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What are some advertising strategies for my CSA?

Answer: When getting the word out about a CSA, farmers need to hold true to their story. Farm mission, vision and/or values that existed prior to starting a CSA operation are still a crucial part of the messaging. For example, a farm dedicated to affordable produce needs to price its share appropriately.

With all advertising, the medium needs to meet the audience. It may be tempting to run an advertisement in the local paper, but is that the best way to reach a generic young millennial who gets news online? Where will the ideal CSA customer see an advertisement for a CSA share?

The first place many people go for information is the Internet, and any farm looking to advertise its CSA will need to be sure that its potential customers will find it there. This means getting a website, social media accounts, and/or reviews in Google, Yelp, and more. LocalHarvest.com is one of the most utilized CSA listing services on the web. A farmer looking to list a CSA on LocalHarvest.com just needs to sign up for the service.

When considering where to have a physical presence, CSA farmers should consider where their potential customers are. Health food stores, farmers markets, coffee shops, bookstores, and yoga/wellness centers are all places to consider visual advertisements. Selling product at a farmers market may be a good way to get exposure to potential members. Remember, however, that farmers markets can be a marketing expense, in addition to being a potential source of income. Joining the local Chamber of Commerce, Farm Bureau, Farmers Union, Grange, or other professional organization can also help gain a CSA some publicity.

Word of mouth can be a powerful advertising outlet for a CSA when contented CSA members become promoters of the business. Like all advertising, word of mouth is not free and needs to be cultivated and encouraged. Farmers looking to use their member bases will need to encourage them to become promoters. This encouragement can take the form of anything from a simple acknowledgement to a discount on the next year’s share.

To learn more, consult the ATTRA publication Community Supported Agriculture. You’ll learn about marketing a CSA, making a member agreement, communicating with members and much more!