Why a contract butcher is worth his weight in gold when you set up direct selling meat

 Direct selling farm produce, Farm Diversification, Marketing  Comments Off on Why a contract butcher is worth his weight in gold when you set up direct selling meat
Mar 122012
 

I remember when we first tasted our home reared organic meat. As the bacon fried in the pan we oohhed and aaahed because NO yucky white liquid came oozing out of the bacon. This was going to be good. We made a big thing of sitting down with our plates of bacon and sausage, admiring the evenly sized, plump sausages, beautifully browned, the rind on the dry cured bacon, crisped to perfection. We slowly raised our forks for that first mouthful.

That first mouthful. I still remember the taste. Ahh heavenly. We’d never tasted such fine bacon or such succulent sausages. The sense of achievement was intoxicating. Well of course it was going to taste amazing wasn’t it because we’d reared the meat ourselves? All the care and hard work that had gone into choosing the breed, getting the right feed, setting up the outdoor paddocks. All that work was gloriously justified in that first delicious mouthful.

It might not have been like that.

We might have tried cutting up the pork ourselves, found a recipe for bacon and sausage and had a bash at making our own. Then our reaction might have been a little dampened by the chunky mis-shapen rashers cut without a meat slicer by our amateurish selves. It’s likely that a first attempt at curing bacon could have gone awry leaving us with over salty cured meat. As for sausages, there’s so much that can go wrong, turning your delicious pork into an inedible mess.

The same care would have gone into raising that meat but the lack of skill and knowledge in the processing and butchery could have led to a big disappointment.

Instead we used a superb contract butcher, Amberley Vale Foods.

What is a contract butcher?

A contract butcher provides butchery services, particularly for farmers wanting to direct sell their own meat. They either charge per kilo, or they may charge by carcass weight range. Some abattoirs, wholesale butchers (usually supplying independent retailers), high street butchers and even other farmers, may offer cutting services to other producers.

Surely it’s easy to learn butchery skills?

Why would you use a contract butcher?

Butchery takes precision and practice. It is a skill you have to learn. A totally different skill from farming. For any product, presentation is crucial but for meat in particular if you want to get a good price then please don’t take short cuts with the butchery.

A skilled butcher can take an unpromising hunk of meat and turn it into appetising, ready to cook chops, roasting joints and diced casserole cubes. They make it look easy. It isn’t.

You could save a ton of money if you set up your own cutting room

It’s true you could save on cutting charges and you would have more control. Many producers ultimately do set up their own cutting room. But when you’re starting out, you get so much more than a cutting service from a contract butcher.

As well as the best presentation for your meat, you get valuable feedback on the quality of your carcass. For instance over-fat pigs produce bacon with a thick rind which most consumers don’t want. Butchers are very fussy about the quality of meat they take in from the abattoirs so you can learn so much from a butcher’s critique of your carcasses.

At the other end of the process, a butcher will have trusted suppliers for labels and packaging. All these contacts will be invaluable for you when you set up your own cutting room.

In the meantime it can help reduce up front costs if you pay the butcher to package your meat. This saves you having to bulk purchase packaging if your throughput is small. Again you can learn so much from how the butcher lays the meat on the trays, which type of packaging he uses and even where he puts the label.

If you form a good relationship with your butcher, he may let you watch him cut up the meat. When you do set up your own cutting room, this will give you a standard to aim for.

Until or unless you can achieve a similar standard, why would you want to take all that trouble. Many contract butchers are worth their weight in gold? And especially if you find a skilled one.

What butchery skills can you expect from a contract butcher?

At the highest level you have Q Guild butchers. For these guys butchery becomes an art form. You would be lucky to find a Q Guild butcher offering contract cutting services. They are usually working in top end High Street butchers. The simplest solution is to use your abattoir’s cutting services.

Using a cutting service at the abattoir makes life easier for you. You can deliver the animals and collect finished product from the same place. If you use a butcher elsewhere you need to agree who pays for transport of the carcass from the abattoir.

Expect to pay more for any additional processing such as sausage making. Curing bacon requires specialist equipment. Our contract butcher was a bacon and sausage specialist. He supplied top end independent retailers in London from his industrial unit in Gloucestershire.

What about white meat, like poultry?

Poultry butchery is another distinct skill area. You may find it more difficult to get contract cutting services for poultry. It’s best to ask at the abattoir. Just as there are good farmers and poor farmers, butchery skills vary too.

Not all cutting services are the same. You will get better quality and service from a business that promotes cutting services and is used to dealing with farmers.

Make best use of a contract butcher when you first set up

We were lucky to find Amberley Vale Foods, a family run business whose owner took us under his wing. He helped us produce better pigs and his butchery skills wowed our customers from our very first market. He even gave us a bottle of champagne when our first child was born.

Don’t inflict amateur butchery skills on your customers.

Go away and enrol in classes to learn how to do it properly. In the meantime a contract butcher will give you the professional presentation of your meat that will help you win sales and favour. The added benefit of using a contract butcher is that you can learn so much from them abut butchery, packaging and labelling which will be of huge benefit when you do set up your own cutting room.

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If you’re a farm enterpreneur, looking at direct selling meat, then save yourself a ton of time and money by getting advice from someone who can tell you what pitfalls to avoid and how to market your products and turn customers into raving fans. Get marketing advice from Juliet Fay. Email me for a quote.

In the meantime for regular marketing tips for rural entrepreneurs and good links for farm retail follow me on Twitter and don’t forget to sign up for my enews (it’s free!), giving you insights into creating engaging content that lead your customers to buy more.

Look out for Piglet Twitter Clinics coming soon to West Wales!

How Twitter newbies can measure return on investment

 farm retail, Marketing, Social media, Twitter  Comments Off on How Twitter newbies can measure return on investment
Mar 112012
 

Bad news I’m afraid. You can’t measure return on investment if you’re drowning in the sea of random chat on Twitter. Following conversations about runaway dogs in Richmond Park and Stephen Fry’s latest perfectly formed tweet will give you hours of pleasant diversion. A return of sorts but not, I’m sure, the return you were thinking about.

If you’re using Twitter with no strategy, then you will have no objective. No objective means no idea why you are there. Naturally that gives you nothing to measure. Vague ideas about making connections will stay just that, vague ideas.

Aspiring Ernest pig

You’ll get diverted by any number of random conversations and waste time. Confirming your first impression that Twitter is full of meaningless yakety-yak and talking pigs (oh yes, check out @ErnestPig!).

Eventually you’ll leave the Twitter sphere in disgust or assign it the role of pleasant time wasting like tidying your desk when really you need to work.

On the other hand, you could get yourself a strategy, something most Twitter newbies don’t have.

What is a Twitter newbie?

A Twitter newbie is often a Twitter cynic. New to the tools and with a healthy dose of scepticism, they often come to the Twitter party full of doubt and loathing. Isn’t Twitter full of meaningless chatter and talking animals?

Okay may be not loathing but just that familiar resistance we all have when faced with getting to grips with something new. Even an update to your mobile phone can cause that irritation and frustration while you find your way round a new interface. No one wants to waste their time.

“Tell me how I can measure my return on investment,” the Twitter newbie asks, Every penny conscious rural entrepreneur, quite rightly wants to know the answer. First you need something to measure. To find out what that is, you need a strategy.

Okay, so what strategy do you need on Twitter?

A strategy for your time on Twitter is simple to conceive but harder to implement (it takes discipline). Your Twitter strategy needs to consider these areas:

What do you specifically want to achieve? What’s your objective. Let’s say you want some publicity,  you’d like to get your  rare breed pork featured in a newspaper or magazine.

In order to get there you’ll have to work through a number of steps.

First, you need to know who to connect with to achieve your objective. In our example above there are several types of publications that might feature your rare breed pork. Perhaps food magazines, the recipe section of the weekly paper, regional magazines like Carmarthenshire Life, trade magazines like farm retail, or farming publications like Farmers’ Weekly.

Each of these publications has a different audience, so you need to consider why you want publicity. If it is to get more sales enquiries, then you would focus on the consumer publications.

So you set about finding editors, journalists and writers on Twitter who contribute to such magazines.

How do you find journalists and writers like these?

