2020 is here. As we enter a new planting season in just a few months, now is a great time to put together your agribusiness marketing strategies for the year -- if you haven’t already.
This is certainly a challenging year to be an ag marketer. With a combination of depressed commodity prices, 20 million wiped-out crop acres in 2019, and the pressure to feed a growing population, farmers have their work cut out for them -- and so do the agribusinesses that serve them.
While farmers are certainly rising to the challenge through the use of data and technology to improve their crop performance, it’s only one piece of the puzzle. Agribusinesses need to use data and technology to connect their products and services not only with enough growers, but with the right growers.
The specifics are going to vary from company to company. If you’re a retailer, you’re probably going to have very different objectives than a seed or crop protection company (and vice versa).
But the key to success remains the same from agribusiness to agribusiness: removing guesswork from the marketing process and acting on reliable, data-driven insights.
Here are a few examples of the benefits of data as applied to agribusiness marketing strategies:
- Identifying your ideal markets
- Growing your overall market share among your current ideal buyer personas
- Increasing wallet share among your current customers, either with new products you’re taking to market, or through upselling
- Expanding your footprint into new markets and segments of farmers, whether that be geographically or demographically
In fact, the applications of data are just as diverse as they are powerful.
A targeted agribusiness marketing strategy will be the fastest and most profitable way to get you to your goals. Here are some tips to help take your agribusiness to a new level in 2020.
1. Focus your tactics around a single, well-defined goal
Successful marketing campaigns start with the following question: What is our primary goal?
It could be that you want to generate leads. Or grow your brand awareness. Or audience engagement.
This singular goal will determine your messaging, creative, call-to-action, follow-up, cadence, and metrics used to track the success of the campaign.
That doesn’t mean that a marketing campaign can’t generate multiple results. In fact, success in one area will likely spell success in another.
But a focused campaign means that the actions you take in choosing your audience, crafting the creative, promoting through multi-channel marketing, and analyzing back-end results to determine effectiveness -- all of them should drive that singular goal.
Anything else that happens is icing on the cake.
Here are some examples of campaign goals and how to map your marketing tactics to those goals:
- Brand campaigns. A brand campaign can benefit from a combination of audience marketing and targeted digital marketing, because the ultimate goal is more awareness of your company among farmers. These types of campaigns are especially helpful for companies who sell through dealers but not direct to farmers.
- Education. If the market is uneducated on your products, services or expertise, then it’s your job to educate them on the value you offer them. Blogs, eBooks, video, email and social media are all great channels for sharing educational content with your audience.
- Engagement. Growing your online presence means not only that you need to generate conversions, but engagement. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn all measure engagement by three metrics – likes, shares (or retweets) and comment. These campaigns require content that people want to share within the social media application.
- Conversion. Generating a conversion means that you need to serve ads to potential customers, so targeted marketing is going to be your best bet here. Make sure that the value and offer are clear, the call-to-action is easy to follow and that there’s an enticing reason to click.
Choose your primary goal and map your tactics to that goal. This will provide a foundation for you to track and measure your campaign after you’ve deployed it.
2. Go after the customers who are actually your target market
We use the term “Market” all the time: What does the Market want? How do we best communicate with the Market? Where is the Market heading over the next few years?
While these big-picture questions are valuable, talking about “the Market” as an abstract concept conceals the truth that the market is just the sum of individual farmers – and these farmers have specific, concrete, and addressable needs.
What’s more: not all farmers are going to have the same needs.
So instead of focusing on “The Market” in the abstract, dig deep into your ideal customer through the data and information available to you.
Use it to determine which farmers are actually in your target market.
There are many ways to segment your target market. Here are just a few:
- Geographic territory (region, division, state or county)
- Size of the operation (Gross Farm Income or number of acres farmed)
- Type of operation (commodity vs. specialty, organic vs. non-organic, etc.)
- Demographics of the farmer (age, gender, etc.)
There are other ways you can segment as well. You can look at whether a farmer is a current customer or a prospect. The latter is going to need different messaging than the former.
3. Craft tailored, contextual messaging for each segment.
Once you’ve built your clearly defined marketing segments, you can craft individual marketing messages that tie to those statements. Since different farmers are going to respond differently to different messages, this is important.
For example, if you go to a corn grower and offer to help him with his specialty crop operation, it likely won’t be the most productive conversation.
