Trust Your Instinct, But Only in the Absence of Data

Posted by Steve Rao On May 03, 2018

 

Trust your instinct only in the absence of data

 

We have a saying here at Farm Market iD: trust your instinct and intuition, but only in the absence of data.

Decision-making in ag has long been based on instinct and intuition. And to a certain degree, this makes a lot of sense. Farmers have been farming land for generations, and there are decades if not centuries of institutional knowledge that are passed down and inform how those farmers make decisions.

For better or worse, farmers trust their gut. And so agribusinesses have learned to trust theirs.

(Note: This article is part of the "Agricultural Business" series. Click here  to read the free guide.)

However, relying solely on instinct and intuition it always carries with risk – the risk that you may be wrong. No matter how small that risk is, that’s lost dollars and market share that you can’t afford to lose.

That’s why we’re adamant about the use of data in strategic decision-making. Reliable data can be the difference between a mediocre revenue strategy and one that knocks it out of the park.

Here are some of the reasons you should trust your instinct – but only in the absence of data.

Stay relevant amidst shifting industry trends.

Instinct and intuition come from years of experience – both personal and institutional. As an ag executive, your experience with the industry and the market gives you insight that can enable you to make good decisions.

However, a shifting ag industry is making those “gut feelings” less reliable than before. Consider the following major changes:

  • Consolidation among both growers and inputs means that competition is going up – and farmers have more buying power than before
  • Disruption caused by technology means that the ways of doing business in the past aren’t going to be as effective or profitable
  • Consumer demands mean that companies have to be more accountable in terms of sourcing, sustainability, local, etc.

With industry trends that are shifting, the “gut feeling” that was once foolproof now needs to be verified. Use data to double check before pouring large sums of money into a marketing and sales effort.

Adapt to modern marketing challenges with new approaches.

Direct mail and purchasing direct placement ads – both online and print – used to be the foolproof way to market in the ag industry. And while those methods still bring great value to agri-marketers, their value has been diminished by the advancement of new marketing technologies.

Farmers are now seeing more messages online and being served more and more content. The goal now is a) create content and ads that stand out, and b) maximize on those channels that perform, versus trying to broadcast across the spectrum to everyone and everything.

Your gut may tell you to stick to tried and true. But what if your tried and true methods aren’t helping you reach your full marketing potential?

For example, are you sure that direct mail is a better investment than posting a video on YouTube (the top social media channel for farmers)? Or are programmatic ads a better avenue than a direct placement on an ag media site?

To solve both of these issues (stand-out content and maximizing each channel’s effectiveness), you need to understand your farmers’ behaviors and needs. That’s where good data can help.

Appeal to the modern farmer.

Farmers are known for being traditional – in their values, family life and business practices. But don’t take that to mean they’re behind the times.

Contrary to some beliefs, farmers are sophisticated, especially in terms of technology and other modern advancements. Here are just a few examples:

  • Millennial farmers are some of the biggest drivers of increased technology on the farm. Not only that, but they’re taking sustainability and local living more seriously than any other generation.
  • Technology is driving farm management, planting, weather outlook and so much more.
  • Social media has grown to be an active and reliable channel for farmers. Facebook and YouTube especially are favorites.

The prevalence of modern practices on the farm means that you can’t assume you know how the farmer operates. What they do is changing from year to year, season to season.

That’s why it’s so important to use data to identify their behaviors, not assumptions. Then you’ll know exactly how they operate and be able to guide them in making business decisions – preferably toward purchasing your product or service.

Want to get a fuller picture of your farmers and how they operate? Check out our Grower Profile application that lets you dive deep into each grower and see the reality of their operation.

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