Earned Media Project

In 2017, FMC will collaborate with a national marketing firm, Integrated Market Solutions (IMS), to train state network leaders in Virginia and Washington D.C. to plan and implement a content marketing strategy, using authentic data generated at markets within their respective networks, funded by a 2016 Farmers Market Promotion Project (FMPP) grant.

How, in a marketing environment rife with misleading claims of “locally grown,” is a farmers market to differentiate itself? Consumers need to be made aware of, and be continuously reminded of the unique benefits of shopping at the farmers market if they’re to transition from occasional farmers market shoppers, into regular customers.

Luckily, media outlets already feature farmers markets with some regularity. Chefs, politicians, actors, lifestyle bloggers, and other public figures often post stories, updates and photos from local farmers markets. These posts currently serve as free, low-impact promotions. The industry calls this type of user generated online content “earned media,” and it is widely accepted as the most trusted form of advertising (a Nielsen survey found that 84% of respondents across 58 countries said this source was the most trustworthy). Earned media is especially effective with millennials. Of the 76 million millennials in the U.S., 63% say they stay updated on brands through social networks.
Markets need to be collecting consistent, reliable data on their markets in order to create authentic, informative content to share with customers and other stakeholders. Through a variety of research projects, and an FMPP project from 2014, FMC created a set of tools and training materials that empower market managers to collect, analyze and share data on the impacts of their markets. The pilot markets who use these resources, collectively called Farmers Market Metrics, will have data on the economic, health, social, and ecological impacts of their market, messages that place that data within the context of the broader American food system, and graphics to engage the viewer further into the data. Farmers Market Metrics markets in this project will be trained to feed content into a statewide and national content marketing strategy during this project.