"What kind of online promotion for the farmer? Go to the market to trade!" What other misconceptions did the new farmer have to cope with in order to earn half a million rubles for the season with the help of social networks?
A few years ago, my husband and I moved to permanently relocate to the village, and, like many village downshifters, we wanted to acquire a dozen chickens for the beginning. They would fit perfectly into the pastoral picture of country life - they would walk on a green lawn, regularly providing us with fresh eggs for breakfast.Why did the simple desire to acquire poultry grow into a full-fledged business? It's simple - in this niche was a real "collective farm" and I wanted to change it.
Familiarity with the business "country style"
When we thought about buying birds, we immediately went through the Internet, but there were no ads for Avito or VKontakte for the sale of poultry in our and neighboring districts. They interviewed local residents - everyone just shrugged their shoulders: they did not know where and how to find chickens.
Here in the newspaper I saw an ad that nobody remembered. Probably, it became familiar and they simply did not pay attention to it.
My husband called and tried to clarify what was coming up, but they refused to answer him on the phone, they said - come to the meeting place and buy what is.
We rushed to the district center, so that at the appointed time we would take ten pullets at a discount, and also get a rooster as a gift. With a slight delay, a car drove up with a bunch of tortured chickens in cramped cages. Immediately from everywhere, several active grandmothers appeared with baskets and boxes, pushed us aside so that we did not interfere with questions. Only half an hour was allotted for trade. We spent them in the queue and in the raids on the nearby shops in search of a suitable box.
As a result, we were able to buy only 4 elderly hens for the prepared money. Instead of young, healthy birds, age-old one and a half year-old chickens from the poultry factory were offered at a price 3 times higher than in the ad. One of them died the same day. The others had long been depressed, shed, did not eat anything, and ran poorly until their natural death the following year.
According to other buyers, this is the norm. But we, spoiled by city life, knew that it could be different and business could be different.
Farm with "as in the city" service
A couple of years later, when we were ready to start our own business in the village, that story still did not let go. We decided that for success we must act differently. They became farmers: they bought incubators, went to the suppliers of hatching eggs, created conditions for raising young stock, and began to get acquainted with potential customers.
They mirrored competitors like this:
- Online presence. They decided to search for their clients in social networks and tell about a live “product” by a non-familiar monotonous advertisement in the newspaper, namely posts in the local Internet community. The first messages appeared in their own group and in public announcements.
- Full consultation by phone, online and in person. They answered any questions at any time, so that the client made an informed decision and was not disappointed after the purchase: it’s better to refuse right away, than to be dissatisfied after the transaction due to a lack of information about the selected "product".
- Reliable pricing information. The words in the price list never diverged from the case, the price increase was reported in advance. We already gave discounts on the fact - for the volume or simply out of sympathy for the customer, but they were not used to lure customers.
- Quality goods. Sale of young stock, which we personally grew from scratch, and not waste material from the poultry farm. Other sellers were just dealers and brought someone else's "goods", and we could report on each day of the chicken's life - from the moment the eggs were laid in the incubator.
- Wide selection. The product line includes several breeds of chickens, geese, ducks, turkeys, guinea fowls, quails, rabbits, piglets, so that the buyer can choose the best option for their farm, and not take what is.
- Free additional service. Home delivery at a convenient time, including in the neighboring area or in a remote village. No problems with the "packaging" - we ourselves solved the issue with boxes for transportation. Habitual food "with you" - for a gradual change in diet. After-sales veterinary care and advice on the content.
- Guarantees. Exchange of problem birds or refund. Sometimes, when selling small chickens of different breeds, their sex was incorrectly determined, and the client grew a rooster instead of a chicken, it was necessary to change it with jokes and jokes. Now we just choose autosex breeds, where everything is already clear at the age of day.
- Related products. They have always offered buyers additional food, feeders, drinkers, vitamins - all that is difficult to find in ordinary general stores, but that is sold in special shops in the city, where nobody needs it. We buy ourselves and "in reserve" in order to transfer to our customers without extra charge.
