Recently, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue discussed the necessity of data and fact in agriculture. He said: “We (USDA) are going to make sound science, fact-based and data-driven decisions because that is what works.”
Fact-based and data-driven decisions are critical to success, especially with all the challenges in food and agriculture industry. Any agribusiness can improve their results by using data and information to drive real results in their marketing campaigns.
This requires a level of data analysis and data science that may be unfamiliar to some ag companies. Even with growing sophistication among farmers, many companies still haven't realized the full potential of data and technology to grow revenue.
There are a number of strategies and tactics to help you improve not just your decision-making, but execution as well. Here are the top five agriculture marketing services that we've seen boost agribusiness revenue.
1. Market Share and Wallet Share Analysis
Your agribusiness doesn't do business with every farmer in the United States. The market is simply too broad and diverse for that. However, most companies don't take this into account when performing their market share analysis.
Most market share analysis is based on aggregate U.S. Department of Agriculture data summarizing regions and states. While this data is helpful in many ways, it lacks the specificity that many companies need to identify their addressable market.
For example, for many retailers, grain elevators, or seed distributors, geographic footprint has more to do with proximity than county lines. Farmers within a certain radius of the retailer are part of that retailer's market, regardless of the county they're in specifically. This leads to a different, more accurate definition of addressable market than aggregate figures can provide.
Market share analysis should instead focus on your addressable market. This includes farmers located within a particular geography, who need your product and meet your price point.
Your addressable market gives you a much more accurate and actionable picture than a total market view. Forty percent addressable market share means the other 60 percent consists of dollars that you actually can go out and get.
That unclaimed market share can be divided into two categories -- current customers and prospects. While prospecting is important, wallet share growth among your current customers presents some low-hanging fruit.
Market share and wallet share analysis services can help you open new doors for revenue potential, leading to more business growth.
2. Market Segmentation
Different farmers require different messaging. When you build well-defined segments and then deploy customized campaigns against those segments, you'll increase your success and impact.
Instead of a broad go-to-market, market new agriculture products to the farmers who are most likely to get use out of them.
For example, let's say your addressable market consists of Corn/Soy farmers. You want to promote your new resistant soybean hybrid to them. It makes sense to specifically focus your efforts on farmers who are on the soybean side of the rotation. You could further refine the segment by farmers with whom you have a low wallet share for seed.
When it comes time to deploy your ads, you can deliver them just to the farmers in that segment. The farmer only receives information relevant to solving a problem or relieving pain. The result is increased trust and brand loyalty.
Additionally, market segmentation can set you up to more effectively deploy time-based communications. For example, one day you might come across a news article about a development in the National Organic Program. That could be a good opportunity to reach out to those farmers who sell organic agriculture products. Traditional farmers in the dairy industry, or farmers who grow cotton and tobacco wouldn't find that particular communication highly relevant.
There are many ways to segment your market -- crop type, acreage, persona, spend potential. A market segmentation tool gives you a leg up on competitors who still use a "spray and pray" approach.
3. Email Marketing
Analyzing the market and building segments are only helpful when you can deploy ads and messaging around the topics of interest to those segments. One direct way to connect with your specific segments of farmers is through email marketing.
But in order to be effective at email, there are some things to consider:
- Managing your domain reputation. A bad email can spoil the bunch. Triggering a single spam trap will tank your delivery rates.
- Maintaining a healthy list. Generally speaking, email lists decay anywhere from 25 to 30 percent each year. If you're emailing the same people as last year, as many as a third of those people are bad contacts. This will certainly depress your metrics and, more importantly, opening the door to spam complaints.
- Providing value with every deployment. You can't email people who opt-out. To reduce opt-outs as much as possible, focus on creating interesting and engaging emails that farmers actually want to read.
Remember that you can use email not just to promote, but also to nurture. Sending farmers educational content may garner more attention than simply asking them to buy something with every deployment. It's a long-term play certainly, but it could pay off.
There are a host of topics you could educate farmers on. Perhaps there are legislative issues or provisions -- like the Farm Bill or Federal Seed Act -- that you could help growers understand. Or it could be something timely, like commentary on grading and market news. Or you could publish something evergreen, like helping farmers comply with inspection service requirements.
In either case, your emails should be relevant to the farmer, providing information or products to help them improve their effectiveness.
4. Programmatic Advertising
"Digital marketing" for most ag companies means going to a publisher and taking out a website ad. While direct placement is a decent option, there are other ways to get your ads in front of the right farmers.
Direct placement doesn't allow you to target your ads to your specific segments. Nor do you get the detailed analytics on who views and ad. Nor can you test different creatives to see which one performs better. That's why programmatic advertising is a necessity for ag marketers focused on building data-driven campaigns.
In essence, you serve online ads directly to farmers.
In 2019, Farm Market iD, along with our partner Big Reach Network, delivered over 60 million targeted ad impressions.
Programmatic advertising is the automated buying and selling of digital ad space across thousands of websites. In essence, machines deliver your ad to the individual, wherever they go online.
By focusing your spend, you not only lower your costs, but also increase the effectiveness of each ad and campaign.
5. Sales Integration
You could invest in the best agriculture marketing services in the market. However, if your salespeople aren't converting those engaged leads into customers, you're missing out on chances to increase your revenue.
When you've been targeting very specific segments of the market, you've been using data to define those segments. Viewing that data at the grower level can help the salesperson better understand the operation and serve the grower's needs.
Just as your marketing communications have been tailored to the segment, your sales communications must be tailored to the individual. By integrating sales with marketing, you can avoid misalignment and potential confusion on the part of the grower.
Investing in the data, tools and services that integrate strategy, marketing and sales can be a big ask. However, when you realize the value in terms of improved efficiency, time saved, and maximizing potential revenue, the value becomes clear.
To learn more about the agriculture marketing services available to your company, click here.