Marketers in other industries are either B2B (business-to-business) or B2C (business-to-consumer). However, for agri-marketers, the line between the two is blurred.
Marketing to farmers combines the best of both worlds:
- Because farmers are individuals and have a lot of freedom in making decisions, they exhibit many of the behaviors that consumers do.
- Because farmers are in charge of operations that involve large amounts of financing, they exhibit many of the behaviors of a business.
This means that marketing to farmers exists at the intersection of B2B and B2C tactics.
Fortunately, merging these two is easier said than done. Here are areas where you can combine the two in your agri-marketing efforts.
1. Provide value upfront
Your product is the top value that you can offer clients. And in most consumer brands, marketers jump right from brand to product.
But take a page out of the B2B book and understand that there’s a difference between product and value. Your value is the sum total of your products, services, expertise, and the overall customer experience your farmers have.
That means your value that you can offer to customers isn’t limited to your products. So why wait to start offering value upfront?
Offer some of your expertise to farmers to empower them to make more informed decisions. Provide a strategic voice to guide them in their farm operations. Become a trusted resource that farmers go to for industry insights.
And when it makes sense, go ahead and start to talk about your products and services.
After all, if your farmers are informed, they should easily recognize the value of your product and it’ll be easier to close the deal.
2. Build a relationship
Most B2B marketing is centered on using content to provide upfront value to potential customers. This begins a relationship that, hopefully, leads to a closed deal.
This tactic applies very well in the ag industry. Most agriculture products are highly differentiated, highly specialized and have a high price point. These three things mean that your product is likely not a one-time sell. You’ll only close the deal over a continual process of conversation through relationship.
But, at the same time, farmers don’t work a 9 to 5 desk job like many B2B customers do. They’re out in the field, making trips into town for supplies and equipment and engaging in the local community.
So standard B2B tactics aren’t going to work. Instead, take a page out of the B2C playbook and think of creative ways to put your brand in front of farmers. Maybe it’s a direct mail campaign, or it’s a targeted email. Maybe you’ll invest in programmatic ads to appear on weather or sports sites.
While phone calls and conversations are important, use consumer advertising as another way to continue the relationship.
3. Use automation & technology to identify the right time to call
One of the biggest leaps forward in terms of marketing and sales is the use of automation and technology in making decisions. And this happens whether a company is a B2B or B2C brand.
Over the course of the buying process, there’s the first time someone comes into contact with your company. And then there’s the ideal moment where they’re ready to purchase.
As we talked about earlier, those two are rarely the same in the ag world.
Marketing automation technology helps you understand the behaviors a prospective customer takes from the moment they start engaging with your company – say, a website visit – and finds out the best time for them to talk to a salesperson.
If they visit your pricing page? You should have your system send them an email. If they click a link to your product page, maybe you display ads for that same product after they leave the site.
4. Establish yourself as a trusted brand
B2C marketing relies heavily on brand. Consumers are going to be shopping for various products, but they’ll come to you if you have a trusted brand.
This is doubly important if you sell products through dealers rather than directly to farmers. You still will want to run brand campaigns to farmers so that when they go to a dealer, they’re already inclined to purchase your product.
While your B2B efforts are going to focus on the relationship, use B2C tactics to build a brand that make people want to begin a relationship with you and continue that relationship because of the value you provide to them.
5. Build an easily navigable website
The storefront used to be the primary place for your brand to be presentable. Now, it’s your website.
Your website defines your online presence as a business. It’s the first place people go to find out more information about your company, and your products and services. So you want to make sure you have a site that’s easy to navigate and makes clear what you’re offering to people who visit.
Invest at least the same amount of time in your website as you do your storefront. Look at the design, the messaging and ease of use. If there’s a problem with any of these, your business reputation is going to hurt.
Here are some tips on building a great website.
And good websites are universal, whether you’re B2B or B2C.
6. Use data to identify consumer behaviors
Consumer behaviors are all the more trackable in the digital age. Thanks to website tracking tools like Google Analytics and automation tools like HubSpot, Eloqua, Pardot/Salesforce, Marketo, etc., you can easily identify consumer behaviors.
Data companies like Farm Market iD also have hundreds of consumer demographics that can be used to build your ideal buyer profiles and help you understand what drives their purchasing decisions.
While conversations are great, you’ll never be able to have enough of them. Use data in concert with your sales conversations to scale your marketing efforts and further target your messaging.