In the beautiful Wye Valley, Brookes Dairy makes ice cream and cheese which is popular with local restaurants and hotels and sold by large retailers including Waitrose and Morrisons.
After free SEO support from Superfast Business Wales, the family business is now using their website and social media to share their history, showcase the products and win more customers.
Find out more about the free online support available here.
We’re here today, in the beautiful Wye Valley at Panta Farm, where we’ve got Brookes Dairy. This is our family farm. We’ve lived here for thirty, thirty five years now and we make ice cream, cheese with the milk from our own pedigree jersey cows.
The milk is absolutely perfect for manufacturing ice cream and cheese, it’s very high in butter fat and protein so you get a lovely rich, smooth, creamy taste. We initially started making the ice cream and then as the business has grown we’ve started adding new products onto that so we’ve started making sorbets as well, which have proved very popular with the retail outlets and also restaurants and hotels.
Then more recently, my sister, Hannah, has developed her own soft brie cheese and we’ve just started to sell this. She’s only producing very small batches at the moment but it’s proving incredibly popular.
We’re really pleased about how the cheese has been received. We won a silver at The Royal Welsh, a gold at the World Cheese Awards and although at the moment we’re only making small batches, and able to supply a small number of customers, we can’t wait to get production here on the farm so that we can grow the business further.
Like many companies we had a website, but it wasn’t something that we used a lot to market what we were doing with our ice cream – but since starting the cheese, and looking more at what other people do, we realised how important combining other types of marketing is going to be to our business in the future. Using things like Twitter, Facebook, in combination with our more traditional methods of visiting people and being able to give samples of our product and get immediate feedback, we think is what we will do in the future.
We attended an SEO workshop which was really great and gave us a real insight into lots of new things that we should be doing to help our business grow. Two of the things we took away were the use of Mail Chimp and creating a database of customers that we could then contact and promote our new products and new offerings to.
The second was looking at online ordering. It’s not something that we’ve really considered, but certainly with the cheese which could be purchased and sold online, but also perhaps for our existing customers on the ice cream – could we introduce an online ordering system for them?
Quality and provenance is actually essential to the business. With that we obviously are trying to maintain as high a standard as possible. We have a five start hygiene rating and are also SALSA accredited. This has enabled us to approach some of the larger retailers such as Waitrose and Morrison’s who now stock some of our products locally and regionally.
Being online gives us a fantastic tool to be able to do research of potential customers and then, obviously, when we go and visit those customers we can show them the website which gives a story of the history of the farm but also showcases the fantastic products that we’ve got on offer.
What we’ve really found now we’ve started using Twitter and Facebook much more is we’re able to see what other companies are doing but also what our customers are doing, and therefore linking in to products that they want to stock or different things that they might want to try enables us to share our story with them and we’re really excited to see how online technology can help us grow the business even further.