One of the joys of running any small business is the sense of serving a tightly knit community. That’s especially true in agriculture, which, after all, is defined by the land around you. But in many ways, the online age has lent new meaning to the word “community.” These days, “community” may refer to not just physical proximity but also digitally connected people scattered across the country or around the world. Even if you’ve always thought of yourself as local, it pays to consider ways to expand your world by generating new leads, wherever they live.
Overhaul your site
Access to search engines on laptops, tablets and smartphones has turned us into a nation of avid searchers and evaluators. In fact, according to Pew Research Center, nearly 80% of people who use the Internet conduct product research online. If you haven’t updated your website in a while, take another look. Is it attractive and welcoming? Is it as helpful to first-time visitors as it is to your regular customers? Keep in mind that people unfamiliar with your farm will come to your site using search engines. Make sure the language on your homepage includes strong “keywords” — words or phrases a user might enter into a search engine when looking for an operation such as yours.
Share your Knowledge
As a professional grower, you have highly useful expertise to share with the world. Use your website and social media channels, or start a blog to educate readers with articles and tips about storing and preparing produce, or even about growing their own. Emphasize your knowledge about regional specialties to distinguish yourself from growers elsewhere. Educating readers and helping them solve problems (rather than just advertising your wares) can help establish you as a trusted resource. This, in turn, builds trust in your business and could help steer new customers your way.
Include calls to action
When you share knowledge on your site or through social media, be sure to encourage some follow-up action on the part of the reader. You don’t need to ask them to buy something, but you should link them to further information about your company, including the best ways to reach you.
Manage your contacts
Everyone who sends you an email or inquires about your produce is a potential customer. But how do you capitalize on these opportunities? Today, customer relationship management (CRM) software systems designed especially for small enterprises give you capabilities once reserved for businesses with enormous sales staffs. A good CRM system enables you to respond to queries with automated, personalized messages tailored to whatever topic the sender is most interested in. You can track leads and rank them according to how promising they are.
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