The agriculture industry is changing.
While many of the typical hallmarks of ag are the same – the community, the emphasis on family and, most importantly, the crucial role ag place in our economy and our world – the way that farmers farm is changing. That means that your business has to adapt as a result.
Farmers aren’t behind the times when it comes to social media and the Internet. And the prevalence of technology in ag is certainly creating new opportunities for businesses to break in and begin offering new and innovative products and services.
These changes aren’t bad. In fact, they’re going to help farmers scale their operations so they can meet the food demands of a growing population. But if your business doesn’t adapt to them, you may suffer.
On the other hand, if you do adapt and take these three agriculture trends into account, then you’re going to stand apart from and ahead of your competition.
1. Disruption of the industry through technology.
From medicine to transportation to even politics, technology is disrupting every industry. Agriculture is no exception.
Much of the current conversation around data and technology in agriculture relates to precision ag. And there is definitely a massive role that precision ag is playing. From using GIS imagery to make planting decisions to using multivariate rate seeding to maximize each square inch of land to its own fullest potential, farmers aren’t shying away from technology.
That means that their needs are changing. And if you want to continue serving farmers through your products and services, you have to change with them.
But understanding farmers as tech-savvy operators is only the first step. The second – and most powerful one – is modernize your strategy, marketing and sales practices to match. The biggest way you can do this is through good use of data. Here are a few examples of what we mean:
- Use available market data to make strategic decisions. Sources like the USDA and other third-party data providers can provide a massive amount of data on farmers, their operations, their financial ability, contact information and more. Use your own data analysis to identify your ideal market, and then focus your marketing and sales efforts on that specific market.
- Customize your marketing efforts to what your audience is actually doing. Data is the bread and butter of the modern marketer. Instead of just taking out an ad on an ag media site or magazine, focus your efforts on reaching your specific audience where they are. Use Search Engine Optimization to rank your website for terms that your audience is searching for, use targeted programmatic and social media ads to communicate directly with your audience and only your audience – and then use email marketing to follow up. These channels, among others, provide insights as to how your audience is behaving so you can respond in a way that’s tailored to them.
- Engage in sales conversations that address farmers’ needs, not merely your product offering. If you have data and information about your target audiences, your sales teams will actually be able to have a productive and meaningful conversation about the farmers’ needs. Instead of wasting time having the farmer fill you in on their operation, or worse, rambling on with a cold and generic sales pitch, let your sales team use their data intelligence to anticipate and respond to farmers’ needs, becoming trusted advisors and building long-term relationships.
Modernizing your marketing and sales practices is a key part of staying ahead of agriculture trends.
2. Consolidation of large suppliers.
The ag industry is a zero-sum game, and we see that reality coming into play with the recent consolidation of multiple large suppliers.
We’ve talked before about how agriculture is a zero-sum game, meaning that businesses looking to increase their market share are incredibly competitive. One way that large companies can do this is through consolidation, thus taking two market shares and combining them into one.
If you’re a mega company, this is an option that could be available to you.
But for SMBs in agribusiness, that tactic isn’t an option. That means that you have to try and navigate a market that’s increasingly being taken over by large entities. Here are some tips:
- Double-down on your niche. No matter how efficiently or low-cost the large companies are, there are some things that only your business can do as well as you can. Your niche is going to be what ends up saving you. Instead of trying to expand to appeal to a wide array of farmers, focus on your niche and use data to find the market that best fits what you have to offer.
- Market to smaller farms. Everyone wants to go after the big farms and close the large deals. But in reality, those farms have such high competition that you don’t want to put all your eggs in that one basket. Remember to also market to smaller farms that align with your niche, and build a lasting, sustained relationship with them.
3. Increased consumer demands.
Not only are farmers and their suppliers changing, but consumers are also placing more demands on farmers.
Consumers want food that’s sourced ethically and is also sustainable. They want to know that farmers are considering how their practices are impacting the environment and the ecosystem.
This trend is especially impacting Millennial farmers, who are adopting new farming practices to respond to these demands from consumers.
Here are some ways that you can help farmers stay on top of these demands:
- Be transparent about how your product is sourced and created. We at Farm Market iD are major advocates of transparency. We’ve created a page where we detail how our data is sourced so our own customers know exactly what they’re getting. We’d recommend you do the same for your business.
- Offer your insights on Millennial and Gen-Z customers. If you’ve been collecting customer data on younger generations – like marketing channel engagement, website behavior, or the products they’re buying, use that expertise to help inform your farmers. It costs both you and the farmer nothing, but it goes a long way toward building trust.
These three techniques are just the start of transforming your business to keep up with current agriculture trends.