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  • Ideas wanted for Marketing SOHO business tree farm.

    updated 7 months, 1 week ago 0 Member · 1 Post
  • Charles

    October 27, 2019 at 9:02 pm

    I have a tree farm. I have a website with an old fashioned style, but fairly good content. The farm is largely a Mom and Pop venture. I hire local high school kids to help, but I put in more hours than all of them together. I’m 45 minutes from the city of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. I don’t try to go head to head with the box stores. They are always going to beat me to death on price. Operation size: Currently I net about $30K/year on sales of 100 K/year. Inventory fluctuates between 400K and 600K I have several niches: Shelterbelt trees. For the acreage owner, “OMG I’ve got 10 acres of nothing!” “Trees big enough to miss with the mower, small enough to plant with a shovel” Edible landscaping. Where box stores carry 1 type of apple tree, I carry 7. Also plum, cherry, pear. Plus a raft of berry bushes Seedling sales. I bring in about 15,000 seedlings a year, and sell by mail all over western Canada during May. Ornamental trees. I carry a small selection of ornamental trees that I bring in at 6-8 foot trees for resale. Reclamation trees. Native species used mostly for naturalization and reclamation. These are mostly in 1 to 6 quart containers. Site visits: For a fee I will visit a customer and do a walk around, dumping ideas the whole time, giving advice on problem areas. Present marketing: Website. This is primarily an educational site to help people discover what’s possible, how to do it, what I have available (at least at some times of the year) Useful metrics to me: Time per session 7 minutes. Pages per session 3.5. Bounce rate 50% The site is Few customers know enough to buy online, so the focus of the website is to self teach, and then get them to email or phone me. Kijiji. I’m in Canada, and Kijiji is very different here than in the states. At any given time I usually have 20-30 ads on kijiji. During the off season, I only pay a cent per click. Max I pay is 5 c/click. About 3/4 of my customer’s initial contact is through kijiji. (I can tell where they came from by the email address they reach me at.) If you want to look at my ads, search for trees starting at Note the .ca domain. Google Local Business. I’m listed. I get some phone calls and some website referrals this way. I have an email newsletter, but writing it is hard, and so many other things get in the way. Things I’ve tried. Google adwords. I spent a thousand bucks a year for two years. Fortunately Google analytics allowed me to split out website organic search hits from adwords. Overall Adwords increased my web traffic by 10%. Writing good ads and keyword lists is hard. I decided to spend my efforts on writing content. Considered facebook, but I was unable to figure out how to target the specific potential customers I want. E.g. I want to write an ad targeting people with lake cottages. Or an ad targeting only people who have just built a new home. Or an ad that only targeted rural buy and sell groups more than 40 km from a major metro area within the province of Alberta. I was also unable to tell facebook that I only wanted to pay 10 cents a click. Newspaper ads. I ran a 2 col x 4″ ad in the three closest weeklies for 5 weeks. Got one phone call. Direct mail: Sent a flyer out to 2000 rural addresses. Got a single customer 2 years later. She had saved the flyer. Local coffee freebie. — Those 2-8 page things with community events, bad jokes etc. No results. Things to try: Town Post. Similar to kijiji, but will require more management if I want to run multiple ads, as I can’t keep an ad up permanently. TP seems to have a much stronger rural presence, and by default searches do the whole province, rather than the immediate town. Write a column for small town weeklies in exchange for a display ad adjacent to it. Be more consistent with my newsletter. Things I don’t think will work: Radio ads. The entry level is too steep. I hate radio ads at the best of times. From the sound of them they work only for car companies. What I see as obstacles: Most customers are coming in from a position of ignorance. They don’t know what they want. Education, whether on my web site, or one-on-one in the nursery is a huge part of sales. Trees are not like milk and lightbulbs. You don’t need more next week. People filter irrelevant ads until they need that product. – by hq overview SGBotsford – –

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