Ideally, you would engage in one-to-one communications, with a highly contextual and relevant message for each farmer. Of course, this is an obvious sales best practice and you should encourage your sales team to do just that.
But for marketers, this simply isn’t possible at scale. That’s why you group your total audience into segments of very similar growers, sending a communication to that group.
When you combine powerful segmentation with tailored ads and content, you can customize your marketing communications to match the specific needs, questions, and pain that are at the forefront of their minds.
Here are some areas where you can customize your ads:
- Content and messaging. Write something different for each of your segment, so you’re addressing their specific pain points and capturing their attention.
- Visuals. This follows in the same vein as messaging. The right message can engage a prospect, while the wrong image will definitely turn them away.
- Call-to-Action. Depending on the specific segment of agriculture, lifecycle stage, and whether the person you’re targeting is a decision-maker or influencer, the call-to-action may need to be adjusted, whether it’s to watch a video or talk to sales.
- Follow-up. Different prospects and customers are going to require different follow-up techniques. High dollar sales will require multiple touches, while quick e-Commerce purchases can happen quickly and with little necessary follow-up.
4. Be deliberate in the frequency and timing of your messages
After determining your audience and the content of the campaign, the next step is to deploy the ads.
But figuring out how and when to deploy shouldn’t be an afterthought. It should be a core part of your campaign strategy.
You could have the best ad with the best message, but delivered at the wrong time it could not only be ineffective – but detrimental to the rest of your marketing efforts.
Look at the frequency of your messages; that is, how often you’re communicating with prospects and customers. You don’t want to send too many messages so as to overwhelm them. On the other hand, sending too few communications means that you’ll lose their attention over time and become less and less interesting to them.
You’ll also want to change the frequency of your messages for your prospects versus customers. Prospects who have just heard about your company don’t need to be bombarded with communications. But prospects close to making a purchase may be interested in more frequent communications as they make their buying decisions.
Likewise, customers who’ve just been sold may not want to hear from you immediately, but after six months may need to be reminded of what else you have to offer them.
Additionally, the size of a particular company and the potential revenue from them will affect your marketing frequency. Larger purchases require longer sales cycles, and your marketing communications will need to keep those customers engaged over that longer period.
The other factor to consider is timing relative to what’s happening in the news and the industry. You want your marketing messages to be relevant to what your farmers are experiencing.
Farming is a seasonal operation. There are times of the year where the farmer is interested in your product or service – and there are times when they definitely are not interested because their efforts are focused elsewhere.
For example, if you sell harvesting equipment, the middle of the harvest is probably not the best time to sell it – you’ve missed the boat and will have to wait until next year.
5. Integrate marketing channels to increase your impact
Marketers have an expansive set of marketing tools available to them thanks to modern technology. With all of these options, there’s no reason you should limit yourself to one channel.
And integrated marketing is never an all-or-nothing deal. In fact, integrating your marketing channels has been shown to improve your marketing ROI.
Test and experiment to find the right combination of ads that will give you the most value.
For example, you could use targeted programmatic ads to get attention, Facebook ads to re-engage, and email to follow up and nurture leads until they’re ready to talk to sales.
One of the core principles of integrated marketing is to have a consistent message across the campaign. That way, each subsequent message builds on the previous messages and you’re building a presence in the mind of your farmers.
Once you have a focused campaign goal, a clearly-defined target audience, customized messaging and deliberate message delivery, consistency in integrated marketing naturally happens.
6. Measure results and analyze to improve future campaigns
The biggest advantage that comes from modern digital marketing is the ability to measure, track results and adjust over time. That way, you’re always looking at the effectiveness of your campaigns and seeing what works and what doesn’t.
One of the advantages you get from modern marketing is that each impression and conversion can be tracked, whether through email, social media or programmatic advertising.
This is where you go back to your campaign objective you established at the beginning. Since that’s clearly defined, measuring results should be easy:
- Brand authority & awareness should be measured in terms of ad reach, number of views and impressions
- Education should be measured in terms of the number of qualified leads that are going to your sales team
- Engagement should be measured in terms of likes, comments, shares and clicks
- Conversion should be measured in terms of number of leads generated and the conversion rates for those leads into new customers
Once you have a goal, have built a campaign, and are tracking the results of that campaign, you’ve set up an ongoing process that gives you a leg up in generating success and results for your business.