Internet sites are becoming an increasingly important part of the hay-marketing program at Flynn Farms of Kentucky near Louisville. “It’s a low-cost way to reach a lot of potential buyers,” says Mark Flynn, who farms in partnership with his father, Ron.
The Flynns grow fescue, orchardgrass, orchardgrass-alfalfa, timothy and alfalfa on 400 acres. In a typical year, they put up 15,000 small square bales weighing around 55 lbs and 1,000 round bales weighing 900 lbs. They market to horse owners within 75 miles of the farm, but also sell throughout the Southeast.
For local sales, Craigslist is the marketing site of choice. “We decided a few years back to try to market as much of our hay as possible close to home,” explains Flynn. “By doing so, we figured we could cut down on the liability that goes along with having trucks out on the road. And it would give us more time to be out in the field making hay.
“Louisville, Lexington and Indianapolis are all within easy driving distance, so we place ads on the Craigslist sites serving each of those areas. We’ve gotten a very good response. Best of all, it doesn’t cost us anything to place the ads.”
Flynn also uses Craigslist in researching the hay market. “You can go on to the sites for a particular city, check all the listings and get a pretty good idea of what the hay availability is in the area and what other growers are charging for their hay.”
Checking in with the site from time to time also helps him stay on top of industry trends. “This year we’ve noticed more growers in Kentucky and Tennessee are advertising Roundup Ready alfalfa. That caught our attention, because we planted 20 acres of it last fall. We feel like it will give us better weed control. That’s always a concern in this part of the country.”
To market farther afield, Flynn relies on The Hay Barn. “From what we’ve seen, it looks like a lot of racetracks and large stables in the Southeast make use of the site to locate hay supplies. That’s a market we’re interested in.”
The Hay Barn site charges sellers based on how long listings are posted. Flynn usually lists for a month at a time for $9/month. “Considering how much reach you get with the listing, it’s really not very much money at all. One good sale will pay for quite a few listings.”
A Kentucky Department of Agriculture Web page listing tested hay for sale in the state is another marketing option. Buyers can search the site by type of hay, bale type and size, county and RFV range.
Flynn frequently uses his iphone to take photos of hay for sale and post them on the state site. “We want people coming to us. If they have a chance to see the hay first in a couple of pictures, that’s more likely to happen.”
Their Internet marketing strategy is continually fine-tuned. Flynn’s currently developing a plan to use social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter to reach more potential customers. “Twitter looks especially promising. Once you build up a list of contacts who are using the technology, you can get information on what you have for sale out to them almost immediately. These are great tools that we should be using more.”
To contact Flynn, call 502-664-6032 or email markflynn@firstname.lastname@example.org.