You probably won’t know their names, so search for the publication names for instance, “WesternMail” and also current topics that they may be writing about for instance Spring pork recipes.

So step one is finding those writers and journalists. And how to measure that?

At every stage, record hours spent per week on Twitter and your results. In this case, how many writers did you find and follow and how many have followed you back.

Stage 2, engaging writers in your product or service

This is where it gets tougher. If you bounce on to Twitter and bombard journalists with pleading tweets asking them to feature your rare breed pork you are going to annoy them and worse damage your business reputation.

Journalists know that businesses want free publicity so they will see you coming a mile off. However journalists and editors also want good content for stories. If you have a good story there is a strong chance of finding a publication that will want to feature that rare breed pork we used in the example above. But you have to give writers something different, something interesting that will get your story picked up. How do you do that?

Stage 2, the long game

The bad news it takes more than one tweet. To attract the attention of influencers and writers you need to build a picture of your product that shows its uniqueness and value. Then you need to engage in conversations with the writers. Just as you would if you met them at a networking meeting, you need to get to know them. Let them get to know you. Take an interest in what they do. Read their work. Be creative, give them images and words about your products and the life behind the business.

That takes time.

So during Stage 2, your hours spent on Twitter will increase. The results you are measuring may first be the number of relevant conversations you have with writers and journalists but ultimately you are after those features in publications.

Right now, you might be thinking, this sounds like an awful lot of work but ask yourself where else can you ‘chat’ with journalists from across the world writing about everything from food to farming? Twitter gives you unparalleled access to them.  What you do with that opportunity will determine how much return you get on your investment.

Making the most of the opportunities

As with all social media platforms, the key is to create, share and broadcast good content. That can be images, stories, links and yes some chat! You are showcasing yourself and your business, telling your story. Engaging with others is not only rewarding in itself, it also adds another dimension to your business image on Twitter. This in itself can attract positive attention. By being clear why you are on Twitter, you also start to tune into people and conversations that help you promote or develop your business.

The opportunities for publicity and promotion can often be totally unexpected as Wigwam holidays found.

Wigwam Holidays (follow them @wigwamholidays) promote farm wigwam sites throughout the UK where glamping (more up market camping) is becoming very popular. Through Twitter, Wigwam Holidays got the opportunity to recommend a farm wigwam site for a location for a fashion shoot. If that resulted in images of a wigwam on a beautiful farm location appearing in a fashion magazine, how much was that conversation worth?

In PR circles editorial is estimated to be worth 3 times the value of a paid advert. So if a half page advert in a magazine is worth say £1500, the value of a half page feature is nominally worth £4500. We begin to see how targeted conversations could give you a very high return on invesment. What about other returns on investment?

Reducing spend on paid advertising

For larger businesses that have advertising budgets, Twitter and other social media platforms are providing an alternative to paid advertising. Calon Wen, an organic dairy co-op in West Wales has reduced advertising spend by 50% over 12 months and seen no drop in revenues, since spending just 4 hours per week using Facebook and Twitter.

One tweet from the wife of a Welsh Government minister alerted Calon Wen (follow them on Twitter) that Tesco in Cardiff had no Calon Wen milk in stock. A quick call to Tesco, who were unaware of the problem, got the shelves re-stocked quick smart. That timely communication saved Calon Wen from making an avoidable loss of trading sales that day.  What can you expect once you’re more established on Twitter. Let’s take a look at a Twitter Pro, who is filling seats on hertraining courses.

From newbie to advanced level, leveraging the power of Twitter

Bricks and Bread Sustainable Living Centre run by Trudy Thompson is a dynamic social enterprise that has used Twitter to build an astonishing business hub in Aldershot, UK. Now Trudy is leveraging that learning by offering Twitter courses. She has over 7000 followers on Twitter. Here are the numbers.

Trudy spends 30hrs a week on Twitter. She promoted her free Twitter guide to her Twitter followers and in 4 weeks it had over 44,000 views of the pdf & ISSUU document. This was achieved because of the number of retweets she got. This was followed by promotion of her Twitter courses run every week. Trudy tweeted notifications about the courses 3 times a day for 4 weeks. She gets between 50 and 100 daily retweets. To date, the Twitter class is growing by up to 20 bookings a day. The average value of a booking is £37.50. Follow Twitter power user, Trudy @bricksandbread.