To buy a couple of chickens, we just need to call and arrange delivery time. We made a convenient route in order to deliver orders with minimal expenses even to remote villages. Sophisticated logistics made it possible not to spend much money on gasoline, combining several deliveries and organizing a "groupage cargo". Buyers had to wait no more than 1-3 days and they received the ordered directly "before the gate".
All this has become a competitive advantage. This approach can be applied in any other business, but in our province did not. All businessmen are accustomed to work "in the collective farm", with the confidence that you can offer anything and whatever you like - they will still buy. We began to break this system.
Who are our customers
To begin with, we had to separate two different areas of business: the trade in "live goods" and the sale of farm products.
Ecofarm usually has everything in a pile. Customers are invited with the children: to pat the goats, and to taste the cutlets right there. On the site are mixed photos of cute chickens and their plucked carcasses, minced pork and piglets in the mud. Everything is colorful, beautiful, but such a flow may adversely affect sales.
It is difficult to bypass the sharp corners and overcome the reluctance to know where the food comes from. It is easier for a modern city dweller to take a ready-made patty in a supermarket than to imagine how a pretty pig turns into an advertising farm.The sales area should be sharpened for a specific target audience and the content should meet its expectations.
Our statistics say that customers for the purchase of animals and frozen dumplings are different customers:
- Chickens and rabbits for breeding are bought by a villager aged 40+ who is ready to bother about the housework in order to save money on trips to the store, growing their own “all their own” for children and grandchildren. Moreover, adult children just help them find the necessary information on the Web, but the decision on the deal is exclusively for them - those who go to the hut and stop the horse.
- Fresh quail eggs and a rack of lamb are usually acquired by a city dweller 30+ with a well-paid job who cares about the health and well-being of their loved ones, and therefore chooses village products rather than buying food in the store.
We will not mix these two categories of clients. It is not necessary for a meat buyer to know what a piglet looked like during its life and how fluffy a rabbit was before getting into a stew. The future owner of the birds does not need information about the cost of duck carcasses for Christmas - she will have her own duck on the table.
What content is important in the village
We printed two versions of business cards, made two groups on VKontakte, worked with them in test mode, collecting statistics, and now we are developing two promotion strategies for each of the areas.
The choice of the site and the preparation of a content plan are tied to the needs of the target audience:
- So, for animal buyers, we plan to keep a blog with recommendations (our own practical cases and expert advice) on growing, keeping, feeding, and treating. In the VKontakte group will be posted announcements of these materials and promotional posts directly with information about the "live product".
- For farm products customers, you will need to create a Facebook office. A farm page, where we will talk more about products from the village, their preparation, delivery, preparation, so that the buyer understands what the quality of this product is and how exactly we care about the service.
The content plan is drawn up and taking into account the habits of Central Asia. In rural areas, mobile devices for Internet access are used actively, regardless of age. But you don’t read much in the phone, so conciseness and content is important for such visitors. They need to see a promotional post and immediately get all the necessary information, and not seek answers to questions on other resources. They enter the group in order not to miss the announcements of upcoming sales.
Urban housewives and businessmen visit the Internet more often from a computer than from a mobile, they can read the tape in social networks during the day or at lunchtime and in the evening after work. Joining the group, they expect comprehensive information about the products: what we offer, how to cook, where to buy, what are useful. And only when they are convinced of their quality, they will make an order.
Why advice SMM gurus were useless in the village
Manuals to promote corporate pages on social networks contain a standard list of basic tips:
- publish as many posts as possible - once a week, and preferably once a day, if possible - and 3-5 daily;
- entertain and make people laugh so that they make a repost;
- hold contests to increase the number of subscribers;
- give discounts and bonuses.
That's just apply it to our farm was not so easy.
Our task is not to catch the participants in the group for mass, but to increase the loyalty of existing customers, to start word of mouth so that people share information about the farm with their friends, save useful posts on the wall and turn to us as experts.It is important to build credibility in a particular niche, and not just become ridiculous and sweet for everyone.
