What's Behind a Successful Ad Campaign? A Look at What “Local” Really Means for the Columbia Farmers Market

We love working with local businesses and organizations right here in beautiful Columbia, MO – and partnering with the Columbia Farmers Market has been an awesome opportunity.

We beat out competitors to land a contract calling for a powerful ad campaign to promote CFM – and it's been an AWESOME opportunity to showcase our strength in original creative strategy – by creating a high-quality, effective advertising campaign that kicks butt. 👊🏻

Here's the big reveal!

Check out our original advertising for the Columbia Farmers Market –>


1. Strategy is where it starts

CFM's previous agency created their last campaign – "Food From Home." This was intended to communicate the fact that all products at CFM are produced within a 50-mile radius of Columbia, MO.

That's a huge point of difference for CFM compared to other local markets around the nation: various definitions of "local" food can include areas of a 400-mile radius – just check out some of the USDA info on what "local" means. Local? From 400 miles away?! 

Where the past "Food from Home" campaign falls short is in its mistake of focusing on the basic what of the farmers' market – stopping at the basic good they offer: food – instead of clearly tapping into the values, feelings, and motivations of the target audience from the get-go.

I cannot stress that enough.

All successful ad campaigns must pinpoint the target audience, not simply focus on the product itself.

In order to effectively target that audience, marketing must tap into that audience's essential, personal motivations with concrete messaging – rather than starting out with an ambiguous message that's not targeted toward speaking to an audience's motivations. Food from home? Like my personal home? Or, like, your home? What home are you talking about? Like those mashed potatoes my grandma always makes with sour cream?

Because, seriously, "Food from Home" taps into my memories of unpleasant casseroles. For another person, "Food from Home" queues up an entirely different set of thoughts and memories – and in all cases (at least in our test groups), none of those initial responses were to think of wholesome, farmer-grown produce. And, unfortunately, missing the mark in that initial message leads to a disconnect with "Food from Home" motivating an audience toward any clear action. 

We took a different approach.

Our campaign reaches beyond the basic what the farmer's market offers to tap into the feelings that motivate CFM's target audience to support the farmers' market. Our focus?

Local Means.

The core of our campaign is explaining what "local" really means – and not just in miles or numbers. What does local really mean for our community? For one farmer? For our kids, for your own child? For the future of mid-Missouri?

Advertising, marketing in Columbia, MO | Hoot Design Co.

What "local" really means reaches way deeper than just some stats on distance.

Buying from local farmers and producers means keeping extraordinary amounts of money right here, in our area.

Local means inspiring today's youth right here in mid-Missouri to see value in the traditions of agriculture that surround us.

Local means creating opportunities for our neighbors, and putting food in the mouths of our families.

Local means learning that the earth right beneath your feet is capable of growing new life – and tying our community together.



2. Original art direction

Local means growing our community – and to highlight that fact, we needed great original photography of real mid-Missouri families in their element at CFM and on family farms.

We worked with our fave guy, Drew Piester, to capture real Columbia, MO families enjoying the Columbia Farmers Market in a beautifully clear, crisp photojournalistic style. Capturing high-quality photos on-location makes a HUGE difference in bringing authentic, honest ad campaigns to life. And this campaign was no exception.

[Related: Why professional photography matters – big time]



3. Print Materials

Print is the OG marketing medium. And as much as we love social media marketing, we've gotta say, print's not dead. Especially in an awareness campaign focused on the local community coming together, distributing print ads around town has been a fitting and effective way to spread the word.


Posters: Local Means...

Posters: SNAP and WIC Match Programs



4. Social Media Marketing

Digital marketing allows you to reach your target audience with exceptional precision – and allows you to share your message in an organic way that grows and grows as your audience becomes engaged. (IF you do it right, that is!)

Beyond print materials, we've created social media campaigns for Columbia Farmers Market to run on their Facebook page and pull for their Instagram account. These focus on the same emotional pull that local has and use concrete examples of CFM activities and local farms in order to tap into audience values.


So what's really behind a successful ad campaign?

The answer: it's dynamic and multifaceted. It starts with a deep understanding of your audience's motivations. Knowing their desires, feelings, fears, and ideal lives. Bringing the values of a brand together with a strategic overview to get your message to the people you need to reach, in the manner that's best suited to reach them.

Working with the Columbia Farmers Market has been an incredible opportunity to broaden our horizons, push our skills, and grow out of our comfort zone while connecting with the community we love.

You can connect with CFM on their website, Facebook page, Instagram, and get regular news and updates through their email list. If you're in the mid-MO area, come turn out for weekly markets Thursdays and Saturdays May through October, and winter markets on Saturday mornings from December through March.

What do you think of our ad work? And what does local mean to you? Let us know by leaving a comment below or connecting with us on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter.

– 💖 💖 💖, HDco.

Hoot Design Co. is a marketing, branding, and design agency located in Columbia, MO. We specialize in creating a custom and comprehensive marketing strategy centered around your business's unique strengths and educating you with the tools you need from day one. From logo design to brand identity, website design and execution, and social media marketing strategies in-person and through online courseswe're focused on your business success every step of the way.

7 Important Tips That Will Improve Your Web Copy Right Now

We work with clients who have never written web copy before all the time.

