Controversial opinion? Maybe. However, it’s one we’re willing to stand by. No matter how knowledgeable your marketing team, R&D department, agency, or even subject matter experts are, they don’t come close to how much farmers themselves know and understand about the business of farming.
Why does it matter? Well, when we try to reach farmers with relevant marketing messages, it’s very easy to miss the mark. Too often, agrimarketers have made assumptions about how they will behave, what drives their purchasing decisions, or even the features and benefits that will matter to them.
In order to understand how we can put the breadth of knowledge that farm customers have to work for smarter marketing insights, we have to understand where their intel comes from, beyond the most obvious, of course. Farmers understand the business of farming and what they need or want because they do it every single day. But that’s not all.
They’re Connected Locally – and Globally
Farmers have long been part of tightly knit, if rurally distributed, communities. They participate in local events, their kids attend local schools, and they’re on a first-name basis with their local coffee shop staff. This has always made word-of-mouth an extremely valuable part of any marketing mix. Farmers talk. They talk to other farmers, they talk to vendors, and they talk to sales reps.
However, they’re also more connected beyond their communities than ever. Farmers are active users and their activity on the #agtwitter hashtag grew by 12% in 2020. They regularly use Facebook for both personal and business reasons. They’re digitally engaged with other farmers.
This digital engagement offers an opportunity for brands as well. The value of direct conversations with your customers or potential customers shouldn’t be underestimated. Just make sure your engagement is helpful – and human.
This makes transparency more critical than ever for ag brands. Customers can sound off in reviews, on message boards, and on social media, and much of it is searchable. If what your product claims are countered by real experiences shared by farmers, you’ll have an uphill PR hill to climb.
But this too presents an opportunity. An optimized SEO strategy will help direct at least some of that traffic to your website, especially if you’ve taken the time to truly understand what and how your ideal customer searches for information related to your product or service.
They Have Their Own Data
With the rise of smart, connected farm equipment, farmers are generating incredible amounts of data (which they are rarely willing to share with ag brands). They’re able to analyze their own on-farm data and truly see what worked, and what didn’t.
While gaining access to that data may not be possible, understanding how farmers draw conclusions in their analysis is important. Aim to ensure your own results are gathered and analyzed in a similar way. If a farmer trials a product in a small corner of a field and compares the results to the rest of the same field, you need to do the same. Remember, if you can’t easily answer what your product is 25 or 30% better at, the farmer won’t know either.
Your Customer is The Expert
One of the best places to gain insight into your audience is the audience itself. We can’t stress that enough. Surveys, panels, feedback – you have to ask your customers questions and really take the time to analyze and understand their responses. From there, you can build insights that you can apply immediately to your marketing plans or customer personas. Applying gut feelings or instinct to how your customers think, act and make decisions is a losing proposition.