When are farmers and small rural business owners going to join the age of technology and start marketing on the internet? Today I came across a great website called Free Range Review, I was so excited and couldn’t wait to see how many of my farming and rural neighbours were listed.
If I cycle from our farm for ten minutes I can find free range eggs, potatoes, veg, homemade cakes, great sausages, jams, fresh seafood, to name but a few, so surely some of my neighbours would have listed themselves on such websites?
On the home page you just type in your post code and up pops a list of what they have found in your area. The list included “Other – Free range or Organic Chicken – Farmers’ Market – Meat Box Scheme – Bakery – Local Food Network / GroupFish /Seafood shopFarm ShopDairy shopFoodie ShopRestaurant – Farm Produce – Foodie Pub.
I then scrolled down to see the map, which includes little tags to show the business location. What a brilliant resource, you simply click on the tag and up pops the name address and telephone number of the business, you can click a link to find the company profile and even get directions. What more could any business want than to get that amount of information across to potential customers in just a few mouse clicks?
How very disappointing though, not even my local towns farmers market was listed. Everything was a minimum of an hours drive from me and all located in towns.
This made me think about how farming communities are failing to keep pace with technology. The internet is still seen as a ‘new fangled thing’ that the kids play with and so many farms and rural business owners are missing an excellent marketing opportunity.
Have we become so reliant on marts and word of mouth that we do not feel the need to market our business or are we just so wealthy we do not need the extra customers? I very much doubt that either are true, we are just failing to take advantage of such websites.
I see the Tesco delivery van zipping around our lanes every week, so we are ordering our groceries from them over the internet but still not seeing it as a useful tool for our own business. I know many farmers that will, albeit reluctantly, log on to the net when they need to order a new ear tag or find a spare part for the tractor but it would never occur to them to use the net to market themselves.
There are many sites like Free Range Review and very few people now use the yellow pages, with more and more people searching for the things they need and want on the internet.
I accept that time is precious on a farm, particularly during spring but an hour a week would see your produce in front of more customers than you could imagine. Get the kids involved searching for sites to leave your details on, most are free (including Free Range Review).
If you are a farmer and reading this then you do use the internet but are you using it to just search or to market your own business? Come on farmers it’s 2008 and you can’t avoid the internet forever.