FASST - Formazione per l'Agricoltura Sociale
 e Sviluppo Territoriale

Visibility, Networking, Marketing and Public Relations for Social Farming


SF2_EN  

 Title
Visibility, Networking, Marketing and Public Relations for Social Farming

 Keywords
Social Farming, networking, marketing, public relations

 Author
IWS

 Languages
English

 Objectives/goals
In this course, we will introduce 4 basic concepts for Social farming, that is Visibility, networking, marketing and public relations for social farming. We will present some tips to gain more visibility on the net and to manage appropriately your networking and public relation strategy. Also, some basic concept of marketing will be presented to boost social farming activity and profitability.


 Contents in bullet points
1. Module name: Visibility, networking, marketing and public relations for social farming 1.1. Unit name: Visibility in Social Farming Contents: How can you increase your visibility? 1.2. Unit name: Networking for Social Farming Contents: Tips for networking in social farming 1.3. Unit name: Marketing for social farming Contents: Guidelines for Marketing 1.4. Unit name: Public Relations for Social farming Contents: Tips for public relations


 Contents


 Visibility, Networking, Marketing and Public Relations for Social Farming

Visibility in Social Farming


  How can you increase your visibility?

 

Visibility online is the overall presence of a brand or its products in the general consumer environment. A business can have a great website, but it needs to be visible.

The goal of our business must be to get customers, sell more or build customer loyalty. But before even thinking about interacting with customers, they must know about the existence of our brand.

In this sense a good positioning on the Internet can make the difference. Internet is one of the most important channels of communication and of course of selling, potentially with no physical barriers. On top of that, Internet offers enormous possibilities of segmentation and personalization of sales processes, therefore it becomes evident that: you have to make your business visible on the Internet.

Here is a list of tips and recommendations to improve your online visibility

Use your website

  • Your website is the first impression for your potential customers, this is why you should pay attention to your corporative image and business presentation in your website. Make sure you explain thoroughly what your business is about and to whom your products or services are directed.

  • Be coherent and consistent with your mission, goals and vision in every aspect of your website from colors, images and graphics to contents and messages.

  • Use a responsive design, that is, make sure that your website is adapted to mobile browsing. If your website is not adapted, you can lose opportunities, as a matter of fact currently almost 50% of purchases are made from mobiles

Structure your website

  • Your website must be well structured, not only innovative and charming. You need to make sure that your website has answers for all types of customers and stakeholders. You should make sure that your user does not get lost when entering your website. Usability and user-friendliness must be your primary goal when defining the structure of your website.

Use keywords

  • Keywords are essential for increasing your visibility. While defining your mission, vision and goals make sure you also define a list of at least 10-15 keywords with which you would like to position your brand. Make sure keywords are not too complicated or too technical. Use those keywords that users use to find a business like yours. Have a look at your competitors and see what keywords they use.

Pay attention to font styles and heading

  • You site’s content shall be clear and legible, otherwise users will leave it.

Add a blog on your website

  • Creating a blog associated with your website will allow you to talk about some of the distinguishing elements of your business (keywords) and boost the image of your brand.

  • Moreover, you will generate interesting content for your target audience, and help your business improve your SEO positioning, thus boosting your visibility. Google and other browsers take into great consideration valuable contents when positioning a page. In this sense, contents must be original and must include keywords, well tagged images and text links without excessive repetitions so that reading is still fluid and appealing for general users.

 

Link building:

  • The link building is still one of the most efficient strategy. This is a technique which is used to increase the number of links entering the website.

Use business directories and / or marketplaces

  • Sometimes we forget that business directories are powerful generators of visibility, because many users prefer to evaluate different options in a single place instead of making multiple searches. It consist of registering your SME stressing your most relevant qualities and services. Marketplaces are also an interesting option. They are platforms that put sellers and buyers in contact to make a commercial transaction. They are a good way to get clients and increase your visibility. Some examples of well known marketplaces are Amazon, eBay, AliExpress, Etsy or Rakuten.

