You’ve spent countless hours tapping trees and facing the frigid Northeast air for your maple syrup. You collected your sap, but what comes next?
With all the new technology now, it’s hard to figure out what works and what doesn’t in regard to marketing your maple business. Social media and the online world can lead you down a rabbit hole but all you have to do is know how to navigate it and use it to your advantage.
Basics of Marketing
After collecting your sap, test it according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) classification standards and grade, according to the Penn State Extension. For example, if the producer lives in Pennsylvania, then they will most likely be examined by a department inspector.
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When selling, the grade level must be visible on the container along with the business name and contact information visible, according to the Penn State Extension.
Dwayne Hill is the Catskill Delegate in the Executive and Legislative Committee of the New York Maple Producers Association. He also was born into the maple syrup business from his time with Shaver-Hill Farms in Harpersfield, New York.
According to Hill, the first step of marketing your maple syrup is to produce a good quality product. Then, get local neighbors and friends to try it out. From there, you will get more and more customers.
“The Association tries to educate consumers on why maple syrup is better than table syrup,” Hill said. “Store-bought syrup has high fructose corn syrup and there are many health benefits to using real maple syrup.”
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Hill said that ever since real maple syrup was named a super food in February, it had boosted their sales on the farm. There could be obstacles along the way, whether it be through trial and error or just roadblocks.
“Our biggest obstacle would be the cost of shipping,” Hill said. “We ship by weight and maple syrup is not light. It’s challenging to find the cheapest ways to ship products. Shipping hinders but we have a lot of walk-in traffic, too.”
What are my marketing options?
Marketing via social media or your own business website can help exponentially. Using social media to your advantage can bring in new customers, especially the young ones, and can help establish your brand.
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Using websites like Facebook and Twitter can increase your chances of being found. People can “like” your business page and “follow” the business page on Twitter, and from there, you can update each page with hours, sales or anything business related to help generate and bring in more people and sales.
If Facebook proves helpful, an option to promote each post and putting in a few dollars can boost sales exponentially and help get your ad to the top of your fans’ news feeds.
A lot of marketing was done by word-of-mouth at Shaver-Hill Farms.
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“We then got a webpage and started advertising on Facebook,” Hill said. “My daughter is a website designer and she takes care of it for us and keep it up-to-date. We have over 1,670 fans on Facebook and see a lot of younger people coming in.”
Business has improved because of social media and online marketing, according to Hill. He makes sure the farm firmly places a premium on the consumer.
“We see a lot of online orders from all over the world. You wouldn’t get those orders advertising locally. We’ve even shipped maple candy to the South Pole!” Hill said. “Remember that 99 percent of the time, consumers are always right,” Hill urged. “If something isn’t right, I would tell them to bring the product back and we’ll replace the product.”
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