We appreciate not only our time, but also the time of our clients - in the summer, villagers have so much trouble, there is something to do instead of sifting through the many empty posts in the tape that do not carry useful information.
It is unlikely that entertainment posts will bring us many potential buyers, so the focus is on useful publications, and in season on promotional posts. And we don’t have time to generate entertainment content, especially now, in the off-season, in order to “warm up” the market. But when mass sales begin, it will be completely not up to funny pictures.
Discounts went unnoticed, even if the benefit was obvious and information about it was posted everywhere. Customers came at any other time, but during the period of all kinds of promotions there was no increase in activity. There were as many customers as always, and we received less income, as we were given a discount.See also: 70 SMM articles that will make you a pro
Therefore, we decided not to advertise the readiness to reduce the price, but simply to do it when we deem it necessary. So we regularly rejoice our loyal customers with additional bonuses, but we never promise these bonuses in promotional posts. This is a pleasant surprise when buying.
They tried to hold a contest, but the results were not pleased - the “freeloaders” came running into the group, some of which are now hanging dead, and some of them left gradually after the end of the competition.
If the group for the sale of animals without competition attendance was constant throughout the year, then in the "grocery" is clearly a decline in interest after the end of the competition.
In reality, farm growth is not limited at all by a shortage of customers, but by the volume of production that we can offer them. So now we are working on quality, not quantity. This also concerns the content - we will write only about the useful and interesting, and not about everything for the sake of a tick in the content grid.
How many customers led the farmer to the Internet
Now about the results. Compared to any website or online store, the attendance of our communities is scanty, the coverage is small. And there are not so many participants in both groups. But a very large percentage of "their" target visitors.What does any small business need? Customers who go and buy, and not likes, repost, crowded in comments.
Of the 170 people in the group selling animals, 148 people made a purchase from us in 2016, leaving an application or pre-order in a personal. Conversion from the subscriber group to the buyer was 87%. In addition, there were about 50 other clients who applied personally for a particular bird.
The situation is worse with the sales group for village products - 110 participants, but only 22 people became buyers, half of them were permanent. Participation in offline events led to a couple of dozen more clients.
We estimate that the Internet has led to us two thirds of customers, if not more. Some did not even join the group, but they definitely mentioned when they called that "We looked at the photos here on VKontakte and read the announcement - we want to order."
Thanks to the communication in VKontakte, we have preserved the base of all clients - current and potential, it is possible to analyze their requests and interests, and if necessary - directly contact them. Such an appeal will not resemble SMS spam and a promotional post can be made addressable and individual.
For the season - from the end of February to June - the turnover of the farm exceeded half a million rubles. It all started with a few announcements in local public.
Most buyers in the province, it is important to trust the seller. They saw us at fairs with our birds, took a business card, went to a VC group, watched photos, read announcements, found out that we had a farm nearby, and only after such a complex "treatment" they were happy to purchase.
We still have difficulties with the “urban” clients, but we are trying to find a common language and points of contact.In general, the indicators are encouraging. We don’t have to spend time creating non-core content that doesn’t work, to interact with an audience that doesn’t buy.
If it were not for the online representation in social networks, it is unlikely that all these people would learn about our farm, who today have become our regular customers and are already making orders for the next season.
What from our experience will be useful for you?
In any business, the following scheme of work that we applied when starting the farm will work:
- Identify the real needs of potential customers.
- Doing the chosen business well, not for the sake of a one-time profit
- Spend time on feedback, chat and gather useful information.
- To use non-obvious platforms for promotion - even the village has already had the Internet for a long time - and its group in social networks will not be superfluous for business in rural areas.
- Build your community to grow potential customers.
- Demonstrate expertise in a niche, give advice, help with problem solving.
- Look for proposals and solutions that are of interest to Central Asia, check the recommendations of experts in practice, but act taking into account the expectations of "their" clients.
Consider me a cap? But why are you still running your business "collectively"? Developing is easy - think about the customer and the product.