Grow Your Offline Business by Sowing Seeds Online
Many local businesses tend to ignore the online aspect of their business. It’s understandable.For gardeners, growers, farmers and nature lovers, being tethered to technology is like dealing with bad bugs or invasive weeds. It’s a chore.
But here’s the thing:
If you tend your virtual garden, your offline business will grow.
And no, we don’t mean “Farmville”! We’re talking real live farming and building a business around that.
Building your website and Facebook page for business is like cultivating relationships in town and at the Farmer’s Markets and other markets where you sell. If you’re the one who creates a following of fans and followers online, your offline business will reap the benefits.
Many small business owners today, still don’t bother with building their online presence. They don’t know how, or don’t have time.
Positive Impact of Social Media
For today’s market growers, there’s much to be gained by setting out a shingle where your customers hang out online.
If you’re at the Farmer’s Market each week, you can connect with prospective and regular customers in between. Let them know what you’re growing and about your weekly specials. Sharing beautiful garden photos and scrumptious recipes on your Facebook page is bound to get some folks to head to the market that day, even if they hadn’t already planned to. Those who were already planning a trip to the market will have you in mind and likely make a bee-line for your stand.
But that’s not all. Once they get used to looking for your posts online, they’ll also be much more inclined to put your market stand as one they’ll be sure to visit. And… the more they connect with you and your brand… farm… produce… products, the more they’ll share it with their friends and family, and your tribe will grow.
There’s a saying in the marketing world that we all like to do business with people we know, like and trust. Well, same thing for your customers, and the more familiar they become with you and your farm’s story, the more connected and loyal they’ll feel with you and your brand.
Facebook is the virtual marketplace for growers.
You can build your Facebook presence even if you just have a vegetable stand in your front yard. Once again, hundreds and even thousands of people—depending on the population density of your neighborhood—pass your way. Many of those people are on Facebook most every day. They may not see your sign or know what you’re going to sell, but if they see it posted on Facebook first, they’re much more likely to put your stand on their route home.
Not only does building your business’s Facebook page let you communicate with your customers, it lets them communicate with you! Let’s say you’re thinking about whether to try growing and selling herbs. You can poll your audience on Facebook and ask who’s interested in that.
You might have been thinking they’d buy the fresh cut herbs from you, but they tell you they want to buy herb plants. That’s free and valuable market data.
You can ask them to tell you the things they’d really like to see you grow as well, and if it’s a fit, you can grow that too. Just imagine the loyalty you will develop in your customer base when they realize that you’re not only connecting with them on Facebook and at the market, but that you’re even willing to grow their favorites if you can.
Facebook is the one we most often recommend for growers, so that’s the one we’re focusing on in this article. However, similar benefits and strategies could be used for some of the other social media resources as well, such as Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter. LinkedIn could be a resource for connecting with larger farm businesses, but we generally favor the Facebook platform for small businesses and growers.
Business Benefits of Facebook
Facebook is an amazing global gathering place and marketplace where businesses can set up shop for free.
Many people complain about how Facebook constricts business exposure. One of the reasons is because a Facebook business page’s organic posts only reach an average 2.5% of your Facebook audience.
That means that if you have 1,000 fans (likes) on your Facebook page and you publish a post about your market special for the day, only approximately 25 of your fans might see it.
But that’s free. It didn’t cost you anything to reach those 25 people. It doesn’t cost anything other than your time, to create and populate a Facebook page with information and photos to please your audience.
So it’s very fair that Facebook requires us to pay to play bigger. It’s fair that our timelines and scrolls are sometimes interrupted by ads and sponsored posts. Facebook is a business, not a non-profit. They have to pay bills just like we do.
Ads in exchange for free is the familiar model. TV, radio, internet websites with all those annoying popups and worse, those spammy clickbait ads that gross you out or shock you. All of those are the price the reader pays to access that information for free. It’s not punishment, though certainly sometimes is can seem that way. It’s survival. Those sites may not survive if they don’t have advertisers paying the bills for writers to bring you that information for free.
The alternate to that is also familiar: the paid subscription model. Like for free TV and movie channels, the price is commercials. To have the peace of uninterrupted focus on the purpose of your visit to the site, the price is a subscription of membership.
The Good News About Facebook Advertising and Why You Should Consider it
The fastest way to grow your Facebook page and—subsequently—your business, is to advertise on Facebook. If you’re like many small business owners, spending money on advertising is not in your budget, excepting perhaps, the occasional sponsoring of little league, church or civic events. To many small business owners, advertising feels like throwing money away because it’s hard to measure the results.
With social media, especially Facebook advertising, that’s no longer true. You can often see the exact results of your ads, how much it cost you, how many impressions, click, likes, etc., and you can correlate that with the revenue gained.
Facebook advertising is measurable.
You can grow your Facebook page starting at just a dollar a day. You can also run a market special or feature for as little as $1 a day. If just one person visited your booth and bought from you because of that, that ad would easily be paid for with just that one purchase.
For growers and small businesses, Facebook provides an amazing opportunity to be in regular contact with your customers for free or a tiny pay-to-play fee.
So grow your Facebook page to grow your tribe. Grow your tribe to grow your business.
For more on how to create and grow your own Facebook page for business, here’s an article with free video training.
For more on the importance of growing your own tribe, you may enjoy this article.
For business ideas for growing for profit, you may also enjoy this article.