Growing revenue. It’s the number one goal of any ag company. All other goals revolve around that one, all-important objective.
But as anyone in business knows, growing revenue is easier said than done.
The best, easiest and least expensive way to grow your revenue involves building an informed, actionable strategy, deploying marketing campaigns around that strategy, and aligning salespeople to follow up on the same segments as the marketing team.
If your revenue growth is stagnating or, worse, going negative, here are three questions you can start asking to help diagnose the problem and get your company back on track.
1. How are you building a data-driven strategy?
In our experience working with ag companies, we’ve found that many decisions in the industry are based on intuition and anecdote, not facts and information.
A lot of decision-makers go with their “gut feeling” as their North Star. This trend has continued because, in the past, it’s been effective at bringing the right amount of revenue to ag companies.
But that was before a five-year lag in the market. That was before the market started consolidating and becoming more competitive – and technologically advanced.
As your agribusiness looks to grow in the zero-sum game, you need to improve your decision-making process. Start by asking: is your strategy based on intuition, or is it based on facts, data and analysis?
If you think you know the market, consider that the market is so large that no one person can really grasp it all without becoming reductive. Our database contains 2.59 million active farm owners and operators. If you spent one minute looking at each individual operation, it would take 4.9 years to get through them all.
Data analysis and data science help take this massive amount of information and turn it into an actionable strategy for your business.
Here are some of the ways you can use data to improve your business strategy:
- Analyze your market share
- Look at customers’ share of wallet
- Drill down based on specific territories/markets/demographics
At the end of the day, your main goal should be using data analysis to find actionable segments of the market, so you know when you invest marketing and sales dollars that you’re most likely to get a return on investment.
2. How are you executing marketing campaigns against that strategy?
Once you build your strategy, you have the marketing segments that you can then execute against. So the second question you ask should be: how are you executing marketing campaigns against that strategy?
The three most common marketing tactics in ag tend to be audience marketing (radio, television, etc.), direct placement ads in either print or digital, and direct mail. Out of all these channels, direct mail is probably the best because you can know that your mailer is getting to the farmers in your segment.
But anyone who’s run direct mail campaigns knows just how expensive they can get. And while it’s effective in the ag industry, it takes a while before you’ll generate an ROI.
So instead of solely relying on these methods of marketing, take the data-driven insights you used in the strategy phase to identify new direct, immediate and measurable channels for marketing.
If you have a list of at least 1,000 email addresses, here’s what you can do:
- Send emails to farmers
- Create custom Facebook Audiences and put display ads in their news feeds
- Execute programmatic ad campaigns that follow farmers across multiple websites
Digital marketing is a great advantage to agribusiness because it’s direct and it’s measurable – you always know which ads generated which results, or no results.
Use this to adapt and adjust so you’re always putting your dollars into ads that are effective.
3. How is your sales team following up on marketing leads and moving you toward your strategic revenue goals?
Once you’ve executed digital marketing campaigns driven by data, then you’ll know which farmers are engaging with your content and which ones aren’t. That’ll give your sales team an edge into seeing which prospects are most interested in your company and what you have to offer.
Each of your salespeople has their own revenue number they’re going to have to hit for the month, quarter and year. And while revenue is revenue, the impact on the business grows exponentially when you’re not just bringing in dollars, but expanding your business’ footprint in your target market.
The first thing to do to integrate marketing and sales is share prospect lists. If you have everything in a central CRM, then that makes it easier.
The second step is to share lead engagement information with sales. So if a farmer opens and clicks on an email (which is easily trackable with any email marketing software), then you know that a salesperson should reach out to them and start a conversation.
Ultimately, data-driven strategy, marketing and sales is supposed to help you take the data you have on the market and make it actionable. Use it to identify your target market, execute campaigns against those segments, and engage in sales follow up to bring those dollars home.
Asking these three questions will put you on the path to accomplishing just that.