“Hidden in Plain Sight”
So what’s hidden in plain sight at your farm? Anne Anderson, a Texan rancher and speaker shared her insights:
- dog-training and quail hunting
- country clay shoots at $100 per person!
- photo clinics on wildlife and wildscapes. Find at least five different bird species they can photograph!
- bow-hunting competition and campouts.
- outfitter partnerships to provide accommodation
- Jeep Jambouree /Chevy Suburban riding down dry creek beds.
- “In the Country Weekend Workouts”
- Mini-camps where you learn to shoot skeet, tie fishing flies, do hunter safety or host a nature camp for science teachers. A writer’s getaway…do you offer peace and quiet?
- Special species birding, observing nesting areas, migratory birds, eagles , bluebirds.
- Mountain bike trails for young professionals or family groups.
Anderson is a marketing specialist and she encourages farm folks to identify a target audience and communicate with them. The return on investment (ROI) is what the customer will pay. People in Texas would pay $110US /day to ride bike trails. Birders have huge upscale income, and baby boomers want activities that take them back to their roots.
Folks who reside in the hot and humid US might enjoy the dry air and big skies of Redvers Saskatchewan! Young professionals are seeking adventure, exercise ,and fresh air fun. Families are looking for special things that they can do together.
- Look at your assets with rose coloured glasses. When I visit a farm, I encourage folks to appreciate the unique architecture, landscape, and wonderful sky canopies. Your rural lifestyle is unique! Many things we take for granted, city folks are willing to pay for!
- Remember the most receptive audiences while you look at your property.
- Take a friend along, someone from local chamber of commerce or economic development group.
- Research the internet to define target audiences and how they communicate through advertising. Check out retirement community newsletters, targeted publication features, travel and camera clubs, writer’s groups, outfitter associations, bike and auto clubs.
- Find a friend or partner from your target audience without compromising your criteria for a partnership alliance.
- Do the numbers. A rough financial performance plan with costs, what people will pay, and “make ready costs” for trail cutting, port-a-potty, and picnic areas. Make a business plan.
- Find a mentor and guests to try out your idea.
- DECIDE. Do you have the time , sufficient ROI and customer access?.
“Failure is due to unrealistic expectations and over zealous delivery of the opportunity, “says Anderson. She stresses the need to bridge the gap with sufficient market development and market access. You need to have a contingency plan for weather, and help people feel good about travel to your location.
Diversifying your family farm business may have minimal costs, if you can see what is hidden in plain sight on your farm. For practical helps, and great networking, plan to attend the Direct Farm Marketing Conference in Brandon, Manitoba February 25-26. Call Susan Nicoll at 204-376-3306 or http://www.gov.mb.ca/agriculture/news/direct.html.
I’ve attended several Direct Farm Marketing conferences, and always come away with new ways of looking at our business. With the farm income crunch, and the need to create fun on the farm, perhaps the best investment you can make on the farm is learning for you! Call me when you find a real pair of rose-coloured glasses!
Elaine Froese farms very close to the Whitewater Bird Refuge area. Boissevain now has an annual bird festival to celebrate this wonderful natural resource.