So what if you’ve only got 15 followers

You’re a newbie, you don’t have 7000 followers but you still want to measure results. Set out a clear strategy with specific objectives. Decide what you want to achieve at each stage, for example finding food journalists, then measure your progress and record hours spent per week. Do this for every stage of the process until you achieve your goals e.g. a feature in a magazine. Then work out the value of that result. The question to ask is could you achieve better results for the same time, no money investment using other types of marketing strategies. If you can, then go ahead.

Twitter is a gateway to a mind blowing number of opportunities but you can only find them if you map out a clear strategy. The fastest way to increase return on investment is to learn from those who are already using it successfully.

If you want intensive, hands on Twitter training for your staff or members, take a look at my Become a Twitter Pro (even if you don’t like small talk) courses, available throughout the UK.

For more questions answered about Twitter, follow me on Twitter and sign up for my enews giving you insights into creating engaging content that lead your customers to buy more.

Look out for Piglet Twitter Clinics coming soon to West Wales!

Why market research is essential before you begin your poultry marketing enterprise

 Farm Diversification, Farm entrepreneur, farm retail, Food producers, Marketing  Comments Off on Why market research is essential before you begin your poultry marketing enterprise
Mar 072012
 

When you learn to drive everything about a car is new and unknown. To drive the car well you need to know what the instrument dials are showing, what the pedals do and which stalks turn on which equipment, so too you need to thoroughly understand all the many components of your market if you want to create a successful business from selling poultry.

What does it really mean to understand your market?

The market was literally where people gathered to buy and sell provisions. Today “your market” refers to where you sell (the place, real or virtual) and who you sell to. How much do you know about your market?

A thorough understanding of your market gives you a wide range of valuable information which helps you decide what products to offer, where to sell them and how to sell them i.e. online, home delivery or at markets. Isn’t poultry just an every daycommodity?

You might think poultry is an everyday meat but it is more subtle than that. Even within the poultry market, customers differ in their expectations and habits. Those habits are important.

Isn’t one poultry customer pretty much like another? 

Are the people who like to buy in farmers’ markets the same ones that shop online? What about the people who buy free-range poultry? Are they also tempted by organic chicken? Do the people who buy chicken liver also buy whole oven-ready chickens? These are just some of the questions you can ask to form a picture of your typical customer. You’ve get the idea of investigating who buys from you. What else can you research?

How market research can help you find the right words for your leaflet or website?

By turning detective and getting to know your market in depth, you can find out, not just what products your typical customer might want, but also what words to write in your promotional leaflets, web pages and blog posts. Really?

What do I mean by that? 

Part of understanding your market, means actually talking to your potential customers. It is from the very words they use that you can begin to create compelling sales messages for your leaflets and website. All the information you need is in that typical customer’s mind.

Let’s take an example: when I wanted to write a web page promoting my services as a trainer for hire, I went and spoke to a project officer who had procured my services for a project called Creativity and Innovation in Micro-Enterprises. From the interview, I learnt what she was looking for in a presenter, someone “vibrant and go getting”. You’ll find the words”vibrant and go getting” on my web page.

Who is that typical customer? 

You look for someone who goes out of their way to buy direct from producers like you. Then ask them not just about chicken but about food, cooking, eating, food shopping, markets and what they like to do on the weekends. What you are doing here is fleshing out the stories behind your ideal customer.

Customers are great, we like customers but have you thought about the competition?  have you thought about the competition?

Don’t forget to check out the competition? 

If you haven’t already, you need to check out any other poultry producers selling in your area. They may have an online presence or you might just have to visit markets and local independent stores looking for any locally produced product.

Find out as much as you can about them. What they sell, what price they sell at, where they sell and who buys from them. This is another crucial aspect of market research. Too much competition and you may struggle to get a foothold in the marketplace, too little and you may be looking at blazing a trail which can be a tough and unprofitable place to be. Do the research.

Okay but does it really matter, whether I do market research or not?

