Check your local restrictions about marketing pre-made consumable products, before you start the venture so you know what you are allowed and not allowed to produce or sell to clients. Some areas are very strict, while some are extremely lenient, so you have to check your own state, city, county regulations to determine what you can or cannot do. A friend in the next state over may have no restrictions, while you may be prohibited, so check it out and never assume what goes in one state or county is acceptable or allowed in your own. And if you travel to sell your products, you must know the individual regulations for states, counties and city ordinances.
Craig's list is one way to advertise free, to reach a large audience within your region or state. There are many categories to choose from. If you have a Farmer's Salve or herbal blend, you may want to advertise under farms and livestock. If you'll be attending a local farm market you can let people know where to find you at that market, along with times and dates. Monitor the ads, and keep them up to date. Ads get old and stale so people quit looking at them unless you change them now and again with new and interesting photos and a little different text to attract and maintain interest. You may or may not want to include a phone number, email or refer them to your website or social media page for contact information. Just be wise, there are many scams through Craig's List, so don't fall victim to those that are less than honest.
Another niche may be an online store to sell your dried herbal products. To compete, you need to be unique. Theme based marketing tends to work well, so if you name your business something like mine, *Urban Spice*, (actually a play on words; herb and spice) then create a theme around that business name. *Sage and Roses* and *Craft Cottage* is yet another name used by a relative for their business. Sticking with a theme related to the name of the business, helps people remember who you are and products you offer. There are commission based online stores to look into such as Etsy and Ebay.
Social Media and Website:
Having a way to advertise will help keep your business in the minds of prospective clients. Having a Facebook or other media page and a user friendly website, will make it easier to market your goods either at farm markets or online and will help you establish a customer base without costs involved. There are a variety of free website options, so research until you find one that suits your needs and offers themes that are suitable for your unique business profile. Take good, quality photos of your creations, whether that is a container planting or a unique herbal preparation. Make up a portfolio that you can display at markets, especially if you can't manage to bring all your products with you or display all the products at once. Use those photos for your social media page and your website. Note, you can never have too many photos, the internet is visually driven, so no matter how much text you may write, it's the photos that make the most impact and make you memorable. If you keep a social media page and a website, make sure you proof read before posting. And make sure your text is understandable. Check your Auto-Correct feature, that is notoriously putting words in your mouth and they may not be words you intended to use at all.
Business cards can be something you've printed out, or there are online sources for inexpensive business cards that can be customized to meet your needs. Provide them with your products and have some available to hand out to friends, family and associates at the markets. Place some in a basket on the table display, so that even if someone doesn't make a purchase, they will have a way to contact you in the future. Though it is not essential to have business cards, it is an inexpensive way to advertise and a way for people to remember you. Some community boards at grocery stores, gas stations and restaurants allow you to place business cards and fliers, as another means of free advertising. If you do post business cards or fliers, remember where you posted them and check on them every few weeks and replenish as needed. If any look tattered replace them with fresh new ones. If the board you are posting on is exposed to the weather, replace them more often. Faded, curled ads will not get attention. Consider purchasing some inexpensive, clear shelf liner and cover the fliers or cards to protect them from the rain. Just stick it on both sides, and trim, for an inexpensive laminate. You can provide a business name, product line, and phone number, but unless you wish to invite people to your home, leave off the address, so people are not arriving at unexpected hours. If you routinely participate in a local market, you might wish to use that location on the fliers or business cards to direct people to your space or booth. if it is always in the same place.
Growing the plants is more fun than record keeping to be sure, but if you intend to grow a business, then record keeping is an essential part of that business. Even if you don't show a profit, you do need to keep record of expenses, such as for supplies you purchase and booth or space fees for the markets you participate in. Having records helps not just at tax time, but it gives you a gauge to go by to help control expenses, and a month by month visual so you can base your goals on what it is costing you. It will always cost more to get started, but you can keep expenses to a minimum if you actually know what you're spending in the first place. So keep the receipts and record expenses you may incur where a physical receipt may not be obtained. You can do this on a paper ledger or use a computer program for keeping track. Customize your ledger to suit your needs.
In line with record keeping, you should write down a business plan. This doesn't have to be elaborate, but it helps keep you focused on your intentions. Without a business plan, it's easy to go in all different directions that may make things more hectic in the long run and you'll lose sight of what your really wanted to do in the first place. As your business grows you may want to write a new business plan that allows for expansion, and more flexibility.
Disclaimer and Precautions:
You may need to label your goods as not tested or approved by the FDA and a disclaimer to use at your own risk, to prevent legal disputes for your own protection. Herbs are safe for most people in moderation, but may be unsafe for those with compromised immune systems, children or pregnant females, so it's very important to include your disclaimer if you do have an online store or attempting to sell through any/all media sources and local markets.
Word of Advise:
If you have a website, I have one word of advice, avoid pop up advertising, and keep any advertising to the sidebar of the page. It is annoying to me and many others when trying to read a post and an advertisement divides the text or pops up in the middle of what you're reading. Any advertising should not bog down the page when it's loading. So if there is any really sound advice I can give about creating a website this would be it. Many people will avoid any website that has click for pay advertising within the body of the text and you could lose potential clients because of that. I know you will lose my interest and I'm far from the exception. I also object to being redirected when I go to a website for a recipe or project, I expect that to be on the page I accessed, not a few words, then redirected elsewhere to view. It's okay to direct to related topics, but it's not okay to re-direct for the project that you are leading people to view. It's a quick way to lose potential clients when click baiting is used. Outside advertising helps cover time and expenses and that's an acceptable addition when it is tastefully done, but keep it minimal, and keep it in the side bar so it is not interfering with the subject matter that led others to your website in the first place.
A final note:
If you have not tried to sell anything in the past, it's wise to read a few marketing books related to your topic. As mentioned above do your research and know your product. The more you know about what you intend to sell, the more confidence your clients will have in you, your business and in your product.
When setting up your booth, or table display look around at others that are eye-appealing and model your display to be equally eye appealing. Prevent clutter or as much clutter as possible, so people can actually view what you have available. Offer samples if you have a salve, lotion or product you think is especially nice. Label everything clearly, and decorate tastefully. If you use a table cloth, make sure it hangs down to hide any materials you wish to be hidden, such as bags, boxes, etc. Make sure the tablecloth enhances the product, not take away from it. A bold tablecloth with large flowers, may make it difficult to even see what you are offering. Plain color that coordinates or contrasts with your product is a better option.
There's a lot to think about and a lot of research to do, but most of all this should be enjoyable to you. If you find that your efforts are too time consuming or tedious and laden with drudgery, then do some soul searching to see if this is really what you want to do. It's easy to get burned out if you are not enjoying the effort.
Additional related topics:
Refer to the link for creative ways to market your herbs:
Refer to the link for recycling and upcycling objects for containers:
Refer to the link to make your own Hypertufa containers:
Refer to the link to make your own potting soil:
Refer to the link to propagate herbs: justfowlingaround.weebly.com/pioneer-gardens/propagating-herbs
Refer to the link for making your own rooting hormone:
Refer to the link for Natural Garden Pest Control:
Refer to the link to make your own Green Manure fertilizer:
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CREDENTIALS: Certified Oregon State Master Gardener since 1998. Horticulture degree 2001. Study of Herbs and Horticulture Therapy, heavy research and continued study of all plants and herbs. Gardening a lifetime.