Delaware Farm Bureau’s 24-week digital campaign to market the state’s specialty crops not only increased consumers’ awareness of the benefits of locally grown specialty crops but compelled them to put more Delaware-raised fruits and vegetables in their shopping carts.
The campaign spanned two years, running 12 weeks at a time, and was funded through a specialty crop block grant from USDA through the Delaware Department of Agriculture. Looking to connect with consumers in the digital space, Delaware Farm Bureau worked with iHeartMedia, which helped them create eye-catching images that were used on iHeartMedia’s social media platforms, web banners and on the app.
The ads were designed to make consumers more aware of where their food comes from and where they could buy fresh produce near them. Each of the 22 edible crops, like strawberries, eggplant and pears, were highlighted for one week. Christmas trees, the only non-edible farm product, were featured for two weeks.
Though this was digital and targeted toward a non-farming audience, the campaign also helped Farm Bureau connect with its members, according to Mikayla Paul, Delaware Farm Bureau’s marketing coordinator.
Members were excited to hear and see the literal fruits (and vegetables) of their labor being promoted. They also attributed a bump in sales at farmers’ markets and farm stands to the campaign’s extensive reach to 25,000 consumers, made all the more effective by iHeartMedia’s location-based targeting.
Delaware Farm Bureau also used the visuals created by iHeartMedia on their own platforms, including Facebook, Instagram and their website.
Via a weekly website-based survey, consumers answered questions about what they had learned about the featured product and whether they had bought that week’s featured product after hearing or seeing the ads. Consumers who participated in the survey had a chance to win a $100 gift card.
The overall survey results indicated 97% of consumers learned more about the crops Delaware Farm Bureau promoted. Ninety-five percent of the survey participants intended to eat more of the crops and 91% percent said they had eaten more of the particular crop that week after hearing or seeing an ad.
“We were very successful in communicating with consumers and teaching them about specialty crops, the benefits of eating them and where they could be purchased at local markets or farm stands,” Paul said.
This type of feedback is especially helpful to show USDA how well the grant was working, she added.
Over the two summers of the program, Paul and other Delaware Farm Bureau staff traveled to many member farms and farm stands. They let members know about the campaign and also shared photos from their visits on Facebook and Instagram, which helped the farmers get more social media followers and customers. Their posts contained information about the USDA grant and the featured farm and linked to a county-by-county list of farm stands throughout the state.
The campaign also included audio spots run on the iHeartRadio app and 94.7WDSD, a local iHeartMedia affiliate. As the spots included farmers representing each of 23 featured products, they were another way for Delaware Farm Bureau to engage with their members while connecting consumers with the people who grow their food – and Christmas trees.
Delaware Farm Bureau’s marketing campaign garnered the organization a 2022 New Horizon Award from the American Farm Bureau Federation. The award, which honors state Farm Bureaus with the most innovative new programs, is presented annually at the AFBF Annual Convention.