You can go ahead and try to sell without this information. In fact that’s exactly what many people in business do. But you will be shooting blindly in the dark. You might get lucky and sell some poultry but for long term sustainability for your business you need to find, cultivate and keep loyal customers.

That means understanding who they are, empathising with their aspirations, dreams and concerns. Knowing where they shop and crucially why exaclty they love to buy from producers like you. That will also help you spot emerging trends. Just like the first merchants used to.

You’ve got to think like a merchant.

The early merchants sussed out which towns brought the most business and which products sold better. They made a beeline for the best spots. Haven’t things become more sophisticated nowadays? What about surveys and market data?

You can commission in depth market research to give you detailed information on volumes of product sold and the demographics and attitudes of the kind of people who buy poultry in general.

But it’s going to cost you.

Yes, it’s expensive to carry out that sort of market research

And usually way beyond your budget when you’re starting out. The good news is that government funded bodies often carry out this kind of top level research and make the results publicly available. You can get market data such as the value of sales for different sectors as well as consumer attitude surveys and actual grocery shopping data.

Trade associations and similar bodies like Farma [add link] in the UK have detailed market reports giving you an overview of national trends. Although you have to pay a membership to access the information, there are other benefits such as subsidised credit card schemes which can make the fee worthwhile.

This is all very well, but in the end the only way to get in depth knowledge of your local market is to get out and pound some pavements.

So you’re going to need some good boots?

Yep! Get your walking boots on, it’s time to do your own research. All you need are eyes, ears and a means of recording what you find. A simple notebook or voice recorder will do and a camera is a good idea too. Start at your local farmers’ market. Observe how people shop, what they buy, what they talk about, and how they behave when they are in the market. What draws them to the stalls?

Look at the produce on the stalls. Notice how it is packaged and priced. Listen to the stall holders as they sell. What do they say? How do they talk about the products? You’re looking for what works.

When you find it, note it and imitate it (not the logos but the manner, the type of displays, the product packaging and so on). As for a stall, so for a farm shop.

Go and pay some incognito visits to farm shops (maybe travel outside the county, you don’t want to upset your competitors). In every business there is lots of trial and error.

Learn from those that have gone before 

You’ll find most people in the industry are happy to share their experiences, as long as you’re not setting up on their doorstep. [example] You can learn so much from those who have gone before. They won’t know everything about your local market but they can give you ideas that you can test out and most importantly flag up the pitfalls to avoid.

Yeah yeah, let me get on with it.

But what if you just can’t wait to get started?

Of course now you’re in the car, even though it’s your first time, part of you wants to rev up that engine and screech away with an impressive tyre spin, but it won’t get you very far.

Launching into selling poultry with no knowledge of, or empathy for, your market will only take you so far. Time spent understanding the changing needs and conditions in your market will create a stronger business in the long run especially if you hit icy conditions at any point!

Coming soon, How to use social media for market research.

Why a database is essential to keep people haunting your farmers’ market stall

 Email marketing, Farm Diversification, farm retail, Marketing  Comments Off on Why a database is essential to keep people haunting your farmers’ market stall
Feb 292012
 

How can you get customers haunting your stall?

You go inside an old, deserted house on the edge of town. Standing in the hall you hear a creaking sound. Back and forward. To and fro. It’s coming from the front room. Nervously you push open the door. What will you find? Is the house haunted?

There in the corner is a wooden rocking chair. It’s rocking. Back and forward. To and fro. As you watch, a warm, gentle feeling creeps over you. You’re no longer scared. The agent tells you later that a lovely little old lady used to own the house. Every evening she would sit in the old rocking chair beside the fire.

It seems she still returns to sit in her favourite place.

Getting customers to return over and over is every stall holder’s dream. It’s the ones who haunt your stall that you really want!

How can you get customers to return again and again?

Just like the little old lady in her rocking chair, customers come back again and again to a stall or shop because they enjoy the experience. It makes them feel good. But if you are only at the market once a week or worse once a month, then all sorts of things may prevent your customers from returning. They may make another arrangement or simply forget to come. This is where a gentle reminder from you can make all the difference.

But to give that little nudge, you need to be able to contact your customers.

How can you get in touch with customers?

The answer lies in email.

