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How To Make More Money Off Of Your Christmas Tree Farm

It’s that time of year again. With Thanksgiving now behind us, people are in the holiday spirit, which means it is peak Christmas tree season.

However, Christmas trees come with a unique set of complications. It’s a crop that’s only sold once a year, the trees take a lot of money and effort to transport, and use up a ton of land. Christmas trees have one of the smallest time frames for buying and selling of any crop, even though they can take up to eight years to reach maturity.

Despite all of that, Christmas trees are still a lucrative crop and bring in steady holiday money to big and small farms alike. If you’re interested in learning how to make more money off of your Christmas tree land, read on.

  1. Make Low-Cost Adjustments to Get Better Trees

Just like how people will pay more for beautiful flowers or huge, juicy strawberries, you can make more money off of good-looking trees. There are some tricks you can use in the early stages of the tree’s life to increase its value. If you make adjustments in the soil that your trees are growing in to get the right PH balance and moisture level, your trees will be much heathier and better looking. Also, keep up the habit of shaping your Christmas trees. Cutting away at dead and gnarled branches every year helps to give the trees that beautiful conical shape that everyone loves. It might seem tedious, but the results will be worth it.

  1. Grow the Most Popular Types of Trees

Some varieties of Christmas trees sell better than others. The Fraser Fir is the most popular type of Christmas tree because of its wonderful scent and classic Christmas tree look. But some places prefer different types of trees. The Eastern Red Cedar is popular in the South because its natural cone-like shape doesn’t require much maintenance. The White Fir is popular in California for its needle retention. Look up the sales for your region in the last year and invest in the type of tree that is selling best to maximize your profit potential.

  1. Consider Pick Your Own/Cut Your Own

Pick-Your-Own sections have their pros and cons. On the pros side, it’s a great draw for a fun family day out, you can charge more for Pick-Your-Own trees than for regular trees, and people will stay on your property longer, which means they have more time to purchase your produce. However, having people linger on your property can also be a downside. People can wear down your land and cause damage to your crops. If your land is used to lots of visitors, then Pick-Your-Own could be an option for you. If not, consider having your Pick-Your-Own section far enough away from the rest of your crops so that customers don’t damage them. If it’s too late in the season to re-locate your Pick-Your-Own section, invest in plenty of fences and signs to keep people from wandering where they shouldn’t.

  1. Advertise, Advertise, Advertise!

If you haven’t started advertising yet, you should start as soon as possible. Most people buy their Christmas tree shortly after Thanksgiving, so you want to get the word out about your trees soon. And with people shopping for Thanksgiving and getting a head-start on their Christmas shopping, this is the perfect time to invest in a billboard ad. Since there is a time frame around how long you can sell trees and how long people will want to buy them, you’ll want to use this time to get the word out to as many people in your area as possible. Get creative! Use flyers, radio ads, newspaper ads, whatever you can think of.

  1. Don’t Cut Down All Your Trees at Once

Even though they are famous for their ability to withstand droughts, Christmas trees dry out after being cut down faster than you’d think. The trees start to lose moisture as soon as they are chopped down. Dehydrated or dying Christmas trees lose their needles and turn brown, which can turn potential buyers away from your property. So, instead of having lots of pre-cut trees out for display, only have a few trees on display and replace them as they are bought. A great way of keeping track of when to cut down trees is by taking pre-orders. This way, you can cut down the tree the day the buyer gets there instead of leaving it out to dry.

  1. Market What Makes Your Trees Unique

What makes your tree lot stand out from everyone else’s? Are your trees organic? A popular or unique type of pine tree? Is it a family-run ranch? Pick-Your-Own? Each of these is a great selling point for your advertisements. Also, if your trees have been grown with specific traits (needle retention, doesn’t need much upkeep, beautiful smell, extra-large, etc.), be sure to mention those, too.

  1. Give Your Trees the Spotlight on Social Media

Does your farmland have a website, blog, Facebook page, or Instagram? Put up some pictures of your best Christmas trees. This is an easy, free way to show off your produce. You can also put up pictures of the trees growing and the harvesting process so that potential buyers can get an insight into how the trees are taken care of (for more about immersive online farm tours, check out this article). If you’re looking for inspiration, check out websites like Texas Christmas Tree Farms and Peltzer Pines Christmas Tree Farm.

  1. Have Other Goodies Out to Buy

When people come to your farm, it’s the perfect time to show off your produce. You can sell home baked goodies (gingerbread is a holiday favorite!), hot chocolate or cider, winter crops, holly, and mistletoe. But why stop at produce? People love to buy unique gifts for their loved ones during the holidays, so consider selling things like homemade jewelry, baked goods, wood carvings, and more next to your Christmas .

Christmas trees can be a tricky crop, but with plenty of preparation and a marketing plan, you can make more money off of your Christmas tree farm.

5 Ways to Maximize Your Listings

This article was originally featured in the 2016 Summer Edition of the Institute’s Terra Firma Magazine.

I have seen a lot of amazing property listings under-perform or flat out fail from a lack of understanding how to best represent them online. Most of these tips apply to advertising property in any medium- digital or print, but will serve you particularly well online. In our increasingly digital world, there is a lot of noise that can drown out your listing, but with these easy steps, you can stand out and drive buyer interest and leads like never before. Here are my top five tips for how to maximize your online property listing.