Effective after-sales service and customer service

  • Consumers have changed and they do not hesitate in including a comment about a product or service. Vice versa, before buying, they usually have a look at the opinions of the rest of customers. Therefore, if you are able to solve any issue quickly and effectively, a negative comment can be transformed into a positive one, positioning yourself as a serious company that cares for its users.

Create profiles on social networks

  • Nowadays, Social networks are one of the most relevant communication channels with greater reach. If you generate attractive posts with a consistent visual aspect to spread your brand values, interested public will share those contents and therefore your visibility will multiply. But beware, not all social networks have the same goals and profitability. In fact, traditionally consumer companies prefer Facebook or Instagram, while professional services (B2B) tend to choose LinkedIn.

Photos are king

  • People love to share inspirational, sarcastic and funny photos. Join the trend by putting together some messages and quotes that appeal to your target groups. This is a great way to access your fans’ network without being “markety”. People will see who created the image and share it via the original source (you), creating brand visibility and adding a few likes along the way. Plus, you will probably make someone’s day!

Invest in digital advertising

  • Not everything is optimizing contents for organic search results: online advertising is also really effective. There are multiple options and formats, with a special feature: it is possible to create impact only on the target audience of your social farming activity. In this sense, it is interesting to advertise through campaigns in Facebook which has a high capacity for segmentation in a wide spectrum of users. Moreover, search engines allow SEM (Search Engine Marketing), which consists of ads displayed according to searches, therefore segmentation is, again, very accurate. An example of this strategy is Google Adwords, which is a very simple Google tool to manage SEM actions.

Customer rewards

  • Customer reward programs are a low-cost alternative to get visibility. Create and actively promote a loyalty program that rewards on new enrollment and then provides graduated incentives to your best customers to keep customers coming back and boost word-of-mouth marketing.

Opt-in e-mail

  • E-mail is a low-cost, high-return way to enhance customer relationships and increase visibility. E-mail campaigns are low-cost actions that can be executed in weeks, not months. The key is to e-mail as often as twice monthly, but only to an in-house list of members who have agreed to receive e-mail from you. Keep the content extremely relevant, and you'll see response rates climb.

Marriage mail

  • Use "marriage mail"--send your ad or coupon in a joint mailing with other advertisers. Make sure your target public is common to both of you so that your message is relevant to your users.

Marketing partnerships

  • When money is tight, it often pays to partner with another company that targets the same audience. You can forge marketing partnerships with businesses that offer complementary services and pool your prospect lists or share advertising costs.

Grass-roots advocacy

  • Word-of-mouth is often the most desirable form of marketing. To get people talking, run a contest, stage an event, or assemble a group of "influencers“. Create online polls using Survey Monkey, pay attention to Google Analytics and Facebook Insights, and most importantly, listen carefully to responses. Offer an incentive for participating, like a free coffee or a gift card. Speaking of listening, keep your ears open to what competitors are doing. Be bold and willing to stand out and strategize over the long-term!

Learn from rejection

  • Sadly, not everyone will become a customer! Find out why not and learn from the experience. It could just be a matter of timing, or they could have an objection which will provide useful feedback to help you shape your future marketing or visibility strategies.

Don’t give up

  • It can be easy to get disheartened, but if you are confident you will get there! Just follow these tips and recommendations.

 



Networking for Social Farming


  Tips for networking in social farming

Networking means creating and foster relationships, interactions and exchanges with others in an organized and conscious way. As the English term suggests Net-Working   refers to the action of working within a “net” of contacts.

Professionally speaking, networking means establishing a mutual professional and / or commercial relationship with others with whom we share interests to exchange ideas, knowledge advices, information and contacts. Basically it boosts your contacts and therefore improves your visibility and eventually sales… It’s natural that networking will result in opportunities, as you are building connections and gaining exposure.

Networking can be achieved in different ways, here is a list of tips for networking to keep in mind:

  • Establish collaborative relationships. As a NGO, you probably have already established a relationship with local media and other stakeholders, as well as potential users and beneficiaries. Building these relationships ahead of time will make it easier for you to get your messages across. You should keep an updated list of networking contacts. Include their full name, organization, phone numbers, fax number, and email address. And most important of all, dont forget the type of networking contact.  This will allow you to make a quick phone call to the news editor at your local newspaper or a program director at your local radio station when the need arises.

