The rise of Big Data gives agribusinesses the ability to know the details of a farmer's operation before you approach them in marketing and sales. Here's how to put those agriculture market insights to use.
Instead of making decisions based solely on their instinct, farmers are now using data and technology to inform their decision-making. From what crops to plant, when to plant them and dozens of other crucial decisions, data is making a significant impact among farmers. It gives them more confidence that they’ll produce positive results from the decisions they’re making.
The biggest challenge you’ll face in any given campaign is making sure your messaging is consistent across your various channels – especially if you’re working across teams. Many companies have trouble coordinating and interpreting big data sets among multiple departments, vendors and launch dates that typically accompany an integrated marketing campaign.
Here’s a step-by-step process to use data to tell consistent, effective stories in your sales efforts:
Gather Data from Reliable Source(s)
It’s probably obvious that you need to be gathering data only from reliable sources. Whether you’re mining for yourself (a time-consuming option) or investing in a data service like Farm Market iD, you need to make sure that your data is legally sourced, verified and accurate.
Here are some data points to gather that’ll help you understand farmers better:
- Personal information of farmer
- Relation to other farmers
- Crop rotation data
- Crop yield data
- Number of acres they farm
If you’re gathering data from self-reporting – like a survey – you’ll need to make sure all the data can be verified. Self-reporting has limits and shortfalls (read more about that here), so you need to be absolutely confident that your data is accurate.
Use Data to Tell Stories That Resonate With Farmers
After you’ve used data to understand your audience, start using data to tell stories that will resonate with your farmers. These stories will provide the basis of your integrated marketing campaigns.
Take crop rotation, for example. If you have a combination of grower and geospatial data, you can tell how many farmers are growing a certain crop within your area of service. But if they rotate and grow something different the following year, you’ll want to know that so you can accurately provide the goods and services they need. Without that data, you’d be providing services for the wrong crop, opening the door for your competitors to swoop in and steal your business.
A few years ago, Bolthouse Farms spearheaded a collaborative effort against the junk food industry with a campaign featuring peeled baby carrots. At the Produce Marketing Association Fresh Summit, CEO Jeff Dunn said the campaign intended to increase the demand for baby carrots, especially among millennial consumers.
Bolthouse’s data told them that millennials “care about doing business and consuming from brands that care about more than making a product. They’re particularly interested in the story around how we source food.”
They used their data to tell a story: a story about their brand and how they were standing against the junk food industry. Because they knew what their audience wanted, they were able to run an integrated campaign across multiple channels – including social media – that brought them great success.
Spread Stories Across Multiple Channels
Agri-marketers are most effective when they combine data with an integrated marketing strategy. Integrated marketing is a communication strategy that blends various communication methods using consistent messages to various targeted markets. Here are some channels you should be using:
- This is the most tried-and-true way to communicate with farmers. (Here’s a guide to get started with email marketing if you haven’t already.)
- Virtually everyone’s on Facebook – nearly 2 billion monthly active users. Even if you think your farmers aren’t there, think again.
- Twitter. This is the easiest social for organic growth and community-building. Plus, you may be able to reach some millennial farmers and invest in the next generation.
- While you certainly can pay to rank on search engines, there are probably some search terms that you can rank for organically. Focus on writing content specifically geared toward the issues your farmers care about (your data should tell you this), and you have another basically free way to build an audience.
- Direct Mail. Direct mail is alive and well in the ag industry. Use it to your advantage as part of your campaigns.
These are just a few channels to use – there certainly are more. The goal is to find out what works best for you and what best connects you with your audience.
Using the data to tell a story that’s consistently told across all channels helps to ensure that it helps rather than hinder your efforts. It ensures that the story is consistent across the board among all parties involved in designing and managing the campaign.
Big data has permeated almost every aspect of the farming journey. Using data, agri-marketers can learn more about crops, target audiences and market conditions. This data leads to a better understanding of farmers, and can help you tell stories that resonate with those farmers. After that, creating a consistent integrated marketing campaign is easy.