The agriculture industry is a zero-sum game.
Literally, there’s a fixed amount of farmland in the U.S. that varies very little year to year. Success in agribusiness means vying for that limited amount of land by offering better products and having better marketing and sales efforts than your competition.
It takes a concerted effort on your part to make sure that farmers are aware of your offerings, and that they’re talking to your sales reps who can help guide them to a purchase.
Throughout our decades of working with agribusiness, we’ve seen first-hand how reliable data can improve marketing and sales efforts, increase market share and improve business’ ROI.
So here are five steps to building a go-to-market plan that integrates strategy, marketing and sales through the use of good data.
1. Determine your current market share.
We’ve seen that when agribusinesses try to conduct market and market share analysis, they use their current customer file exclusively as their source for data. While this is a good place to start, namely because it’s accessible and aligns with other goals (like increasing share of wallet), it’s just that – a start.
Imagine an agribusiness whose primary market is field corn farmers with 500+ acres. Over the past few decades, this business has built a respectable customer file over 5,000 total customers, the vast majority of whom are active participants.
This is a great sample size, until you realize that there are over 60,000 farmers who farm 500+ acres of field corn. The company only serves eight percent of the total market.
If this company is using only their customer file, they’re in the dark about 92 percent of their potential market. And since, as we said before, agriculture is a zero-sum game, that 92 percent is market share that they’re conceding to competition.
That just doesn’t work.
Instead, use a reliable source of data to learn about the market as a whole – and where you have a real opportunity to expand.
2. Figure out where to hunt.
Once you’ve figured out your market share and the opportunity you have to expand, the next step is finding out “where to hunt.”
Here are some key factors to consider when figuring out where to hunt:
- Location, location, location. If you’re selling a physical product to farmers, then location definitely matters – because you need to make sure the product gets to them! A key factor in determining where to hunt is going to be places that are near enough to your stores or shipping centers that you can get your product to them in a timely manner.
- ROI. You can’t sell to everyone – there are simply too many farmers in the U.S. Even if you narrow your audience down, you want to market and sell to people that are going to end up gaining you money in the long run. That’s why being able to identify the Gross Farm Income (GFI) for a particular farm is so important, because it’ll help you calculate ROI so you know whether a certain group of farmers is worth targeting.
These, along with other factors, are going to influence where the best places are for you to hunt. Make sure to take them into consideration.
3. Target potential customers through customized ads and marketing materials.
After you’ve figured out your potential market and then decided where specifically you want to hunt, the next step is to take that information and turn it into lists of marketing audiences.
This is where access to farm data is going to be a powerful ally. If you have physical addresses, email addresses, and key demographic information (crop type, crop history, etc.), you can build a series of audiences that you can use in a variety of ways:
- Email campaigns. With a list of farmers’ email addresses, you can perform a series of prospecting/acquisition campaigns, and then nurture emails that take your high-performing leads and make them want your product so badly that they’ll make a purchase. Email is a great channel to start with, because it can yield a potential $38 for every $1 spent.
- Programmatic and re-targeting ads. While email is a great tool for direct communication with prospects, it’s not the only way to reach farmers. If you have the ability to combine your data with programmatic advertising, you can create engaging ads – customized to each segment of your audience – to display only to the people you’ve chosen, and on sites across the web. Why limit yourself to ag media sites when you could broadcast on news, sports, fitness, entertainment and other sites?
- Social media ads. Programmatic ads help place your message on the sites that farmers spend a lot of time on, but you can expand your footprint even further – by placing your ads on social media sites. Farmers are increasingly spending more time on social media, making these networks an ideal place to place an ad. Click here to learn more about how to get the most out of social media advertising.
- Direct mail. Even with all the reliable digital channels at your disposal, direct mail is still a tired-and-true way of reaching out to farmers. Design and send a creative and engaging mailer, and make sure to include a website link or phone number so they can take the next step.
The power of targeted marketing is that you have full control over who sees your ad, allowing you to focus your efforts on the people who are part of your “where to hunt” group and not people who are irrelevant to your business.
4. Sell who you market to.
After spending the time building strategic marketing audiences, it would be a shame if your sales team spent none of their time following up on those audiences. This is especially true with qualified leads – those leads most interested in a sales conversation.
Moving seamlessly from marketing to sales is the key to finishing strong and turning your data into dollars.
We can sum it up in one sentence: “sell who you market to.” (Excuse the poor grammar.)
If your sales team isn’t following up on the same leads that your marketing team is generating, then you certainly aren’t going to realize the potential gains that you saw when you were building your strategy.
Make sure that your sales team has access to the same data that your marketing team does, so that they know where to direct their efforts. Plus, if they’re contacting warm leads rather than cold ones, it increases the likelihood that the sales conversations will go smoothly.
5. Equip sales team to have meaningful conversations.
Speaking of sales conversations, one way that data can help you close the entire strategy-marketing-sales process is by helping your team to have more meaningful conversations.
While your sales rep may show up to talk to the right customer – someone who’s engaged and ready to discuss – if they have a bad conversation, then all the work won’t result in anything. Data drove your strategy and marketing efforts, and data needs to follow down the funnel to the conversation with the sales reps.
Here are some ways that you can use data to have better conversations:
- Identify pain points. While farmers have needs that are pretty common, there are some that they uniquely hold. Click here to learn about ways you can use data to identify farmers’ pain points.
- Bring meaning into conversations. You don’t want your reps to spend their time making small talk, but you don’t want them to come across as too aggressive either and scare farmers off. Here are some tips for how to bring meaning into sales conversations with the power of data.
- Tell stories that resonate. Institutions may respond to numbers, but people respond to stories. The key to a successful sales presentation is to tell a story that resonates with the farmer. Here are some tips for how to do just that.