Using seasonal events / holidays to promote your farm or farm products

  Hort Snacks - December 2016
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 Holidays are a central part of the lives of most people, with many family traditions and activities moulded around the different seasons and the holidays that are a part of them. Holidays would include Christmas, New Year’s Eve, Valentine’s Day, Canada Day / July 1st, Halloween, Thanksgiving and a few more (including some culturally specific ones). Each holiday comes readymade with one, two or more themes built in and many images and symbols that can be picked up in your farm operation. As agricultural producers, holidays represent excellent opportunities for you to capture the attention of your customers, and give you a chance to promote your farm and your farm’s products.

The key to effectively using these events is to find the holiday themes that interest your customers and then connect them to your farm and what you have to offer. It should be noted that not every operation is geared towards pairing with certain holidays, due to season length, product offering, etc. And that is ok. But there are some easy connections that you might want to think about taking advantage of.

Consider the following examples of potential options for promoting your farm.

On-Farm Themed Events
Depending on your farm set-up, you may or may not be in a position to offer too many of the winter-centric celebrations. If you have an on-farm store or on-farm facilities, you might consider offering festive holiday dinners or luncheons. In the summertime, you could offer BBQs or picnics to go with other activities. You might integrate a themed activity or two into the on-farm activities that you host or already specialize in. It is important to highlight what you have on your farm. If you have livestock, you might have a Nativity scene at Christmas time. For Christmas / Valentines / New Years Eve consider trying snow or bale mazes, hay rides or photography. For Easter, maybe try Easter egg hunts or an Easter petting zoo (chicks, bunnies, etc.). Create events with the intent of having them repeat yearly, so people know to look for them after the initial offering.

On-Farm Decoration / Promotion
You can easily create displays that match or tie into the seasons and the holidays. The degree or amount of effort that you go to will depend on what you like and what you have to offer. You can offer holiday specific promotions and featured products to help draw people in.

Product Offerings
It is relatively simple to integrate products or crafts from your farm (or partner with neighbours) into the festivities. If you’d prefer not to have people on the farm, you can connect or partner with a caterer or a neighbouring farm, with your product(s) featured into the event (e.g. your great root vegetables or your delicious frozen fruit).

If you create any sort of value-added products on your farm, you have the opportunity to offer those products as gift ideas throughout the season. By decorating them slightly differently (colour, packaging, etc.), you can use a similar product for a range of holidays. For example, jams or jellies could be promoted anytime. Or, perhaps you could have holiday specific products (spiced ciders or specially flavoured sauces for certain menu items, etc.). At any time, there is the chance to help your customers know how to use your edible products, by providing recipes (whether as a handout, a decorative card or in a recipe book).

If you want, consider growing or creating a product specifically for individual holidays. Greenhouse producers (of ornamental crops, mainly) have the ability to do this easily, producing specialty flowers (e.g. lilies, poinsettias) or arrangements (e.g. baskets, etc.). Vegetable growers can produce specialty squash or gourds or certain varieties of vegetables for use in specialty foods.

Some of the best things that you do can be very simple and quite small. It doesn’t have to be a massive endeavor. Maybe consider trying out a one-time product offering at a winter market, that links back to your regular season stuff.

Bottom Line
Use the holidays to draw in customers (and their friends and families) or remind them that you are there and that you have something (or even MANY things) to offer. Your creativity will stick in their minds. As a precaution, remember to be safe (for you, your employees and your customers) and to make sure that whatever you offer (event, products, etc.); the returns are greater than the costs.

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For more information about the content of this document, contact Robert Spencer.
This information published to the web on November 30, 2016.