  • Human contact is essential: you may send emails and letters, but this is useless unless it is accompanied by personal relationship. Relationships are not something imposed, they flow from the collaboration of several people to achieve a common purpose.

  • Complementarity. If you are interested in getting in touch with other entities, you cannot start from the idea that you are the center of your community and that others "must" support you, because you may generate more rejection than sympathy. The core idea is that we all have needs, so, state your needs for partnerships and your willingness to collaborate and listen.

  • Communication should be based on reciprocity. Your entity receives information and requests from external organizations, to which you must answer. This way you make sure that when you ask for dissemination of information you will receive the same treatment. "Leading by example" is a key aspect in establishing positive relations in networking. Therefore, remember to devote time and resources to contact and communicate with others in order to set the basis of a solid networking strategy.

  • Think about where we will meet a possible networking contact. Will it be at a convention, a training, a round of business? Will that person be waiting for a dialogue with us or will we approach it in an unplanned way? Be prepared and have at least an elevator pitch ready for your new contact in order to introduce yourself and your NGO in a memorable way. Don’t tell everything at the beginning.

  • Define the objective of our contact. When we do networking, what we seek is to meet people with whom we share some kind of professional interest. It is not about selling or capturing customers. It is about planting seeds for future harvesting.

  • Listen more than talk. Communication, as in any other space of our lives, is central. The 30/70 rule is an excellent equation to keep track of our networking strategy: speak 30% and listen 70%. People remember positively people who listened to them, who showed interest in them and, on the contrary, people usually ignore those who have not invested time on them or have actively listened to them.

  • Be punctual and take care of your personal image, when you attend an appointment or a meeting. Remember that you are not talking only to your direct contact, you are meeting the entire audience and if someone they know has a need that matches your business, if you have made an impression, you will likely get a referral.

  • Do not show up with business cards in your hand. Your business card is always delivered at the end.

  • Know how to end a networking conversation: "Would you give me your card?" It was very nice to speak with you.

  • Dont wait more than 48 hours to contact your new network contact. It will immediately show them that you are not really interested.

  • Create a possible networking database: Search and investigate people you want to contact and classify them according to the typology of relationship you want to establish. If possible, try to generate a face-to-face contact. Skype is also a good alternative when distance is an obstacle.

  • Use any opportunity for networking. Make sure you always give it a try and talk to new people around you in any occasion. You have 50% of chances to make a good network contact. If you don’t try your chance is 0.

  • Make the most of networking! Being visible and getting noticed is a big benefit of networking. By attending business and social events, people will begin to recognize you. This can help you to build your reputation as a knowledgeable, reliable and supportive person by offering useful information or tips to people who need it. Opportunities, increase of self confidence, friendship and advices are other interesting advantages of doing networking…so Lets Do IT!



Marketing for social farming


  Guidelines for Marketing

Marketing is a set of techniques aimed at offering goods and services to consumers and users in an appealing and profitable way.

Marketing is certainly one of the most effective strategy for decision-making processes.

An effective marketing strategy answers basically 2 important questions:

  • To which target do we want to turn our attention?

  • Why should these people choose our product?

Marketing defines which are our most appropriate customers and how to create value for that particular target.

If you already have a clear idea of the type of business you are about to create or that you already have, you can follow this guideline to define your marketing strategy.

Define your business, your niche, brand and products / services. First of all define your values, your goals in the short and long term, your mission and vision as they will set the basis to identify your target groups and niche. As a social enterprise, one of your core values will be to reinvest profits into your stated cause or community.

Once you have settled those milestones it will be much easier to define your brand and therefore your products and services. Since product and brand are intertwined with cause, when it comes to defining the “unique selling proposition” (USP), a social enterprise has a huge advantage: fulfilling a consumer need and improving world at same time.

