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No free lunch – Part 2 Deploying The [NEW] Guiding Principle.

The [NEW] Guiding Principle. You can’t make money unless people get onsite, but they are ready to spend once they arrive.

In Part 1, “Back on your game,” we reviewed how the Free Lunch of marketing due to artificial scarcity is over. We have to get back on our marketing ‘game’ and promote like it’s 2019 all over again.

Part 2 Deploying The [NEW] Guiding Principle.

You can’t make money unless people get onsiteThe driving goal is to get people through the door. DUH, right? It goes a bit deeper on three focused levels.

Focus #1: Differentiation.

My buddy John Schallert, who runs an excellent workshop, Destination Bootcamp, posits that for small businesses to compete with marketing dollars from large corporations, small businesses must focus on a singular reason why guests should visit.

The small business must create something unique. It’s more critical to be different than throwing money at the next FB Campaign.

Sally Hogshead says, “Different is better than better.”

We’ve all had it happen at some point. An attraction, a flower field, a picture, a video, a baby animal day – the reach and shareability of an idea or post just took off.

Whatever caused it was probably a unique feature or perspective that captured the public’s attention for a fleeting, beautiful, profitable moment.

While that’s ‘neat-when-it-happens,’ what if you invested time and attention to make it happen? Those efforts could be enough to break through the cluttered media world long enough to sell your event’s tickets, drive bakery traffic for your crazy donut, to upsell combo tickets for your new slide.

What is your unique feature, attraction, bakery product, hayride, or experience for 2023 that is so different people can’t help but talk about it?

Focus #2: Make like an apple tree and branch out.

I caught myself too late in the season. Specifically, I caught myself doing it too late, by date, in the season. I was recycling ads.

Don’t get me wrong, our radio ads have been requested as ring tones, sung at the check-in counter, and people have emailed us to “Please stop running the ad. I can’t get it out of my head!”

But still, I was recycling. For the past four years, I’ve repeatedly reprinted our exact old schedules and the same old campaigns expecting new and different results.

Einstein, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results.”

If you want something different to happen now that we are back to 2019-style marketing, you’ll have to try some new things.

I recommend you take your marketing budget, dedicate 70-80% to the things you know are working, then use the remainder to try something new. It could be Snapchat, a new radio station, a postcard to past ticket buyers, text marketing, or anything! It just has to be NEW to your business.

Focus #3: Traffic at [nearly] any cost.

Great news: No coupon, offer, or deal will be utilized by every guest visiting your farm. That means you are free to do whatever promotions you want, and the more promotions, the merrier!

[one caveat: You MUST have prices high enough to do promotions and not restrict your revenue. i.e., it is $25 to walk up to our Sunflower Festival, but everyone can get a better deal online in advance. Advance purchase counts as a promotion.]

Any guest at [nearly] any cost to acquire this year will move things forward IF…

*The [NEW] Guiding Principle. You can’t make money unless people get onsite, but they are ready to spend once they arrive.

Research studies from, Expedia & US Travel Foundation, travelers are ready to splurge on spending once on a vacation or trip to make it exceptional.

A key success point in 2023 is purposefully creating up-sells, food options, adding alcohol (if you can/want to), and signature items that get guests spending onsite.

At the NAFDMA ALR, we learned from Wickham’s that guests would pay $12 for a plastic mug with cider slush, soft serve, and a donut.

We came home, made a $12, wine-spiked, fresh-squeezed lemonade ($7, with no wine), and tracked the per-cap spending. Any event we offered those lemonades was worth $4.41 per attendee in per capita spending.

Remember that admission tickets for those events were typically $12-$16, so spending increased by 25-30% due to ONE signature item.

Here’s a crazy idea: What if you don’t need to grow attendance? What if you just need an additional $3-5 from each guest? Run the math in your head, then determine how many more guests you’d need to create the same benefit.

Keep in mind that any increase in attendance comes with parking, check-in, and, most importantly, convincing.

The hardest thing to do in 2023 is to convince people to visit in the first place! (Hence the end of “The Free Lunch” we discussed in Part 1.)

What do you think? What are you planning, and how are you setting goals for 2023? How are you budgeting for 2023?

I’d love to hear from youand I hope this aids your season planning process. 2023 is going to be a dogfight from start to finish. I hope you prep to WIN!

Have a great week,


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