Knowledge of who comprises your target audience and where they are is essential.
Knowing your target audience well also means knowing something of their media consumption and communications habits. Do they tend to subscribe to cable television? Are they more likely to consume English-language media or media in another language? Do they use social media like Facebook or Twitter? Do they tend to have cellphones and communicate through text messaging? Answering questions like these about your target audience can help you to dedicate your promotional resources to the outlets that align most closely to those used by your potential customers.
If you are considering paid advertising, the media outlets will have a great deal of data about their audience that they can share with you as part of their sales presentation. Take advantage of the information they offer you but consider it carefully. Their sales goal is to convince you that their outlet will fit your needs. You need to weigh their claims about who they can reach with your own knowledge of the community.
Free media can also be very effective in getting the word out. Develop a strategy of press outreach concerning the farmers’ market, with multiple press releases, each highlighting a different farmers’ market benchmark. For example, you might distribute a press release when the permits are in place to announce a farmers’ market will be opening in a month, then a press release announcing the grand opening celebration and then one which reports on the successful first month of operation for the farmers’ market.
If you have identified where your target audience resides, direct mail or door-to-door outreach can be an effective tool to reach them. There are a number of companies that will sell or rent you mailing addresses within the geographical boundaries that you define. If you have a corps of eager volunteers, you may find it more effective to hand deliver promotional flyers to homes instead of paying postage to mail them. If you choose to hand deliver flyers, be sure your team is aware that only US Postal Service employees are allowed to put anything into mailboxes. If your team places flyers into a mailbox, it could result in financial penalties for your organization. Flyers should be left in other places such as on doorsteps or hanging from doorknobs.
Once your market is operating, you may find it advantageous to have separate promotional outlets for current customers and potential customers. Many farmers’ markets have found success with inexpensive media such as email newsletters and social media to remain in communication those who are already shopping at their markets. Through these outlets they are able to share farmers’ market updates about new farmers or new products entering the market, promote recipes and special events that encourage shoppers to return to the market, and stay at the top of their customers’ minds.