Using Data to Market to the 21st Century Farmer

Posted by Steve Rao On January 08, 2019

Using Data to Market to the 21st Century Farmer


If you’re having trouble understanding your farmers’ patterns, behaviors or decision-making process, it’s time to start using data. Here are some tips for using data to market to the 21st century farmer. 

The old tricks of the trade don’t work as well as they used to. Email engagement has dropped ever since it was first launched 40 years ago. People are bidding for room on ag media sites, leaving fewer opportunities for new or expanding agribusinesses to invest in ad spend.

Download our eBook: Digital Marketing for Agribusiness

And while search engines and content marketing are powerful channels to invest in, they require first and foremost that you understand your farmers and what they’re searching for online. That’s easier said than done.


Sure, intuition and experience are powerful allies to have. But markets shift and times do change – for better or worse. That intuition is only going to work for so long, and you don’t want to be relying on it for support.

That’s why it’s time to invest in a new strategy: one upheld by data and analytics. With access to the most up-to-date farm and grower data, you can understand your farmers better than ever before, and drive conversations with them.

Here are just a few ways that you can use data to better understand your farmers:

  • Stay up-to-date as farmers’ personal information changes
  • Tailor your messaging, ads and content to each farmer
  • Master the four Ws
  • Strengthen relationships by understanding farmers as human beings

Stay Up-to-Date as Information Changes

Whether you’ve been cold calling prospects or trying to get in touch with an old friend whose number you thought you had, you’ve heard this message before:

            [upbeat music] “We’re sorry, the number you’re trying to reach has been disconnected.”

Consider the following stats about contact info in the U.S.:

  • Roughly 12% of the entire USA moves each year
  • 44% of the USA is cell phone only
  • Many companies have less than 20% coverage of emails in the customer database
  • An average person has almost 2 personal email accounts
  • 49% of people have changed their email in the past 10 years

People’s information changes over time. And if you think farmers are exempted because they’re so closely tied to the land, think again.

Farmers sell their farms. Sometimes, the owner no longer manages the farm but contracts with a farm management service. And their email addresses, cell phone numbers and more could also be changing.

If you want to get in touch with the person who’s actually managing the day-to-day operations of the farm, you need to have up-to-date data. Then, you’ll always have a clear picture of what’s going on

Tailor Your Messaging and Content to Each Farmer

In many industries, smaller companies and startups overtook dominant players:

  • How did Amazon beat Borders and Barnes and Noble and later Walmart?
  • How did Google top the mighty search firms of the time like Alta Vista, Yahoo and Excite?
  • How is your next customer going to choose your firm versus your competitor?

The answer: these companies all knew their customers. And knowing your customer begins and ends with data.

If you’re messaging isn’t tailored to your customer, then you won’t be providing them with anything of relevance. And if you don’t provide relevant information, you may lose their business or, worse, see them turn to one of your competitors.

Master the 4 Ws

A complete and accurate data picture will help you objectively understand your prospects, customers, demand and market(s), helping you make profit maximizing decisions.

  • Know “who” to communicate (e.g. customers where you are getting less than 10% of their business)
  • Know “what” to sell (e.g. a drought resistant corn hybrid seed)
  • know “when” to offer (e.g. customers or prospects who just acquired new farm land in an area of the corn belt that is experiencing drought conditions)
  • Know “where” to market (e.g. an email or targeted ad)

The nirvana of target marketing would be to combine the “who”, “when”, “what” and “where” as part of an integrated marketing/communication message where various communications channels are used an integrated way.   

Applying these best practices in target marketing can increase your marketing ROI, thus improving your brand, customer retention and satisfaction along the way.

Reach Out to Your Farmers as Human Beings

As you work with data and use it to better understand your farmers, remember that at the other end of every piece of communication you send is a human being, not just a data point.

Your messaging should invite your farmers into a relationship with your company, encouraging them to ask questions and offering them real resources and solutions that help them solve their problems. And yes, some of those solutions will be priced and you’ll get some revenue in the end.

Data powered sales and marketing, as well as decision support, will change the way agribusiness operates and competes. You need to prepare your company and your marketing database so that you can survive and thrive.

To learn more about how data can help your company stay relevant in an ever-changing world, download our eBook, Digital Marketing: A Guide for the Ag Industry.


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