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The service provider the NMFMA has chosen to help us with this marketing effort is called FarmFan, and Simon Huntley, the owner, has developed the business specifically for market vendors and farmers' market managers.
During 2017 (and hopefully into the future) the NMFMA will pay for the service, so it is free to NMFMA members!
There are several ways to collect phone numbers - some of which involve your time, and some that don't.
The technology aspects are easy.
Your messages will say exactly what you want. You will be able to pre-schedule messages up to two weeks ahead of time, and will receive market day reminders to send out a message.
Here's more information from FarmFan:
STEP 1. Sign up for a free FarmFan account at http://about.farmfanapp.com. Again, the NMFMA will pay for this service for NMFMA members. When you sign up, FarmFan will notify the NMFMA so that your account is approved.
FarmFan uses real-time text messages to market customers to communicate with them at the exact moment when they are deciding to come to the market that day. The open rate for text messages is 97% within 3 minutes and it is not overrun with the same noise as email and social media so people actually read your message.
FarmFan can also help you build a loyalty and rewards system on top of that. This is both a reason for customers to give you their mobile phone number so you can communicate with them, but it is also a way to reward your best customers.
Reminder right before the market
If you do not schedule your FarmFan update ahead of time, the app will send you a reminder by text message two hours before the market starts. Then, simply respond to the text message to send your update. This means you can't forget to send your update for each market!
Send a photo along with text message updates
Optionally, include a photo with each text message. You can even take a picture on the go on at the market and send your update message with photo simply by texting it in to the FarmFan app!
You have many options to get your customers to sign for FarmFan: