Don’t get me started on what industrial agriculture and mega-processing is doing to our food and health. Read Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food and keep investigating this matter. That said …
I’m an avid customer of my local farmer’s market, on email distribution for a couple of the farmers, who I can advance order from, and for the market organization overall, that sends me little newsletters about what’s fresh this week.
Last week I get an email from my West End Farmers Market, asking me to vote for them for the America’s Favorite Farmers Market(tm) contest. The subject line: We need your help! They say they’re already ranked high and ask me to help them be #1 in Virginia.
That’s the “vote” part of this. I say “cool” and click through to vote for West End.
Then the “Survey” part: On the vote page I’m asked to write a brief statement about why this is my favorite market. “Cool” says I again, I love shopping this market twice a week, love the people etc and write a glowing review.
When I click to submit my vote and survey, I’m delivered to the “Fundraising” page — a very straightforward gift form asking for a donation. This page still has the Favorite Market contest branding but tells you upfront that the ask is for something called the American Farmland Trust. The default gift is set at $50, with a $35 minimum and a call-out that I’ll be sent a canvas shopping bag as thanks for any gift of $35 or more.
I was not familiar with American Farmland Trust. But here I was a fully qualified prospect for them. I was on an email file because of engagement with my local farmers market. I was further primed by the opportunity to make my commitment concrete by writing a testimonial. I was put in a position to really engage in the mission of the market … and by close association with American Farmland Trust. And then I was presented with a specific ask, plus a premium offer.
This is great direct marketing! The ask site could have done a better job of selling the organization and its mission. But it worked fine because it had good navigation to the American Farmland Trust website, which was chock full of credibility points … been in operation for thirty years, very current news items, clear explanation of their multiple missions which start with protecting farmland from encroaching development but extend to environmental issue and, my key shared passion: the whole farm-to-table movement.
How could you use “vote” in your communications? Your favorite yoga class at the YMCA? A favorite among any aspects of your mission.
Then ask donors this one question “survey”: Why is this your favorite?
You’ve then primed this already engaged donor for the ask.
Not incidentally, I live in Richmond Virginia, which has five farmers markets that I know about, maybe more. West End was #3 in Virginia last I looked, with more than 200 votes. Look at results nationwide and you’ll see that this is all a marketing/fundraising endeavor. I know about large and popular markets far and wide, Brooklyn NY to Brigham City UT, that have plenty of customers and fans. These markets just aren’t yet on board with marketing.
Oh, and I did give American Farmland Trust $50 and will pay attention to their efforts moving forward.