by Melissa Piper Nelson
Your local grocery store is the place to go when you need food. The antique store is a nice place to visit, but the big amusement park outside of the city is what many people know as the place to be.
Think about the places you put into those categories every day, and then compare that to business ventures. There are places we go because we need something, places to visit as they provide a special interest, and places that call us to go, stay and enjoy.

Marketing agricultural businesses and ventures runs along those same parallels. Some operations are content to announce their presence and allow the customer to decide if and when they wish to show up and possibly purchase a product or service. Other businesses make an effort to market the business in a way that attracts customers to visit and stay for a time. And, the longer the visit, the more apt the customer is to buy something.
Then there are the venues that make the destination the object of the customer’s interest. The theme becomes “there is a lot to do here, there is a lot to see here, come enjoy the wonderful things we offer and stay for a long time.”
Destination marketing has become the trend in tourism and is spilling over into direct marketing as well. The object is to promote the special benefits of the place, or business, and point out why a customer will want to stay and enjoy the amenities.
We have seen this evolve with hotels springing up near large specialty shopping outlets and water parks. When the customer has a lot to choose from in the way of entertainment, shopping, eating and lodging all in one place, the more comfortable it is to linger.
More direct marketers are adopting destination promotions either with their own venue or cooperating with other businesses. Farmers markets are working with other local merchants and entertainers to encourage visitors. Specialty food stores are locating in shopping venues that attract customers with coffee shops, movie theaters and children’s recreational spots. Agritourism operations benefit from nearby food outlets, craft stores and other attractions.
Creating the vibe that defines your direct marketing experience is how you can move from just being a place, to becoming the place to be. It goes back to understanding what is unique about your particular operation and why customers will want to visit and shop. This is the direct marketing link mentioned often as “selling the sizzle with the steak.”
Many local, regional and state tourism and visitor’s organizations create destination marketing experiences that draw visitors to a region. Joining these efforts allows you to be recognized in a wide circle and to cooperate with other regional businesses in joint marketing efforts. Some direct sellers choose to go it alone, or work with other like businesses and that is okay as long as you agree on how promotions will be handled and expanded to fit your ongoing marketing needs.
You are best when you understand the marketing strategies that blend well with your own operation. Some farm gate sellers are content with grassroots word-of-mouth promotion, while others wish to cooperate as a part of wider-scale marketing efforts. Customer feedback will guide you on what ways you may want to adapt and change strategies to capture the market share you are seeking.
The above information is presented for educational purposes only and should not be substituted for professional business and legal counseling.