Why and how to keep in touch with your guests even in the months you are not open for business
A typical Agritourism business will concentrate their marketing budget and efforts to those few weeks leading up to and carrying in to that primary Agritourism season. That marketing effort is critical to a successful season but is not the only marketing that should be taking place throughout the year.
This article will focus on those things you can do during the long off-season to keep your guests engaged and looking forward to when your doors are open again.
WHERE TO ENGAGE:
Social Media & Email
Hopefully you have been hard at work building up your social media followers and your email list. Stay in the mind of your customers even if you have nothing to sell that time of year. I recommend posting or emailing (ideally both) at least once a month during your off-season to make sure you stay in front of your customers.
Make it interesting! Do your best to be creative with your posts. Don’t just post a random quote or update on what you are doing, but make it about events or happenings at your farm that will appeal to a broad audience. Maybe post the announcement of a new baby animal born on the farm, or the dates of a special event you have planned for your season, or some other thing that is “news-worthy” and will remind your followers of what you do.
Make it interactive! The best way to get your followers engaged is by giving them something to do with that post or email in order to be part of that announcement. Here are some ideas:
Photo Contest where you ask for them to submit their cutest photo taken at your venue.
Get them involved in the naming of a newborn animal by having them vote on their favorite name.
Get them involved by having them vote for what you add or change for the upcoming season. Examples could be your theme, maze design, which activity they would like to see, new food items, and much more!
Increase the activity around your posts or emails by including some incentive for engagement such as a free ticket for the fall or T-shirt.
Look for opportunities to get your business involved in the community events. Here are some ideas:
Volunteer to be a guest speaker at your elementary school to talk about some farm related topic. Be sure to bring educational material with you for the kids that includes a coupon for your business in the fall. This keeps you fresh in the mind of the teachers and may open discussions for field trip business and some of those papers will make it home to the parents.
Look for opportunities to donate a basket for a local fundraising auction. A very low cost way to get your business visibility and help out a great cause at the same time.
Look for ways to donate your time or resources for other great causes. Maybe join an “adopt a highway” program, sponsor a hole at a charity golf tournament, grab your crew and volunteer for meals on wheels or at a shelter.
This type of involvement not only gives your business great exposure in your community at a very low cost but also is an avenue for you to give back to the community you live in.
Your off-season is a great time to work on building those strategic marketing partnerships. Here are some ideas:
Call other entertainment venues and see if they will engage in some cross- promotion. Places such as laser tag, bowling alleys, escape rooms, haunted houses, are a good place to start but the list is huge!
Talk to businesses that specifically offer complimentary services to what you do. If you offer a place to have a wedding ceremony, talk with wedding planners, dress shops, etc..
Talk to your direct competitors. I know – this one is a little scary but this can work very well, especially for haunted venues and corn mazes, as that clientele is looking to do several different venues in a season.
Spend some time in your off-season looking for more local and national websites and web directories to be listed in. There are dozens of directories out there for each type of venue. Start local to see if you can get on your town’s website or chamber of commerce, then work to the county and state level and beyond to the national lists such as www.agritourismworld.com. The more legit directories you are listed in, the easier you will be for people to find you and most are free to be listed.
Tune-up your Website
Be sure to take some time during the off-season to work on improving your Search Engine Optimization (SEO), checking your site for outdated content or broken links, and making sure your website is optimized for mobile devices. If your website is not optimized for mobile devices, i.e. it looks good and is easy to navigate on smartphones and tablets, then this should be high on your priority list. More and more people are now finding websites through their phones and tablets than from their computers.
There is a lot to do in your off-season to prepare for another successful year, but off-season marketing should be one of the things that is high on your priority list.