|Tacopocalypse's Market Set-Up|
Lately though I have been thinking about farm diversification when it comes to marketing as well. Currently we sell whole/half hogs directly to customers, at the Downtown Des Moines Farmers Market, individual cuts through pick-up locations, and from time-to-time online through the Iowa Food Coop. The one thing that I have stayed away from is wholesale to stores or restaurants. Part of the reason that I've stayed away from that is that I've always been adamant about keeping all of the sales dollars in my pocket. But, the other reason is that I just haven't found the right fit.
In some ways my thinking has changed though as I think about adding diversification to the marketing. One of the benefits of having a number of enterprises is that if one has a slow year than the others can help keep things going. In some ways the same could be said about a diverse number of marketing outlets. Even though we may be losing some sales dollars by selling to a store or restaurant there can be some benefits.
A couple things that come to my mind right away are the ability to have our product in front of a different set of faces and with extra sales comes the need to scale up a bit which may help out in our other marketing efforts. It has been my experience that by having our products available to more people it benefits all of the other marketing examples. For example we have had customers who purchase from us online through the Iowa Food Coop begin purchasing whole and half hogs from us and sometimes even continuing purchasing select individual cuts. Plus, there are things we could add to the operation if we had more sales that would help in every aspect of certain enterprises.
With all of that in mind I'm beginning to explore some opportunities and moving forward with at least one "strategic relationship" (that seems like a good phrase). There have been chefs in the past interested in working with us on our woodlot raised heritage pork, but in each case it just wasn't something that would work out on the farms end. Now we've found a partner in Tacopocalypse that seems like it is going to work with us on many levels. They are a very popular vendor at the same market we attend (we are across the street from each other) and they also sell at two locations along with the catering side of the business. The thing that is going to make it work this time is that they are willing to use so much of the hog and not leave us stuck with other things to sell. But, more on Tacopacalypse later ...
All of this of course is part of the bigger puzzle that is the farm. It's our job to make sure that all of the pieces fit together as they should and nothing is left with a ragged edge. I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences with various marketing opportunities if you have any!