With all of that in mind I read this chapter with quite a bit of interest and it didn't disappoint. I won't go as far as saying that the chapter contained a bunch of new knowledge that I hadn't heard of or thought about before, but Mr. Macher presented the information in a very readable and understandable way.
One of the things that really struck home with me were his, "Eight Steps to Identifying the Market". Nothing in those eight steps is very revolutionary, but sometimes it is good to look at a task with a process and goals in mind. I believe that is especially true when it comes to something that you are unfamiliar with or you are not quite certain that you can even do well. For most farmers marketing is one of those things. Many people decide to farm because they love the solitude, or the open spaces, or even the ability to be alone and their own boss. But, if you want to have a profitable small scale farm you need to get out there and market ... to people!
Here is a very brief overview of his eight steps:
- Get maps of your area.
- Find your self and draw circles with a radius of 25, 50, and 100 miles
- Figure out how many people live within those circles and realize that most customers will come from inside the 50 mile circle. (This is basically two of the steps combined into one)
- Research what other alternative or small-scale farms are in the area, and what they are selling.
- Scope out the local grocery stores in some of the larger areas. What do they carry, can they purchase stuff local?
- Now that you have gathered all of that information go over it with a fine tooth comb. What crops or livestock are missing? Is there anything that is being brought into the area because of high demand that you could produce?
- Finally, "find out who your customers are". Are there ethnic groups, a population of people concerned about organic, or even people that are just looking for stuff the way it used to be (Sugar Creek Farm blog just mentioned that 2/17).
Following these steps won't help you market your farms meat or produce, but it will help you choose things that are in demand which makes marketing easier. Also, this isn't in the book, but don't forget to remember your passions. You will find marketing much easier if you are passionate about what you are trying to market!
The rest of the article is full of information and real-life stories about niche markets, value added stuff, pricing, advertising, and even where or how to sell your products. It's a pretty good chapter, and the deeper I get into this book I think it is a great practical guide to making the small farm pay. It won't give you the passion of a Joel Salatin or Gene Logsdon book. It may not give you all the nuts and bolts like a Carol Ekarius or Allan Nation book. But, it is full of down to earth steps, principles, and advice.