Email is the easiest and cheapest way to keep in regular contact with your customers. Post is a bit more reliable but the costs make it less desirable. Collecting and storing your customers’ email addresses is best done in a customer database.

What on earth is a customer database?

This is simply the name given to the place where you store email addresses and other important contact details about your customers, such as name, postal address and telephone number. You can get fancy customer databases that store a whole lot more information such as purchase history, birthdays, ghost beliefs (just joking) and other information about their buying habits but you don’t necessarily need all that information at the start.

If you use a billing system like Sage or Quick books you already have a customer database. However most businesses selling through shops or farmers’ markets don’t tend to invoice customers and so they don’t tend to collect and store customer details. This is a missed opportunity.

Why do you need to store customer details?

A customer database gives you the opportunity to create much more targeted, personal marketing campaigns. A campaign is just a fancy word for an organized course of action. The success of your campaigns relies on putting a targeted message in front of the right audience. Without a database, you rely on your website and or the evening newspaper, or a leaflet drop to get your message across to customers and potential customers.

Details of potential customers, known as prospects, are even more valuable. If a prospect has given your their email address they have given you permission to get in touch with information about your products and services they may find relevant and useful.

Once you have a customer (and prospect) database you can communicate directly with your customers through e.g. email marketing or direct mail letter. The advantage of this type of communication is that it is personal and can be very targeted. For instance if you have collected all the email addresses from the farmers’ market then you know that everyone on the list goes to farmers markets. You can’t say the same about everyone who reads the evening newspaper. In comparison an advert in the newspaper is far more hit and miss. What about keeping it legal?

Are there any legal issues around data collection?

Before you begin collecting contact details from customers or prospects, you need to sign up for the Data Protection Act. The link takes you to the UK government page which tells you all about the rules regarding keeping people’s data. If you are outside the UK, search for “data protection” in Google or another search engine, to find the equivalent legislation where you are. Once you’re legal, then you can get started collecting data. What’s the best tool to use?

How do you create a customer database?

There are a number of tools to choose. Which you choose will depend on what you want sort of communications you want to carry out. For direct mail, a simple Excel spreadsheet with a column for each piece of information e.g. Title, First name, Surname is ideal for starters.

There are all singing, all dancing customer relationship management (CRM) programmes which enable you to track every interaction with each customer. This is probably unnecessary for most businesses doing Farmers’ Markets but you may require such a programme in due course.

Email marketing software such as Mail Chimp www.mailchimp.com/ offers free entry level packages and allows you to store email addresses and other customer data in a list which help you quickly and easily create email campaigns. Mail Chimp and similar programmes have the added advantage that you can create a sign up form for your website, blog and Facebook page where people can sign up to your list. You can also, still collect details at the market stall and enter information manually.

How do you collect contact details at the stall?

Why would customers give you their contact details? You might well ask. You need to give them a good reason, after all they are giving you something of value. What can you offer in return that is valuable or useful to your customers?

Recipes, special offers or simply reminders about the market can all be helpful for your customers and prospects. This is slow but sure and many farmers’ market businesses such as Sussexway Meat have successfully built up a database of over 1000 farmers market customers using this method. Remember these are people who shop in the farmers markets you attend. How much more targeted can you get?

Don’t like asking for email addresses?

A small well targeted list is worth far more than a huge random list. In fact one accountant has put a nominal value of £10 on every email address on a business list. You can see why because, if you don’t keep in touch with your customers you may find they start haunting other outlets, where they’re made to feel more at home. Places where the business keeps in regular contact. If you offer something of value, such as special promotions, recipes or just reminder nudges for markets and food events, most of your customers will be happy to give you their email addresses. However if you don’t ask, they almost certainly won’t offer an email address to you.

Make sure your customers return again and again to your stall by building and using a customer database. You can take the hard work out of getting sign ups at the stall by using QR codes. To find out how, read the article on How to use QR codes to get sign ups to your email list at farmers markets.

How QR codes make it easy for farmers’ market customers to subscribe to your list

 Electronic media, Email marketing, Farm Diversification, farm retail, Food producers, Marketing  Comments Off on How QR codes make it easy for farmers’ market customers to subscribe to your list
Feb 242012
 

When Alice stepped through the looking glass, she was instantly transported to another world full of fascination and enchantment.