Study your market in depth (including competitors). Market analysis should help you spot where to focus your efforts and how to maintain a competitive business. Your market identification should include: sector overview, market size, target market definition, customers identification by demographics (Age, Location, Gender, Income level, Education level, Marital or family status, Occupation, Ethnic background) and psychographics indicators (Personality, Attitudes, Values, Interests/hobbies, Lifestyles, Behavior),  competitors’ analysis, opportunities, barriers and regulations compliance. By knowing exactly your market you can effectively compete with larger providers.

Create a unique selling proposition. Define what makes you unique or special. Once you have defined your market and you have identified your costumer you should target your offer properly. Define a list of attributes so that whoever is promoting your brand for your business will feature the same characteristics in outgoing messages.

You might want to define also a slogan and/or tagline that is easy to remember and conveys your brand and/or your strength (what makes you different) in a single line.

Sell benefits, not features. When someone buys something, they are buying it because it will improve their life in some way. They are buying the impact of the product, rather than the product itself. It is this impact, or the benefit, that you need to focus on.

Build a consistent brand. You will have to define a logo that is clear and easy to identify and visually depicts what your brand is all about. Be consistent with your corporative image and use it in any interaction you have within your daily activities. Use images and/or videos effectively to convey your brand values.

Get your pricing right. It sounds obvious but a lot of social entrepreneurs (in fact a lot of entrepreneurs) struggle with pricing. The first thing to work out is your costs, so that you are not selling something for less than it is worthy. Think about how you want to position yourself; if your price is too cheap you need to sell a lot to generate a profit, if you are too expensive you might be out of the market.

Define your marketing plan. Follow the four P plan: define your product, price, point of sale and promotion to boost your visibility and increase sales. Depending on the stage of the product in the product life cycle, your objectives and your customer profile, your marketing plan defines which media are used. A campaign integrating multiple media is strongest, and ensures that the marketing messages are reinforced.

As far as promotion is concerned keep in mind contents in marketing, use wordpress, blogs and social networks to spread your messages and talk about your services and products. Use email marketing and advertising on the Internet through Google adwords and Facebook Ads for example.

Monitor and evaluate your marketing objectives. Controls are essential in measuring the results of your marketing plan compared to expectations. This will also help you planning future marketing campaigns. Your marketing plan has to be based on SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-bound) objectives. Make sure that you are able to monitor and check how you are doing in relatively short intervals so that you can timely react if the results are not the expected.

 



Public Relations for Social farming


  Tips for public relations

While marketing focuses on selling, public relations focus on attaining a positive image. Public relations main objective is to help a company to spread its message, develop relationships, connect institutions, people, structures, with their users or customers of reference, reach more customers and generate more sales. Every individual or entity operating in public need to be aware of public relations issues as any attempt to portray oneself in a certain way to the public can be considered public relations.

Public relations are less expensive than advertising as such, and they can be very valuable for a social farming enterprise.

Set your PR objectives. Setting clear goals can be the basis to use the appropriate messages with which you will present yourself to your target audience.

Know and define your target. This step is extremely important as it determines the audience that you want to conquer and depending on its characteristics you will use the appropriate message and strategy. Never deceive your interlocutors!

Appoint your PR specialists. They will be responsible for replying to the public, therefore choose them carefully and train them appropriately so that their answer is inline with your mission, vision and goals. Make sure you always offer true and reliable data.

Plan events with great attention. Pay attention to all details, make sure your stakeholders are included in your event management plan. Contact media and give them information about any news that you have. Don’t forget to consider risk management.

Be available. Always be available to give courses and seminars and attend events as it is a good moment to create new contacts. Don’t forget to provide your contact and business information!

Have a motivating and flexible attitude. Make sure you cause a positive impression in your audience and do your best to meet their expectations.

 



 Results

• Make the most out of corporative image to develop an effective visibility strategy for Social Farming • Identify and cooperate via networking and public relations with relevant stakeholders for the accomplishment of Social Farm’s objectives • Learn the basics of marketing for Social farming • Understand how to use Public relations for Social farming