Falmouth, Massachusetts, where our office is located, is a wonderful seaside community. We’ve have this neat, demographic mix of retired boomers, scientists from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, summer residents, virtual white collar workers and fishermen and farmers.
One of our farms, Coonamessett Farm, deserves the “ingenious” marketing award.
Here’s the thing – Farmer Ron, who runs Coonamessett Farm (www.coonamessettfarm.com) quickly learned that you can’t make a living farming organic vegetables. So, rather than see the produce rot, he started cooking it up into delicious vegetarian dishes. He opened a little café on the back porch for lunch and weekends. The little porch expanded to another and another, with dinners on Friday and Saturday nights in the summer. Then the Jamaican workers started hosting dinners on summer Wednesdays.
By the way, keep in mind that this is an outdoor venue, overlooking rolling hills of vine-ripe tomatoes, cutting flowers and blueberry bushes. It’s BYOB. So the atmosphere is 3-generation families, spread out at long tables – open bottles of wine and lemonade. There’s a play area for the children. Parents and babies dance. You tend to see the same people each weekend. Think German beer garden.
Ron started an electronic newsletter. He writes serious stuff like, “I would like to outline some of our rainy day activities here at the farm…The premiere event will be puddle jumping, either natural rain-made puddles or those created by our irrigation using only the purest well water. The event is for kids only and requires them to try to jump over every puddle but fail to do so. There are no prizes or awards for this organic activity as we do not want to lower any child’s self-esteem.”
They host craft fairs, eco-cross bike races, canoe runs and, of course, pay-to-pick fresh produce.
Then the farm decided to try something even bigger – a Montessori school. So now they’ve opened this junior high Montessori school, with ship building and sustainable agriculture classes.
The media for all this? An email blast to farm members and a few local newspaper ads. But, mainly, word of mouth.
So what’s ingenious about that?
The farm understands its customers. They convened an advisory committee – otherwise known as a focus group – to tell them what would motivate customers. They developed compelling experiences, extensions of their primary product. They created events that touch their customers on an emotional level. They make you laugh and create lasting memories.
How many brands with multimillion dollar budgets can boast that?