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Effective Marketing for the Busy Farmer (BF 201)

Sell Smarter, Not Harder

Most of us go into farming with the thought of making some – or all – of our livelihood through the sale of what we make or grow. As you grow your operation to provide more of your family’s income, having a carefully planned marketing strategy becomes more critical. Completion of this online course will enable you to better understand how to price your products, position yourself in the “buy local”, direct sales or wholesale marketplace, and understand low-cost “guerrilla” marketing tactics to get the best bang for your buck and make your farm operation financially sustainable. If you complete the activities in this course, you will possess a marketing plan to guide decisions for which market channels to enter, branding and crisis management plans and pricing guidelines for your farm products.

Target Audience

New farmers with 1-3 years of farm management experience and/or serious aspiring new farmers who have already explored the basics of marketing and are ready to develop a formal marketing strategy.

Course Objectives

This course will help you:

  • Link your farm’s mission and vision to your commercial goals and marketing strategy
  • Understand the key elements of a solid marketing plan
  • Understand who your target customers should be and how to most effectively reach them
  • Understand & use effective marketing strategies
  • Understand and use various pricing strategies with your products
  • Understand what a “brand” is and how to relate it back to your marketing activities
  • Create a marketing plan through weekly input from the course instructors


The bulk of the course happens on your own time, with discussions, readings, and assignments in MOODLE, our virtual classroom. To add to the experience, webinars will be woven into the online interface of the course to allow you to meet on a weekly basis to learn from outside presenters, ask questions, and collaborate with other participants and the instructor to address your farm issues in real time. If you miss one, they are always recorded and posted for later viewing. Access details will be posted in MOODLE once you have registered and logged in.


Laura Biasillo is an Agricultural Economic Development Educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Broome County, NY.
Marie Anselm is an Agricultural Economic Development Educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Ontario County, NY.


Mon. Jan 11 – Feb 21, 2016. Webinars will be each Monday evening from 6:30-8pm Eastern time, and will be recorded for later viewing. This course is currently closed and will next be offered in Jan 2017 with registration opening in August 2016.

Course Outline

  • Week 1: Introduction to Strategic Marketing: Identifying the “best” market channel for your farm
    Topics Covered: What are the different options for marketing your farm products? How should you evaluate a wholesale versus a retail relationship? We will discuss the Market Channel Assessment Tool and how it can be most effectively used on your farm.
  • Week 2: Customer Identification
    Topics Covered: What are the types of customers who “buy local” and what motivates them?Who are your customers currently? Who should your customers be? How can you learn to identify trends and take advantage?
  • Week 3: Marketing Strategy, Part 1: Marketing Strategy & Customer Communication
    Topics Covered:How do you define your marketing strategy? How are you currently communicating with your customers? What changes can be made to most effectively reach your customers and increase sales?
  • Week 4: Expenses, budgets and pricing: How Much Should I Charge (and How Much is it Costing me to Produce this)
    Topics Covered:Expenses (real and perceived), components of a marketing budget (as part of a larger budget), pricing (what to include and how to allocate costs)
  • Week 5: Marketing Strategy, Part 2: Branding & Farm Image
    Topics covered: What is branding? How does a farm create and maintain a farm image? What happens when a crisis occurs that affects the farm, how does the farm respond?
  • Week 6: Collaborative/Cooperative Marketing: Marketing, cooperation and collaboration – do these go together or just a recipe for disaster?
    Topics covered: What is marketing and isn’t marketing? What are the differences between collaborative and cooperative marketing? When is it a good idea? Does it need to be a formal relationship or can it be done informally?

Cost and Registration

Fee for this course is $200. Registration is currently closed and will re-open in mid-August 2016.