Thoughts on the FFA CDE - Ag. Marketing Plan -- 4 of 5 "Strategies and Action Plan"

September 18, 2015

Strategies and Action Plan

With the first 3 sections under your belt.  You should now brainstorm every possible idea you can come up with, read about, or seen online.  Take each idea and judge them against everything you've learned in the 3 earlier sections.  Only seriously consider the ideas that match all your criteria.  Meaning, don't decide your best idea is a drive through holiday lights display that your target market will enjoy, BUT your survey reveals young parents don't have cars and their small children are in bed before you even turn on the Christmas lights at dusk.  Don't conduct a billboard campaign if your target market can't remember the last billboard they saw or when they ride in a car they are on a smartphone or tablet the whole time, whether they are a passenger or the driver.  Yikes!, sad but it's true.


The product is still high quality, you cut Christmas Trees. You may see the "Tree Farm Experience" is now the product. That's fine. Make me believe it.


A market competitive price.  Do your research and find out what everyone sells trees for and what your target market is willing to pay for a fresh cut/not so dry it will burn your house down, needles won't fall off, and looks awesome on a Christmas card tree.  Ask, ask, ask.


You want your target market to come and cut down a tree.  The place needs to be at the Tree Farm. 


Your survey reveals your target market wants pictures for the grandparents.  Sometimes the grandparents even want to help get the tree (probably pay for it too).  So your target market wants an experience, and not just "go pick up a tree".  So your group decides to play up that emotion.  A local horse barn has a pair of draft horses who go to shows during the summer but aren't busy during the holidays except for a parade here and there.  They agree on a fixed price for the 4 weekends between Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.  From noon until dusk on Saturday and Sunday (optimum tree cutting times for your target market) families can come in, walk around and select a tree, cut it down, and then have the carriage pull them and their tree back to the front for packaging up.  There's an area to take pictures and pet the horses.  The horses will have sleigh bells and there's another area that will be a winter wonderland of Christmas Trees decorated and arranged by local shops, civic groups, and schools. 

You believe the cost for the winter wonderland and hiring the horses for 4 weekends will be paid for by the end of the first weekend.  You know that on average 100 trees are cut per day and 250 per weekend day during the holiday season.  The tree farm makes $11 profit on the sale of every tree.  The publicity alone takes your weekday average up to 125 trees and weekend day to 400.  So you estimate an additional $3,300 in profits by the end of the first weekend (extra 150 trees per day x $11 x 2).  You also figured the worst case scenario: if these daily cut averages continue the farm does have enough quality trees to last all the way until Christmas Eve. But you think your strategy will maintain an extra 25 - 30 trees cut daily and 100 per weekend day compared to previous seasons.


Your survey and research reveals that, indeed, your target market doesn't read billboards and doesn't even subscribe to the local newspaper.  They listen to the major radio stations from the city 1 hour away and doesn't really watch that much TV.  Now I hear everyone scream "SOCIAL MEDIA"! Calm down and don't start firing off 18,000 tweets and Facebook posts.  That strategy won't work to get a date and it won't work here. 

Positioning your marketing strategy is about getting the right message in front of the right people at the right time.  Having local civic groups and shops come and decorate trees for the winter wonderland will get the word out on its own.  Those are the pictures that need to pop up on Facebook and Twitter.  On Pinterest, select people to follow based on whomever you can find within a 30 - 45 mile range of the tree farm.  Pin photos that describe how to make wreaths from extra tree trimmings, different ways to decorate a tree, tips on how to extend the life of a Christmas tree, and photo examples of kids, horses, and Christmas trees.  Have a Twitter and Facebook account and friend every local you can find and their friends.  Not everybody and their brother, Steve from New York isn't driving 14 hours to your tree farm.  If he friends you great, but don't tag for the sake of tagging.  Be targeted and specific. 

Tag the businesses and Civic groups in the pictures and post a single photo once or twice a day, but no more than 3.  We are tempting people not beating them over the head.  We want the Tree Farm to be on their mind from early November until Thanksgiving.  Add a picture or two of the draft horses being groomed and washed, shining up the carriage, or polishing up the leather.  Remember it's about the experience and these are images that help them anticipate the experience.  15 days from Thanksgiving officially unveil the worst kept secret in town.  Again 5 days out have similar formal post but continue with very nostalgic shots that center around family, Christmas, and the tree cutting experience. 

Then wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving and tell them the horses are waiting to see them.  For everyday during the holiday season Tweet, Post, and Pin neat and interesting shots that are meaningful for that platform.  Again, nobody on Pinterest cares that Steve did drive 14 hours to your farm, but his family on Facebook that just moved in town does.  Plus 45 photos in someone's newsfeed isn't advertising, it's lazy and annoying.  So be smart about your social media.  You want to spread them out over the day so you will target people who check into their accounts at different points in the day.

This page is all strategy.  You want people, specifically your target market, to see and hear about what they are missing at the tree farm.  Further, you want them to promote the tree farm for you.  Awesome pictures and a great experience will do that.  Review this page and the 3 previous and get your marketing strategy air tight and reinforced because all that is left is the presentation and evaluation.  If you can communicate this great idea to the Tree Farm folks, then you don't get the job.  See you in (Part 5)


-- Brian