By Vina Medenilla

Marketing is a crucial element that serves as the backbone of your success when it comes to selling farm products and services. Regardless of how big or small your operations are, you have the ability to find consistent clients to help your business grow.

“When we talk about marketing, it’s always as important as your production,” said Carlo Sumaoang of Ragsak Family Farm on the sixth episode of AgriTalk 2020, a free webinar series presented by Agriculture Magazine and the Department of Agriculture – Agricultural Training Institute.

Read more about Carlo Sumaoang’s business here.

Sumaoang shared the fundamentals of marketing that agribusinesses must be aware of to properly connect with their customers.

Setting the mind of a farm entrepreneur
Above everything else, having the right mindset and attitude is essential as an entrepreneur. The mindset of a food producer is different from that of an agricultural entrepreneur, which is why aligning our minds with the principles of marketing is essential, says Sumaoang.

As entrepreneurs, one must always keep looking for new ways to organize and improve one’s farm for optimal growth. This can be achieved by trying new crops, cultivars, animals, and alternative technologies to increase productivity. When planting crops, Sumaoang emphasized the importance of having a sure market. This goes along with the right timing and ensuring that the crops’ harvest period would fall during the season that they would be offered at a high market price.

Entering the business side of agriculture also entails constant changes and uncertain situations that will push one to think outside the box. Sometimes, it may be easier to copy the practices of the farms around you, but it’s better to forge your own path because that way, you’ll learn better and you’ll get to offer something different.

What is marketing and why is it important?
Agro-entrepreneurship, as defined by Sumaoang, “refers to a business venture, typically small scale, that can be undertaken either on-farm or a service that can be used to support other businesses.” It is branching out opportunities that can be maximized in a certain product such as selling value-added products or offering services like training or pick and pay activity.

Marketing tends to be viewed as product selling alone, but product selling is just a small part of it. Marketing is about determining what the customer wants and needs and using this information to position how businesses can offer and present products better. It also pertains to the relationship between you and your customers and maintaining a positive bond with them as you improve your products and services.

Marketing Mix
There are four Ps (Product, Price, Place, Promotion) in marketing that are vital in meeting the demands of your target customers.

Product. This refers to an object, service, or a mixture of both, either tangible or intangible, that satisfies a need or desire of a specific set of customers.

Adding value to raw products. Producing crops and selling them as they are isn’t the only possible way to market them. Sumaoang said, “Value adding is a change in physical state or form of a product,” This can mean turning strawberries into jam or adding veggies into dishes. But aside from that, value-adding can also be in terms of packaging and the way you present the products. For instance, you can bundle up veggies of Pinakbet into one enticing packaging and sell them at a higher price. Through such tactics, you can earn more than what the raw product can provide.

Value-adding, as one would typically think, isn’t limited to processing raw goods. Add value to your raw products by coming up with creative marketing strategies that can be as simple as offering delivery and online services.

This will not just help you prevent spoilage and earn a higher profit, but it will also allow you to have a competitive edge that will differentiate you away from your competitors. This is also linked to the wider customer reach; Sumaoang shares that some consumers who eat strawberry jams do not necessarily eat strawberry fruits or vice versa. In this case, it shows that farmers can offer the same product in two different forms and yet it can tap different sets of buyers.

Branding. The presentation of products is one of the vital factors in influencing consumer buying behavior. Branding pertains to the overall physical appearance of your products and services, which may include the packaging, color, and font. The said elements may vary depending on your target buyers.

Place. This refers to where and how the products are bought. This is not limited to the location where the trade is happening as it also involves correct timing and placement. It has something to do with the time you place your products in the market and making sure that you sell them when they’re in demand and not when they’re off-season.

Promotion. This is how you present and communicate your products to potential consumers. This covers an extensive scope as this can be executed on different platforms either online and offline. For example, online advertising isn’t just about paying Facebook to reach more customers, but your brand’s digital logos, photos, caption, posts, and overall tone of your brand’s online presence also contributes to this element.

Unique Selling Proposition (USP). In promoting, it is important to distinguish your unique selling proposition. USP is highlighting the unique feature of your business that will determine how you want to be recognized by the public. This will show how your agribusiness is different from other competitors. For instance, your farm is the first farm in the city to grow a certain crop or animal. Use that distinct feature of your farm or products to create a mark in the minds of the public.

Price. This is the amount of money that customers are willing to pay for the product or service. Consider the status of your target market in setting a price for your products. Research your target market’s budget, priorities, and shopping behavior to come up with the right prices. You wouldn’t want to sell pricey items such as rare plant varieties in places where your target market can’t be found. It all boils down to effectively executing pricing strategies that will make your consumers buy the products. This is also where discounts and price changes come in.

In every business, competition is always present. To know the right selling price of a product, you must always be aware of who your competitors are. “Your pricing strategy should reflect your product’s positioning in the market and the resulting price should cover the cost per item and the profit margin. The amount should not project your business as timid or greedy,” Sumaoang expounds.

Marketing also involves studying and adjusting to the changing consumer preferences and trends for you to keep up with the market demand. Without knowledge about what your consumer desires and needs, it would be hard to offer and relate your products to them, especially if their priority is different from what you sell.

All these 4Ps are all necessary for successful marketing. With the right positioning, price, promotional strategies, and products, you can easily connect with your target market.

Watch the full AgriTalk episode here.

For more updates and episodes of AgriTalk 2020, visit Agriculture online.