – your farm name if possible, or a variation. Purchase through a registrar Registration available for a year or more Should be about $10 for one year (GoDaddy) Discounts offered for more than one year Your web developer will need access to your registrar account to tie your domain name to your web host service Domain name is like registering business name with state; web host is like the space you rent for actual business presence, just in virtual/figurative forms. Your Own Website Get your own domain name and a reliable, paid webhosting service. Get www.greatgoatfarm.com not greatgoatfarm.somefreehost.com Free or cheap webhosting have downfalls Bandwidth restrictions: “This user has exceeded their bandwidth for the month. Please try again next month” Advertising may cause problems on visitor's computers. May conflict with your message. Paid webhosting through a reliable hosting service is your best bet. Your Own Website Clean, professional looking design will attract and keep people browsing your website. Avoid flashing, moving gimmicks. These were amusing 15 years ago, but not considered good design today. Distracting – Internet ADD! Do you have the skills to DIY your site? If not, it may be your best bet to hire someone. If hiring someone, ask for references. Check out their past work. You need someone who can code and recognize good design. Your Own Website For easiest updating, a Content Management System is the best route. Once installed/setup, updates are done through your browser window in a word processor type environment. Very easy. WordPress, Joomla, Drupal are the major CMS offerings. WordPress most popular. Most web developers/designers can set this up for you and then you take over the day to day updates for the blog, pages, etc. Lots of free themes to choose from, which can be customized to your liking. Your Own Website What companies are these? Your Own Website Farm Logo – your brand identity Do you have one? You should. Incorporate into website design Use on business cards, letterhead, etc. Have these professionally printed, not printed on home printer and cut/punched out – need these to be professional looking. Keep business cards on you at all times to give out to potential customers or potential networking opportunities – most will visit website if you talk about it. Your Own Website Site should include Your location A bit of history about your farm What sort of farming practices you use (natural, sustainable, organic, traditional, etc.) Photos of your farm, your animals, etc. Contact methods (phone, email, etc) Best to use a contact form with a CAPTCHA rather than publishing an email address – this will minimize your Spam issues. Your Own Website Site should include What kind of products you offer (con't) Be judicious in how much information you share online regarding raw milk herdshare programs. Some information is best discussed directly with potential customers. Any animals you have for sale – lots of details Include link on classifieds sites to sale page or, if not allowed, then Embed link on classifieds sites in photos Your Own Website Site can include these extras Blog – gives your customers an extra feeling of connection/involvement with the farm Photos are especially effective to accompany the stories of daily farm life Customers are more interested in being connected to their food supply – this helps Customers likely to share links to your site with others Be prepared to interact with customers via comments, emails, etc. Your Own Website Site can include these extras (con't) Photo Album: include lots of photos of your animals Cookbook: give your customers ideas of what to do with your farm products, how you use those Links: to other sites you find interesting or informative regarding farming Shopping Cart: for products you can ship (soap, bath products, fiber, crafts, etc.) Test Marketing - float ideas for new products – get customer feedback Customer Email List Useful to communicate with herdshare owners, CSA customers, etc. ALWAYS use BCC (blind carbon copy) field when sending to a group – proper email etiquette If you want to include graphics & photos, design in word processor and then export as PDF, send the PDF file. If using graphics/photos, downsize them to JPG format Do's & Don't's Don't Forget Always include your website in a signature line when sending email regarding the farm. Make sure your website is listed on your business cards, letterhead, etc. Mention you have a website to your customers – both existing and new. Web-word-of-mouth. Check your email daily and respond to emails you receive promptly.