Your Backyard Egg Sales (Marketing and Branding)
A quick disclaimer: Please research your county/city ordinances and all applicable tax codes before creating your own backyard sales plan.
Every year, they pop up like little beacons of an early spring - you've seen them, in fact, you may even own one: a fold-out sign advertising that your hens are back in business! "Eggs for Sale!" "Farm Fresh Eggs Sold Here!" Or, as one of our neighbors down the street puts it "Range Eggs $4.50" - I have a sneaking suspicion she doesn't call them "Free Range" because people thought the eggs were actually "free!"
However you choose to get the word out, selling eggs is, indeed, on many chicken owner's minds. Some of us want to subsidize our hobby, some may just want to "break even" with the feed bill, and some may even desire to make a small profit from their enterprise. Whatever your goals, effectively marketing your product can help you achieve them.
When our family decided it was time to take the plunge into backyard poultry land, chicken math got the best of us. We went from "Oh, we just want to get a few birds because our house came with a ready made coop and fenced acreage on which to pasture them" to "I can easily add three more coops and fully enclosed pens." My husband laughingly chided me, "What are you going to do with all the eggs!? We're going to be over run with them!"
I took my husband's chiding as a bit of a challenge. I needed a plan. When the girls out back began to lay, I wanted to make sure those eggs would not just be piling up in my refrigerator. The first question I asked myself was - what makes my eggs better than the ones in the store? Pretty much every household uses eggs, so why should they switch to mine? As every backyarder knows, the public must be educated about the value of non-commercial egg production. So, I began a blog and turned my friends and family its direction in order to begin the conversation. I understand that writing is not an enjoyable hobby for everyone, so one might start by simply emailing friends and family about your endeavors, and perhaps posting some articles on social media about the benefits of eating free range eggs, or the humane practices and excellent health care employed by backyard flock owners.
My next step was to consider the name of my enterprise. There are some absolutely amazing names for small scale chicken "farms" and I may have researched every last one of them! Some were cute and endearing, some were straight forward, and some were full of great puns. I asked myself, "What message do I want to convey in my title?" We settled on "Little Ranchland Farm" because I wanted people to know we are a small enterprise, but that we take our chicken farming seriously - "Ranchland" is simply the name of our street.
Once we had our name and our purpose, and even before our chickens were laying "sellable sized" eggs, I cut dozen egg cartons in half and made "pullets packs" as free gifts to folks who had expressed an interest in becoming regular customers. I had quite a few used (but clean) egg cartons, but felt there needed to be a way to identify them as "ours" so I created a flyer to rubber band to each pack. Our flyers are half sheets of 8-1/2x11 paper with our logo, phone number and blog site on the front and an article, chicken biography, or funny chicken story on the back. When I gave my first pullets packs away, I encouraged feedback, but also reminded them that they were in for such a treat with that little box of gems!
The toughest part of marketing my own product is the "ask." I had the strategy all set up, I just needed to ask folks if they wanted to begin weekly purchases of our eggs. Why was this so difficult? Not being a salesperson at heart, I had to remind myself that I actually provide a service that people need and want. If they said "no" it was their loss, not mine. So, I asked.
Currently, I have as many weekly dozen deliveries as my hens can fill the boxes for. If I ever have extras, I give my customers or neighbors a call and they generally scoop them up. I print up a new story for my flyer every week, and have great responses to this little bonus. One client doesn't want the cardboard boxes (she gives me a plastic container to fill) but she said, "I still want the stories!"
Creating your own "brand" for your egg sales really just requires you to be you! Think about your own flock, the message you want to convey, and your most comfortable means for conveying it. You love that group of chatty, goofy gals out back, and their amazing eggs - now it's time to convince every one else!
Oh, and by the way, mornings at our house often include my husband asking, "Are there any eggs left for me?"