And you know what? When you start out, it can be a struggle. 

The rules that you learned in school largely don't apply. Neither do your guidelines for proposals, presentations, research write-ups, etc., etc., etc.

So we're here to help you out. Here are our 7 best tips to improve your online writing ASAP

Let's dive right in.

Improve blog writing and web copy in 7 tips | Hoot Design Co.

1. Break up your paragraphs

When writing online, a big way you can help your reader out is by avoiding large blocks of text. Keep your paragraphs short – we're talking 3 to 4 sentences maximum.

Why? Your readers' eyes are getting tired.

Readers' eyes actually process information differently when they read on a screen. What might be a perfectly fine paragraph on paper is likely too long for your typical online reader. Online, readers' eyes actually start to tire when they're faced with big blocks of text.

So break it up!

2. Give your readers cues by using a visual hierarchy of text styles

Part of breaking up your text is calling out what's important using different levels of hierarchy.

[Related: This is how to finally understand elements of art]

One way to do this is to make sure your headings and subheadings give the right amount of emphasis: Heading 1 (h1) should carry the most weight – use it for page titles. Heading 2 (h2) should carry the second most weight – use it for article titles, and so on, all the way down to normal paragraph text, captions, and footnotes.

But go beyond just heading styles to call out important info.

Use bold and italics to get your point across. Consider using pull quotes or specially-styled blocks of texts – perhaps they have colored backgrounds or a different font – to pull out important snippets. 

This off-colored block of text is an example of one way we call attention to some text using visual hierarchy.

Keep in mind is that what might look tacky in print (um, as in lots of bold and italics, and bold and italics together) is actually helpful online.

3. Add images (because they're skimming everything else)

Remember how your readers' eyes get tired? Give them a break – and keep them engaged – by including images.

Ideally, these images are custom-created photos or graphics that reinforce your point. But you can take it a step further by including graphs or charts when you're dealing with data. Or by using the holy grail of all internet imagery – gifs – but only if they're on-brand for you.

Why include images?

Readers are notorious for skimming text online.

Images: totally the bomb for web copy and blogging.

Images: totally the bomb for web copy and blogging.

Readers' eyes move in an F-shape online. They take in the whole title, the intro, and often skim down the rest. But all of these techniques so far – breaking up paragraphs, using visual hierarchy, and including images – shake readers out of that big, long skim.

4. Mind your reading level

The type of writing readers expect online is different than the writing that's expected in more formal places. Readers online are used to shorter sentences with simpler concepts.

But all too often, people write in a stuffy, formal way online. Because that's how we were taught to write in school. As a result, sentences get way too long. Grammar gets way too complicated. And your communication ends up being way too complex.

We want to keep it simple and streamlined. Switch out long words for short ones, and break up those pesky sentences.

How? One great way to check if your copy may be too complex is to check its reading level. How easy is your text to read? 

Generally, you want to aim for around a 6th grade reading level when writing for the web.

I know that sounds low, but it's what many people expect online. Keeping your reading level in check helps you keep your text approachable. And as an added benefit, slimming down your words helps you maintain clarity and get to the point. 

Looking for help? I highly recommend using this handy readability tool to analyze your text. Also check out the passive voice detector on the same site. 

Check out the readability breakdown of this section of this blog post.

5. Avoid unnecessary jargon

Jargon sucks.

Unless you're in an extremely specialized field and speaking only to an audience of your (extremely specialized) peers, jargon is unnecessary. 

So don't use it! Switch out complicated terms and acronyms for words more people understand. Goodbye, jargon.

The exact expression your readers have when you won't cut the jargon.

The exact expression your readers have when you won't cut the jargon.

6. Restate to reinforce

This one's pretty straightforward. If you KNOW readers are going to skim your copy, how can you make sure they take something away? 

State your main point again. And then again. And again. (In different ways!)

Readers SHOULD be able to pick up your argument without it being broken up into tiny bites. That's what we expect in any more formal setting. But once again, on the interwebs, take that extra step to make sure your readers are really getting it.

If that sounds weird, try this trick: After every example you give to illustrate a point you're making, go out of your way to tie that example back to the main concept. Circle back again and again to reinforce what you're saying.

If you printed your text and read it aloud, it would probably sound pretty repetitive. But online, that simple repetition can make a big difference to your easily distracted readers.

Yep, you've got to deliver your main point. Again. And again. And again.

Yep, you've got to deliver your main point. Again. And again. And again.

7. Always tie images in

This one's pretty simple: Images are great. But they can really suck out without context.

Readers don't like to be confused. So if your image doesn't fit in seamlessly, use captions! Captions help readers quickly understand the point you're illustrating. Plus, captions provide additional information for vision-impaired viewers who may be using a screen reader. Helpful stuff. 😀

Do you have other strategies to improve your web copy?

I'd love to hear them. Leave a comment below, or reach us on Twitter @hootdesignco.

Hoot Design Co. is a marketing, branding, and design agency located in Columbia, MO. We specialize in creating a custom and comprehensive marketing strategy centered around your business's unique strengths and educating you with the tools you need from day one. From logo design to brand identity, website design and execution, and social media marketing strategies in-person and through online courseswe're focused on your business success every step of the way.