How much do you get paid per hour for what you do as a producer? What is your time worth? How much did you make selling your meat this past season? Are you targeting the best audience possible with your marketing? What is the best way to determine what your prices should be?
These were a few of the questions asked by Agriculture Marketing Specialist Matt LeRoux, CCE Tompkins Co., during a free “Profitable Meat Marketing” workshop, sponsored by the Center for Agricultural Development & Entrepreneurship (CADE), and coordinated by CADE Farm and Food Business Manager, Corey Luchetta.
More than 50 producers marketing a variety of meats attended the workshop, which addressed developing and implementing marketing strategies, price calculation using CCE’s Meat Price Calculator, and instruction to producers on how to sign up for the free MeatSuite website, helping themselves to free advertising and improving the ability to reach consumers seeking local meat in bulk.
LeRoux emphasizes preparing a marketing plan and breaking it down into steps.
“I’m a big advocate of marketing strategy,” remarked LeRoux. “It can be very short, but the idea is to develop a strategy to figure out which audience you’re going to direct all of your effort towards. At each choice ask, ‘why’.”
LeRoux explained that asking “Why” will focus your message and identity, make marketing labor more effective, differentiate your farm, attract target customers, allows you to serve your customers better, and helps determine the future of your farm.
“I really believe that marketing plans are worth the time.”
LeRoux pointed out that customers represent four “broad groups” to target: foodies; personal health advocates/ motivated by social causes; traditionalists — likely to be the most loyal customers; and ethnic/ religious/ culturally driven consumers.
“The more specialized your product is; the further you’ll have to go to sell it,” LeRoux remarked.
He explained how customer perception of you, your farm and your product, dictates how successful you will be with your marketing. Even your body language while talking to consumers will discourage — or encourage — them to buy from you.
LeRoux provided a ‘strategy development’ statement that will impact production and marketing decisions. It looks like this:
“Our farm raises (claims/product) for (target consumers) who (activity/ demographic behavior).”
LeRoux advises writing the statement out and filling in the blanks to use as a guide for yourself. Refer back to your written statement frequently.
Branding is one proven method that will increase your visibility. “Have a clear identity,” advises LeRoux.
He stated producers frequently forget to pay themselves an hourly wage and stressed including personal wages into the equation of what you’re profiting.
“Time is one factor to consider!”
Record keeping, documenting and tracking everything, methodically — even if only through “snapshot records” — will keep you focused on your market plan and profit.
LeRoux introduced and explained the Meat Price Calculator, which uses specific farm data to calculate and develop pricing for meat by both hanging weight and by specific cuts.
This calculator takes processing and marketing costs into account and permits users to build in their profit; modifying pricing of each cut until you reach your goal amount of profit.
LeRoux explained this helps producers decide on marketing channels for their goals and helps them formulate prices.
MeatSuite website, developed by Cornell Cooperative Extension Agriculture Educators, focuses on helping producers increase “freezer trade,” which involves sale of whole, halves, quarters, and bulk bundles of meat.
“Freezer trade is the sweet spot in marketing channels,” emphasized LeRoux, stating the biggest profit comes with freezer trade.
Farms sign up on the MeatSuite site and are able to post photos and descriptions of their farm and their meat for consumers to access.
Farms are listed by neighborhood and species of meat.
Presently only 22 counties, including 215 farms, are utilizing this free marketing tool.
Participating farms are advertising beef, pork, lamb and chicken.
“We’re trying to be really consumer friendly,” LeRoux said of the site.
LeRoux remarked that this website was made possible through a NE Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Partnership Grant.
To add your farm or see what is available go to http://meatsuite.com/.
Contact LaRoux at MNL28@cornell.edu for more information.
CADE’s Corey Luchetta remarked that the meat-marketing workshop had an excellent turnout.
“The event was a huge success,” remarked Luchetta. “This was for the farmers and meat producers. CADE is here to help anyone who may need it, no matter what. This event shows that there are still farmers in the area willing to come out and learn how to grow their business.”
Luchetta said this workshop was a segment of CADE’s Farm and Food Business Incubator (FFBI) program, which provides business training and value-added product development for new and existing farms.
More information may be found at www.cadefarms.org or contact Corey Luchetta at 607-433-2545.