Blog Post

Part 1: What I Learned at NAFDMA 2020

The utterly brilliant Bus 2 Crew pictured here at the Angel Tree, one of the largest, longest living trees in America.


Hey, Friends,

Sorry I’m late! I love to recap the conference, but it’s been a bit crazy with our Sunflower Mastermind Groups starting up. (SIDENOTE: Why do I LOVE the Mastermind concept and dedicate so much time to it?! Well, in the last week, our 2nd meetings, we created a NEW festival pricing structure that should lift Sunflower Festival admission revenue by 8-15%! That’s the power of the group – good ideas come from everywhere, though the Mastermind teams are closed now for 2020.)

Anyway, I digress, but I do get excited about pricing 🙂 On with the blog…

Lessons from NAFDMA, the International Association for Agritourism convention in 3 parts.

  1. Your marketing image is entrapping you
  2. Wine, beer & food veto the “Parent Veto”
  3. Menus, food costs & quality drive profitability

I never miss this convention, OK I missed ONE, but it was due to the birth of my daughter back in 2002. The reason is that this gathering of movers and shakers is the place to get inspired, find new ideas, and, lately, the place for critical tweaks to an ever-changing experience economy.

Part 1 – Your marketing image is entrapping you.

Randy White’s presentation on Mega-Trends offered a look from 30,000 feet into the trends driving leisure time and spending. (I was in the Sunflower Panel discussion, but got to listen through my NAFDMA member benefits page later. Did you know you could do that?)

As a marketing-focused person, the first point he makes that hit me was that your marketing image, and the images you use in marketing, might be entrapping you to a shrinking market.

We all know that families with kids, mainly focusing on the moms, are a prime demographic for Fall Harvest events. Randy’s point is that the families-with-kids market is, at best, not growing, by some predictions, it is shrinking as a demographic.

This focus on the shrinking ‘mom demographic’ means that as an agritourism industry, we are going to be pouring more money into attracting a bigger slice of a shrinking pie if we continue to focus exclusively on families with kids as our only market.

Your image could be holding back growth available in another marketing segment. Take an inventory of your website, Instagram, brochures, radio ads, and other media and see what images you have been choosing.

Are you showing little kids in every shot? Tots on slides? Moms eating packed lunches with kids at picnic tables?

If you are, Randy suggests that you are sending a clear message that adult leisure visitors might not be welcome or at least might not have much to do at your business.

That’s the kiss of death. If your image says, “Nothing for your demographic here,” then likely you have closed your access to those potential visitors.

The Fix

Randy has some suggestions, and I’ll add a few as well based on our past marketing history.

Change up your marketing images.

Purposely feature guests from all ethnicities, age groups, and backgrounds in your marketing. This task can be as simple as digging through your photos to find pictures of different people.

My buddy Amir once said, “The people are all purple, and the money’s all green.” Feature African, Jewish, heavily tattooed, gay, straight, Hispanic, and EVERYBODY ELSE!

Who cares? Be the most welcoming place, and you’ll likely welcome the most people. (P.S. Please don’t claim “religious beliefs” prevent you from welcoming certain people to your business. At least in my religion, we’re to welcome everyone, then love and care for each person as if they were a brother or sister.)

Consider how adults will interact with your next attraction.

Our indoor playground is for kids. Our corn box is for kids. Our next big attraction is for EVERYONE.

We are installing the Super Mega Ride-N-Slide, a first in the agritourism space, and it is for everyone. We’d recommend that any new attractions, particularly capital projects, be not only usable by adults & kids, but FUN for adults and kids. We are going to charge extra for this attraction, so it must be available to the broadest swath of visitors possible – not just kids. (You can find out more about the )

Shift marketing resources.

We discovered quite by accident years ago that a Hispanic Church group drove our biggest pick-your-own days in the apple orchard. It was always a mystery until 40 to 50 cars plus two church vans would start streaming into the farm market parking lot.

After being completely overrun two years in a row, we realized that we needed to shift some resources. We connected with the pastor who organized the trips, and now they call ahead to let us know the church’s arrival dates so we can prepare.

Look around at your attendance. Review some video footage. Sift through some previous season pictures and find the demographic groups who are already visiting your business, then target them specifically.

  • If you have a sizeable Jewish population close by, plan special hours for Sukkot. If you see African-American attendance increasing, Plan social marketing campaigns specifically to welcome more. If immigrant Russians are picking large quantities of berries, consider hiring a translator to make your advertising relevant. If you see Millienial-aged women snapping pictures in your sunflower field but no children in sight, use images of ‘girl day out’ in your marketing.

With the tools at your disposal, targeting specific groups is easier than ever. Maybe the growth in attendance you need will come from a group of people who just need a little encouragement from your marketing, from your images, to feel at home visiting your business.

More soon in Part 2.

Have a great week,


Looking for Agritourism Products?

Maize Quest brings mazes, games and interactive marketing to your farm, so you can grow your profits. All products are tested at our home farm over the last 20 years The Maize Quest Corn Maze & Fun Park at Maple Lawn Farms in New Park, PA.

Maize Quest designs corn mazes, and provides much more to corn maze clients.

With one package, you get a high quality corn maze from Designer Dave Phillips [Who’s Dave? ]

And that’s just the beginning. Our package program creates the maze, GPS cuts it, creates the games and worksheets for guests to use inside the maze – we’ll even help you plan your site, pricing, marketing and additional attractions.

If you like reading these blogs, then you’ll likely enjoy working with us.

CLICK To Learn More About Using Maize Quest for your corn maze this year.

Related Posts