Jamie Tiralla presented a talked titled Marketing on a Baling Twine Budget at the Small Farms Conference held Nov. 2 and 3 in Princess Anne, Maryland.

PRINCESS ANNE, Md. — Developing a marketing plan which sets goals, measures success and adapts to changing needs doesn’t have to cost a fortune, according to Jamie Tiralla of AllAgMedia.com.

“If you don’t have a plan, you’re just flying by the seat of your pants,” she told her audience at the 15th annual Small Farms Conference held Nov. 2-3 at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore.

Tiralla’s talk was entitled “Marketing on a Baling Twine Budget.”

She told farmers that developing a marketing plan may be as important as planting or harvesting their crops. She offered some common sense tips for what may sometimes be an uncomfortable topic.

“The job of a farmer doesn’t end in the field. To have a successful agricultural business, one needs a well-thought-out marketing strategy,” she said in the synopsis of her presentation.

Farmers should use what is comfortable for them so that they will continue their marketing.

“Stick to the one you like the best,” Tiralla said.

Then, farmers can branch out into podcasts, blogs, videos or whatever else they want to use to help their farm.

Blogs or podcast can be as simple as listening to customers and remembering what questions they ask you. “Why are some eggs brown and other eggs blue?” is a question she regularly hears.

So, that’s a perfect subject for a blog, she said.

“Don’t be afraid to experiment with video. It’s not movie quality. If it’s not perfect, you know what, it doesn’t matter,” she said.

She suggested that videos should be relatively short in duration. It might also be good to shoot video throughout the season. That allows farmers to entice their customers with videos of green fields and juicy peaches when there is nothing in the fields except ice and bare ground.

Apps can help an amateur with everything from video editing to writing copy, she said. Many are free or low cost and many tools like social media have built in tools or analytics to measure how effective they have been.

Apps like Canva or Snapseed can help provide graphic design templates or photo editing skills. Others can help users write copy. Tools can help, but famers want to have their own voice and their own style, she said.

“There are two billion apps out there,” she said. “Use them.”

While social media is important, she said farmers shouldn’t forget about old-fashioned press releases or contacts with their local newspaper.

“Make those contacts. Journalists want to tell good stories,” she said.

Tiralla urged her audience not to get frustrated if they don’t see immediate results. “Success is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm,” she said.

She suggested farmers consider the following possible choices: advertising, public relations, personal selling, direct marketing and sales promotion.

Tiralla advised the audience to “have specific goals, be measurable, be achievable.”

That can also mean evaluating strengths and weaknesses. Know why customers should want your crop because knowing your strengths means you can make the most of them, she said. Are the tomatoes fresher and tastier? Are they organic? Are they available sooner? Are they heirloom tomatoes?

She said farmers need to be able to measure what worked and what did not work for them.

“Make a plan. Map it out. Measure your results,” she said. “I’m not advertising in Philadelphia, it is not going to help. Assess what worked and what did not.”

Farmers need to plan ahead and wet the appetite of their customers. Maybe that means giving out recipes or coupons or letting them know what’s growing, she said.

“By the time you have tomatoes, they need to want tomatoes so badly that you are sold out every day,” she said.

You can reach Tiralla at AllAgMedia.com.

Michael Short is a freelance writer in Delaware. He can be reached at michaelshort1@verizon.net or 302-382-3547.