As each season comes and goes, I hear about more farms opening their  elds to the public and inviting them for a u-pick or we-pick experience. This does not surprise me, because when done right, it’s an alternative method to help get berries off the bush and supplement income for the agriculture operation.

Like any part of agriculture, however, running a u-pick is its own animal and requires a lot of planning and marketing to draw the necessary crowds. Here at Central Florida Media Group, we often work with growers for their marketing needs, and there are a few observations I’d like to share.

IS YOUR FARM EASY TO FIND?

Is it off the beaten path, or close to a major highway? Does Google Maps get confused when you enter the farm address? Do you have farm signs that lead to the correct entrance? I visited one u-pick operation where the Google Maps said their city was different from the one they gave me. This caused confusion for me, and for a family with kids in the back seat, they might give up on  nding your farm before they reach it if it’s too difficult to find. Or, they might not come at all. How can you solve this? First, make sure your address is listed correctly on all the places people will find you (website, social media, and more). Also, check your farm’s listing on other online directories to make sure they are correct, such as the Florida Blueberry Growers Association, Fresh From Florida, etc. Next, make sure that Google gives the correct directions from major roads or highways. Finally, make sure you have adequate signage that leads guests to the farm entrance. Signage is especially important if you have more than one gate and want to control the flow of traffic, which will make for a more pleasant farm day experience for your guests.

IS YOUR WEBSITE HELPING OR HURTING YOU?

The expression that says “an old website is better than no website at all” is debatable. If your website is antiquated, clunky, contains expired information, or is not mobile friendly, this could really hurt your business. Back in 2014, marketing experts were already reporting that more people in the U.S. were using mobile devices over desktop computers to browse the Internet. And that number has only increased. What that means for you, is that if your website is not mobile-friendly or if it’s difficult to read because a person is using a tablet or smartphone, they might give up on trying to plan a trip to your farm. Making sure your website is functional, and contains the most recent information about your u-pick, is essential.

ARE YOU KEEPING YOUR VISITORS INFORMED AND COMING BACK?I’ve also observed that the most successful u-picks use the power of social media, newsletters, and blogs to keep their visitors informed and coming back. As you may have already experienced, weather and other factors can affect your u-pick hours on short-notice, meaning you need a way to update your guests as quickly as possible. When used effectively, social media, newsletters, and blogs can have a huge impact on increasing business, current customer satisfaction, and loyalty for future u-pick seasons.

I could go on, but this should cover some of the basics. I wish you the best during this year’s harvest, and if you have any questions about marketing your u-pick, don’t hesitate to reach out.

By CELESTE JO WALLS, Editor

celeste.walls@centralfloridamediagroup.com