How to Start Marketing Your CSA
Thinking of starting a Community Supported Agriculture program for your hydroponically-produced fresh greens and herbs? Great idea, but don’t get started too fast! With you in mind, Bright Agrotech has recently published a CSA Grower’s Packet. This is blog post three of four to highlight what a CSA grower needs to succeed. If you can’t wait, download the entire packet here.Now that you’re in production and have a CSA contract written, you need to find CSA shareholders. Where should you begin marketing your CSA?
Identify your ideal customer
Before beginning to market your CSA, identify who you will be marketing to. Ask:
- Who is your ideal customer?
- What do they want?
- When do they want it?
- How many customers are in your local area?
- What are they willing to pay?
- Will they allow you to charge a premium for your product?
- Where can you find them? (Where do they shop? Where do they hang out?)
After identifying the ideal customer, consider how you will address their needs. What seasonal options will you offer (season CSA, 6-month, 12-month), and why?
How will you provide value to the customer? (Value is likely attained through your local, super-fresh production using ZipGrow towers.)
Reaching your customers
You might find customers:
- at farmers’ markets
- at local health food stores
- through personal connections
- with advertisements
- through social media
Let your market research tell you which location will be the best.
When reaching out, consider which advertising outlets will most effectively target your customer.
Printed materials, such as posters, flyers, and handouts, work well. Here are some of our first printed materials for our own CSA.
Social media campaigns are great (just make sure that your target customers are actually on Facebook or Twitter!). Advertisements should explain what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, what crops you will be growing, what they can expect, and how to contact you.
Tip: Carry a few copies of the contract to provide more detailed information - you never know when you may find a potential customer.
Marketing the CSA is an active process that requires you to seek, find, and sell people on your product. Never rest!
Always be selling to both your current and potential customers.
Do not wait to sell the CSA when you need to have it sold; have a list of potential customers waiting and reading to go. A waiting list is never a bad thing.
Word of mouth marketing is a great tool, but be careful
Word of mouth is a great marketing tool, but it can also ruin your reputation. Satisfied customers will recommend the program to their friends, and your customer base will grow.
However, disappointment in your product is destructive. A poor reputation throughout the community will negatively affect your CSA and other sales.
Do everything you can to maintain high quality and customer satisfaction!
Remember: you are not selling to a traditional market
CSAs are not traditional markets. They are ideal markets because they’re relational and involve a small grower.
You can sell to relational markets better than anyone else.
Feel like you’re ready to start your own CSA?Check out our CSA Grower's Packet , which contains detailed best management practices, marketing strategies, customer management techniques, a financial planner, and workbook to help you create a successful CSA.