June 10, 2019 | By Graham Kahl

5 Key Insights for Connecting With Primary Producers

Whether you’re a trailblazing agriculture start-up in the I-States or a 75-year-old equipment brand in Western Canada – knowing, growing, and keeping a loyal customer is essential to your success.

It’s also never been more challenging.

The marketplace is noisy. Access to available content has increased exponentially over the last few years. This means that you and your competitors are now constantly vying for the same limited moments of attention from those you’re trying to talk to. How do you stand out among the chaos?

We’re here to help.

We’re proven experts in agricultural marketing. We gained this expertise over 16 years of applying smart insights and strategy to marketing that works. Our insights into multi-generational, constantly evolving agriculture audiences aren’t one size fits all, either. We understand the subtle and not-so-subtle differences in the ways customers make decisions.

We understand manufacturers. We understand retailers. We understand agronomic consultants.

We understand growers. Here’s what you need to know:

#1: Sustainability is important for today and tomorrow

Sustainability is crucial to growers. It’s important from an environmental standpoint, because they need to maintain the health of their land to maintain the health of their business. But, sustainability is also important in the way that growers need to be able to sustain their farm so it’s still around for future generations. Their challenge is how to think about tomorrow when they need to feed their families and pay their bills today.

Key Insight: When you speak to growers, understand that they are constantly struggling to find balance between surviving today and keeping their land healthy for future generations. They want to do positive things for the environment but, if they can’t be profitable, their farm won’t be around long enough for them to do anything worthwhile. They love farming, it’s often their passion, and they want their children and grandchildren to be able to share that passion in the years and decades to come. Sustainability means different things to different growers. Some may focus on soil health, cover crops, and conservation tillage, while others will put their efforts into stewardship programs, waste management, and education.

#2: Support product claims with third-party data and proof points   

Growers are very busy for the majority of the year, and they have little patience for things that waste their time. When choosing a product, they want to know it works. They’ve had experience with overpromising and, like all of us, they are now wary of products that make broad claims that seem too good to be true. In short: they want to see performance data, rather than fluff.

Key Insight: If you want to effectively market to growers, you need to understand that data is extremely important. Growers don’t have time to try a bunch of products or learn from trial and error. Specific, reliable data and agronomic advice is now even more important than price because, to them, their time is priceless. But don’t waste your own time gathering data that is too broad. Do your research and understand that there are a variety of growing regions. The products you sell may not perform the same in different regions under different conditions. The more specific the data is to a grower’s region, the more value it holds.

#3: Labour is becoming an increasing expense

Finding affordable labour is becoming increasingly more difficult for growers. Farms are merging and increasing in size and, in some places, the minimum wage is increasing as well. Both of these things are making it more expensive for growers to staff their farms. Finding good quality labour has also become more challenging. With the rise in more specialized equipment, it takes more time and, therefore, more money to train even those workers who are experienced.

Key Insight: Products and equipment that are easy to use, simple to maintain, and easy to operate are appealing to growers. The fewer people they need to hire, and the less time they need to train them, the better. If what you’re selling to growers can help them decrease labour costs, make sure that benefit is clear.

#4: Growers who use consultants are often more informed and operate larger farms than those who don’t

Growers who own larger farms tend to see their operation as a business. The more informed and business-savvy a grower is, the more likely they are to hire a consultant. The reason for this is two-fold: a larger business can better absorb the cost of a consultant, and a more educated grower understands their own limits and the value a consultant can provide. Growers who use consultants do so because they believe consultants have the specialized expertise that can help them increase yields, improve efficiencies, reduce costs, make the land work harder, and improve the quality of the final product. They know that it’s almost impossible keep up with every new technology, and it helps to have someone on their side that can keep up with it for them.

Key Insight: Growers are not the only ones making purchasing decisions; many of them rely on their consultants to give them advice. This means your messaging needs to be tailored not just to growers but to consultants as well.

#5: Advanced technology and communication between machines is limiting the number of brands in a grower’s field

As connectivity and data collection become more important to a grower’s bottom line, they are now trying to reduce the risk of their machines not communicating by purchasing fewer brands. Syncing communication between a tractor, air seeder, and air cart that are from the same company has a higher success rate than trying to make competing brands compatible. When technology talks well to each other, it’s just easier. Troubleshooting is easier; servicing is easier; syncing data is easier; updating software is easier. The easier it is, the more time a grower saves. And saving time saves them money.

Key Insight: When it all comes down to it, technology that doesn’t work is both costly and useless to a grower. If what you’re talking about makes their lives easier, they’re going to listen. If your brand has technology that talks to each other well, they are more likely to try it.

At WS, we know that growers can go any number of places to consume information, and we know it takes a great deal of trust to make them stay. We continue to strategically build brands in all facets of agriculture,by combining a deep understanding of the category with the latest in marketing technology. This trust allowed us to create a robust content and social media strategy for one of our agriculture clients that contributed to more than 2 million digital campaign views.  For another agricultural client, our process enabled the transition of 25% more leads into hot leads over the course of their campaign. We’re constantly aggregating and evaluating data to inform the strategies we create and the brand building we execute. We watch grower behaviour. We understand their challenges, we empathize with their hardships, and we celebrate their successes. We strive to speak to growers the way they deserve to be spoken to. And we’re sharing our insights because we want everyone to speak to growers this way. Why?

Because, if growers win, we all do.

If you would like to learn even more about how to effectively market to growers in North America, we’d be happy to share what we know. Contact us at calgary@simplyws.com or toronto@simplyws.com.

Graham Kahl

Graham Kahl is Executive VP, Insights & Analytics at WS. Gain more of his insights by connecting with him on LinkedIn.