QR codes transport the customer in front of you, online to discover exciting goodies, offers or fun videos, competitions or information to help them pull off a gourmet dinner party. To make sure it’s not a one off visit, you can offer those goodies via your email newsletter. So people sign up to get at the goodies.

Subscribe to Juliet's enews

 What is a QR code?

A Quick Response or QR code is a two-dimensional matrix bar code that is used to identify products.

They were created by Japanese Denso Wave, Inc and are used mainly to identify the URL of a company’s Web site so that mobile phone users can photograph the code and retrieve information about the organization.

 How do you get a QR code?

There are numerous QR code generators. It’s simple and quick, go and take a look. Here’s Free Nuts’ Top Ten.

 How do phones read QR codes?

Just as Alice needed a special looking glass, your customers need some special kit to photograph the code. A smart phone and a QR reader app. Plenty of these apps are free. Here’s a round up of the most popular ones.

How do people subscribe to your list via QR codes?

At your market stall or in your shop window, you simply display a QR code that takes people directly to your subscribe page for your email marketing campaign lists. Once they scan the code, they can enter their name and email address via their phone and hit subscribe.

Why would customers scan your QR code?

For some QR codes still have novelty appeal. They think it’s “neat” that they can scan barcodes with their smart phone. This will soon wear off.

You need to provide an incentive for people to scan the code and indeed sign up to your list. That incentive might be:

  • Free relevant information such as recipes, articles
  • Exclusive subscriber offers and promotions
  • Notification of special events or festivals.
  • VIP discounts on events or workshops
  • Competitions

 Alice would have loved movies

Short videos showing what goes on behind the scenes (use common sense with this) are a great way to engage with your audience. QR codes enable people to connect to that sort of content on the spot.

 Your imagination is the only limit for using QR codes

All your off line printed material could display QR codes.

  •  Business cards
  • Carrier bags
  • Bags for life
  • Leaflets
  • Brochures
  • Menus
  • Invoices
  • Receipts
  • Workshop hand outs
  • Name badges at events
  • Promotional calendars
  • T-shirts

Meet all sorts of characters through QR codes, from farmers to footballers!

Calon Wen, a West Wales dairy co-operative has successfully used QR codes on their packaging which take consumers direct to a micro site where they can watch videos from the farms, join in on Facebook or read the Twitter feeds.

John Lewis have created a no staff shop in Brighton where products are displayed behind glass with QR codes. You simply scan the code and then buy the product via their online shop. Walk out and the product will be despatched direct to your home.

Bromley Football Club have taken it to another level by shaving QR codes onto the backs of players heads. It’s not yet clear how QR readers will cope with knobbly human heads!

Feeling lost and bewildered by all this new technology?

It’s easy to get overwhelmed but if your customers are embracing the new technology then shouldn’t you follow suit? On the upside much of this new technology is free to adopt, but it does require your time. Take it one step at a time.

Where to now?

Read more articles on email marketing.

Funding available to UPSKILL the Welsh Food Industry

 Funding available to UPSKILL the Welsh Food Industry  Food producers  Comments Off on Funding available to UPSKILL the Welsh Food Industry
Jan 102012
 

I'm always interested in resources that can help those in the sustainable food and farming sector. If you run a food business in West Wales or the Valleys you may be entitled to funding towards a foundation degree. Here's some details:

The University of Wales Institute, Cardiff (UWIC) School of Heath Sciences has launched a new programme of study through its Collaborative Provision partnership which includes Bridgend College.  Employees who work in the private food sector who live and/or work in West Wales and the Valleys, could be entitled to a fully or partly-funded place on the programme – subject to conditions.

The Foundation Degree in Food Science & Technology will help employees working in the Food Sector to enhance their skills and their prospects.

The programme has been developed to engage fully with the food industry of Wales providing a unique opportunity for development of strategic staff. All the modules have been mapped against the Sector Skills Council (IMPROVE) occupational standards to ensure the needs of the food industry are met.

Read more.

Juliet Fay is a farm based enterpreneur helping micro businesses create raving fans by learning to write better sales messages.

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