  1. Completing Everything
    It should go without saying, but a complete listing and profile is essential. The property should be mapped accurately; titles and descriptions filled out completely; a generous number of photos uploaded; but also, pay attention to the smaller stuff. Things like categories and property types can have a big influence on who sees your property and where it shows up in searches. Often these modifiers work as filters, so if your farm isn’t tagged as a ‘farm’, it won’t show up in a ‘farm’ search. You could be missing out on a massive amount of property searches by leaving these blank.Same with property features like house size and bedrooms. Even if it isn’t the property focus, some buyers will be happy to know there is a habitable structure on the property. Water availability, utilities, property access, proximity to a town, etc. should be addressed if not obvious, and often even if it is. At a minimum, when there is a text box to fill out or drop down to select while creating your listing, you should be entering information into it.
  1. Picture it
    You want your listing to impress the pants off of people, no matter the property. The best way to get an initial response is through great photos. You generally see a two to three times greater response rate from listings with professional photos because they capture people. I’ve seen a weedy lot with a decrepit structure transformed into a landscape you would want to hang on your wall. You don’t want to deceive buyers, but you do want to represent it in the best possible way. If a professional photographer isn’t in your budget, read up on how to take better pictures. All photos should include a focal point such as a structure, fence, tree, lake, livestock, or even a flower. Look at your photos. If you don’t like your photo, neither will a buyer.The technology landscape is changing. Aerial photography and video is becoming more common thanks to drones. 3D tours and street-view technology has made its way into real estate. Mapping technology can orient you to the property terrain and features. All of these technologies are improving the way we tour a property remotely and adding some flash and excitement, but really it is about experiencing the property through a computer or mobile device as if we were physically there.
  1. Reading vs. Experiencing
    The title and description of a listing are nearly as important as photos because they frame the image of the property and fill in the gaps. Think of the photos and title as a hook, and the description as a line- you aren’t going to catch a fish without both.The title should be descriptive and evocative at the same time. The interested buyer isn’t physically at the property, so they need to experience it through your words and photos. What are the properties main features or resources? ‘Elk hunter’s paradise’, ‘mountainous’, ‘vistas’, ‘wilderness’, ‘fertile’. What does the property ‘feel’ like? Use descriptors like: ‘tranquil’, ‘remote’, ‘vast’, and ‘sweeping’. Be creative and come up with your own that fit the property. These words will help form an emotional connection with buyers beyond just seeing a piece of land. Use language and phrases that will resonate with your intended buyer to help them experience it from their computer.Similarly, the description should tell a story. Include all of the essential details–structures, acreage, crops or resources, and make these clear, but go beyond that. What is the history of the land? Who owns it now, and what is their story? What improvements have been done, and why? You want the buyer to care about this piece of land, and a story makes it special (even if it isn’t a very good one).
  1. Forming a Connection
    Not only do you want the buyer to care about the land, but you want them to care about you as well. Establishing trust and conveying confidence up front goes a long way to obtaining a lead, and ultimately securing a deal. You are your brand and vice-versa, so it should be treated and promoted like you would promote yourself. Your logo or photo should be everywhere you are; it shows people you are present in the region and an icon in the industry. The more they see it, the more they will feel you are an established and trustworthy business. Not unlike building a reputation within your community, your reputation and brand online are important to your business.A profile photo and bio can form a further connection. People will recognize you, and may even feel as if they already know you. You are no longer a faceless entity; you are a person, just like they are. If there isn’t a place for this on your listing, add it to the description.
  1. Get it Seen
    You have created a place for the information, now you need to drive people to see it. Post it on social media, add it to your website, print off some flyers and pass them out, pay for a featured ad, send some emails. Promoting the listing is the single biggest contributor to any listing’s success.It is also helpful to review your listing performance to get an idea how many people are seeing your property, and what actions are being taken. Give it thirty days, then take a look at listing views and lead count. These numbers can be helpful in telling you what the interest is like for your property. High listing views means that you are promoting it well, or it is popular in searches. If you are getting lots of leads, then you are doing well, but pay attention to the quality of those leads. Are they just kicking the tires, do they lose interest, are they responding to your attempts to contact them? These could be indicators that you are getting the wrong kind of traffic, appealing to the wrong audience, or potentially misrepresenting the property.

Take Away
To follow up, your property listing should have all of these qualities to reach maximum potential and performance:

  • Fully Completed Listing – Check all the boxes and enter all the information
  • Transport the potential buyer to the property with your words and photos
  • Convey an emotional connection, tell a story about the land
  • Establish trust and form a connection
  • Promote like crazy, and monitor listing performance

Online property advertising reaches a huge audience, and expands the buyer pool to include the entire country, or even world. When used correctly, it can be the most effective property selling tool in your arsenal. Implementing these tips will allow you to maximize your property listings, and lead to more deals closed in less time.

Jean Paul LaCountJean-Paul LaCount was the Head of Marketing for Lands of America and Land And Farm, and has been a digital marketer for the last 12 years.