When marketing to farmers, how do you know that you’re reaching the right farmer for your product? And how do you know you’re reaching them at the right time? Answering these questions is essential for developing effective marketing strategies for agriculture products.
The prevalence of Big Data gives you the ability to know many details of a farmer's operation before you start communicating with them. This level of detail can help answer key strategic questions:
- Market definition. Who is your target market? Is it just your current customers, or are there other farmers you haven’t communicated with yet? Data can help you uncover potential new markets to go after.
- Segmentation and targeting. To keep your communications highly specific, you need to be able to create separate audiences and target them with a message designed to resonate with them.
- Timing. The farmer doesn’t always need agribusiness at their doorstep, but when they do, they need them now. Data analysis can help you figure out not only what the farmer is interested in, but when they’ll be interested in it.
Making the most of that data and using it to contextualize and interpret what the farmer needs is key to a winning marketing and sales effort. Here are three marketing strategies for agriculture products that help you solve these problems.
1. Gather & analyze reliable market data
The first step to implementing an effective marketing campaign is to know who you’re going after. It’s more than just “we’re going after Corn/Soy growers.” Answer the questions your audience is asking, understand the problems they face, and determine the specific products that solve those problems.
The quickest and easiest way to find this out is by analyzing market data. Here are some data points that’ll help you understand farmers better:
- Personal & demographic information
- Crop type & rotation pattern
- Relationships with other growers
- Distinction between acres owned vs. operated vs. owned and operated
- Grain bin count & capacity
- Geospatial imagery of the operation
If you’re gathering data from surveys, not only will you be able to obtain this level of detail, but there are severe weaknesses in surveying as a source of objective data. Here are some ways you can ensure that you’re gathering data from a reliable source:
- Accuracy. Does the data accurately depict who the farmer is, how large their operation is, what they’re farming, and the events impacting them and their bottom line?
- Coverage. How much of the market does the data cover? Is it enough to provide helpful insights on the market as a whole? Can you use it to expand beyond who you currently are marketing to?
- Detail. How granular does the data go? Can you access details about individual growers, farm operations, and field? Make sure you have enough details both on farmers and on the market overall to make critical marketing decisions, develop impactful segments, and craft messages that are highly specific and contextual to the farmer’s current needs.
- Recency. How frequently does your source update the data? How frequently are they able to update it? Data that hasn’t been reliably updated since 2008 isn’t going to get you very far. Make sure you have a source that updates annually or more.
Once you’ve acquired detailed marketing data, you can take the next steps to implementing your marketing strategies for agriculture products.
2. Market to specific segments of farmers
After you’ve gathered the data, it’s time to put it to use by using it to create highly specific messages to farmers. That’s where segmentation of your market by the demographics we listed above is going to help.
Here’s an example. There are nearly 950,000 Corn/Soy growers in the Midwest, which make up the largest segment of growers in the U.S.
Active Corn/Soy Growers in the Midwest by State
But you can segment the market even further than that. You don’t just want to target areas with large numbers of growers but large numbers of growers with large farms. Using the data at your disposal, you can segment and select the operations with the largest number of operations farming 500+ acres of Corn/Soy:
Top Active Midwest 500+ Acre Corn/Soy Growers by County
|Grand Forks, ND||347||187|
You can continue drilling down into these segments which, while small, ensure that you can target the farmers who are most likely to do business with you.
Once you take the time to develop your segments, you can then focus your messaging and product offer on those specific growers. If you have a product that works for smaller farms and one for larger farms, market differently to those two segments. But even if you’re marketing the same product to multiple segments, the use case and specifics in the message are going to be different.
The goal is to communicate the right message at the right time to the right grower. Segmentation combined with custom messaging helps you do that, and you’ll see increased conversion rates and ROI as a result.
3. Leverage data-targeted, omnichannel marketing
Some ag companies choose the channel first—be it an ag publisher, radio station or program, or even direct mail—and then determine who the audience will be. This approach to marketing can be effective to a degree, especially in terms of brand awareness and visibility.
But if you’ve taken the time to develop segmented audiences of farmers and messages for each of them, then you need to market in such a way that you’re reaching them directly. The primary advantage of data-targeted, omnichannel marketing is that you specific growers, not channels.
That means instead of focusing on specific publications or websites, you can focus on specific groups of growers, and target them with a consistent message across a variety of channels:
- Programmatic ads. Programmatic is the automated auctioning of digital ad space across hundreds of sites. So instead of displaying your ad to a variety of growers on one site, you’re displaying it to a single grower (or group of growers) on a variety of sites.
- Facebook Advertising. Upload your data to Facebook to target Facebook ads directly at farmers. You can also leverage Facebook’s targeting features to segment that audience even further if you desire.
- Email. Place a message directly in your farmers’ inbox. Email is still a high-ROI way to communicate with farmers.
- Direct mail. While direct mail is growing less common in other industries, a lot of farmers respond to receiving marketing messages in the mail. Go ahead and use this channel as one of your many marketing channels for added visibility and impact.
The key to leveraging multiple channels is to have a consistent message across all of them. That way, the farmer sees one of your programmatic ads, and then later recognizes the same messaging in an email or direct mail piece. Build a level of familiarity and trust with them through consistency and a powerful message that entices them to find out more.