Trade show season is upon us. At least, it would have been if it was any other year.
Thanks to COVID-19, ag trade shows are all being cancelled or moved to virtual, robbing many agribusinesses of valuable face-to-face time with their customers. If your agribusiness uses trade shows as a major sales and marketing channel, you're probably feeling the impact of these cancellations.
However, lost opportunity in one area means more opportunity in another. Here are some marketing strategies you can implement in light of cancelled ag trade shows.
Continue to invest in marketing.
With one of your primary marketing channels disappearing virtually overnight, it may be tempting to leave the money you would have spent on that ag trade show unspent.
However, not investing in other forms of marketing could be a big mistake.
According to recent data on farmers' reactions to COVID-19, farmers are more likely to spend less and conserve cash than to spend at normal rates. With fewer farmers willingly entering your pipeline, you'll have to spend more effort to go after them.
Additionally, the farmers you're currently doing business with are going to start to have a lower price point. One of the top expectations that farmers have of their agribusiness vendors and partners is price reduction, as well as flexibility in payment terms.
All of these factors combine to demonstrate that your previous business practices likely aren't going to work as well as they have in the past. Rather than watch your revenue drop over the coming months, take the bull by the horns and get in front of more farmers through print, digital, email, and social media marketing campaigns.
Keep getting in front of farmers.
According to our data, farmers are cutting back on spending and holding on tight to their wallets. While this will result in a drop in sales for most agribusinesses in the short term, we know that the COVID-19 shutdown will eventually end, businessses will re-open and life will start to resume its normal rhythms.
Farmers are expected to do the same thing. Not only will they be more likely to spend because of the savings they've held onto during this time, but also expected increases in farm subsidies to offset the continued trade war with China.
Suffice it to say that once this crisis passes, farmers are going to be ready to spend again. You want those farmers to spend that money with your agribusiness.
You're not going to be able to meet with them at ag trade shows, nor will you be paying them a visit on the farm because of social distancing. You could call them, but it's possible that farmers either are overwhelmed with calls right now due to everyone being home, or they just aren't ready to talk to a salesperson about their operation with this much uncertainty in the air.
That's why investing in marketing can be the most efficient way to stay in front of farmers right now. Develop messaging and content that'll pique their interest and, most importantly, keep your brand front-and-center so that when the time comes to start spending again, your agribusiness is the first that comes to mind.
Take advantage of the digital-friendly landscape.
With everyone staying at home and spending more time on computers and phones, this is the perfect landscape for digital marketing.
There are a number of digital channels that each provide their own unique advantages, particularly if you use them in a data-targeted way:
- Digital display ads are phenomenal brand awareness tools, building an appreciation and understanding of what you can offer them.
- Connected TV can serve your video ads as farmers are watching their favorite shows on Hulu, Roku, etc. With video streaming at a record high right now, you have more audience attention and opportunity.
- Social media ads, especially through Facebook, which is the top social media channel for farmers, can cut through a lot of the "ad" noise and reach farmers directly where they spend a significant chunk of their free time.
- Email marketing offers you the opportunity to connect with farmers directly in their inboxes, both as an initial means of acquisition and also to nurture them along their path toward becoming a customer.
With digital channels comes a higher ROI than print media or direct placement ads, simply because you aren't paying high costs for print materials or a premium on placement. Instead, you can target your ads specifically to the farmers you're trying to reach through data and programmatic ad-buying.
As you're considering where to place those trade show dollars, know that you're going to get a lot of reach and direct connection with your growers if you choose to invest in digital advertising.
Be extra helpful in your conversations.
Farmers are only going to be interested in purchasing your product if it truly provides value to them -- especially now that they're cutting back on their spend. If you want them to make a purchase, you have to demonstrate the value of what you do.
Part of this involves creating a personalized product offer for that particular grower. In order to do that, you need to spend less time pitching, and more time researching:
- Use grower data to get the full picture of the farmer's operation
- Engage in conversations with growers that ask revealing questions, instead of just "tell me about your farm"
- Make sure that if you offer them a product, there's a 99% chance they're going to get value out of it
- Remember that this may not be the right time to sell them; if that's the case then hold off on the pitch until the crisis has passed as you don't want to burn a bridge with a preemptive ask
The more value you can bring to the farmer, the more they're going to be intrigued and want to learn more. This will place you in their minds as a trusted advisor and, when it comes time to make a purchase, you'll likely be the first person they call.