September 24, 2021

Farmer Values Matter to Your Marketing Message

What matters to customers has been a hot topic for several years, as millennials made it clear that they would have no qualms about supporting companies whose values align with theirs, leaving those that don’t behind. 

Somehow, from this topic sprang a barrage of sustainability messaging – greenwashing products and services that assured the influential generation that they were making good choices that considered the earth and the environment. 

As we know (and explored in a recent article), sustainability is not nearly as profound or compelling a message for most farmers, at least not in its most basic form. In reality, it’s likely not as compelling for any customer – consumer or B2B – as we would like to believe it is. People are complex, and the things that matter to us are equally layered. 

What B2B Buyers Value

There are numerous types of values that B2B buyers bring along with them in decision making. The most common we see expressed in marketing materials aimed at farm customers are usually centred around productivity, ROI and performance. 

While these are key selling features to a product or service for this audience, they’re also arguably the most basic ones. Increased yield! Yawn. If everyone is claiming the variations of the same key features and benefits, what truly drives a farmer’s decision to buy from your company over your competitors?

All farmer held values drive decision making in some capacity, but certain values are more closely tied to the actual goals a farmer has for their farm business. These goals may not be expressly stated in their business plans. They may be less tangible than some of the more basic values we tend to lean into in marketing. Understanding them is key to differentiating your product or service in a meaningful way that attracts and keeps loyal customers. 

Values and Goals Go Hand in Hand

As with most of what we explore when it comes to what motivates farmers, values vary as much as production practices and farm management styles do. 

In a 1997 study of 680 farmers in New Zealand, researchers identified 50 goals in 10 categories and asked farmers to rank them in order of importance. Each goal category was associated with a value. These values included individual success, the welfare of others, or environmental management. 

The study found that 43% of farmers had goals relating to profitability and maximizing production, a goal category associated with individual success. Accordingly, these farmers also took pride in producing the highest quality product and getting the best price for it at market. 

What messaging would be resonant to a farmer that values individual success? Chances are, it’s not the same messaging that resonates with a farmer who places a higher value on the welfare of others. Note that the farmer who values individual success doesn’t necessarily believe that success = a high income. The pride of a high-quality product and the satisfaction of negotiating a good selling price exist within that value as well. 

Dig Deeper to Uncover Farmer Values

The best way to understand what your farm customer values is to look directly at data from your farm customers. However, you can’t just take any insight you find at face value. For example, if your media analytics tell you that your ad about ROI got the most clicks, look deeper and consider other factors like ad placement, creative, and the demographics of the individuals who clicked through and converted to a sale. 

You might find that the ROI message lead the charge, but it was supported by imagery that reinforced your customers’ personal value of working for themselves. You might learn that the ad got the most clicks when it appeared on a site focused on financial management for farmers – a hint that those clicks came from farmers who were already thinking about their on-farm finances. 

Once you’ve used your existing results to draw a few hypotheses, test them. Survey your audience or A/B test copy variations with the same creative.  Consider the ways you can extend and expand on a simple value like being an independent worker with longer-form content. Would your farm customers appreciate a webinar that explained changes to employer tax laws in a simple, easy to understand way? Maybe they’d prefer it be a podcast, so they can listen while in the tractor. 

More Studies Needed

There hasn’t been much in the way of recent studies about farmer values, or studies of North American farmers in particular. Because of this, we sadly can’t share a comprehensive list of what matters the most to farmers. This is a question we ask ourselves as well, especially when looking at features and benefits lists – what values do these particular features and benefits actually speak to? Can we go deeper?

What do your farm customers value? Our Business Intelligence team is standing by to help you better understand your audience.