Your agribusiness’ ability to outmaneuver the competition and realize revenue growth in the incredibly competitive agriculture market depends on the information you have to make strategy, marketing and sales decisions. The right data—delivered through database management systems and user-friendly applications—can provide the insights to make those decisions possible.
Having powerful farm data, like the Farm Market iD database connecting 2.4 million growers to over 300 million acres of cropland, organized in a database management system delivered through user friendly applications can be a powerful ally in the key challenges agribusinesses face:
- Drive key business decisions through strategic insights
- Compare and contrast current customers with your ideal customer
- Improve and grow your market and wallet share
- Begin conversations with your key markets through marketing communications
- Engage in multi-channel, integrated marketing for maximum reach and results
- Empower salespeople to have effective conversations through detailed understanding of the farm
This article will walk you through some of these practices, and the applications that we’ve designed to help you accomplish them.
Let strategic insights drive your key business decisions
While intuitive decision-making is common in agriculture, it requires a static market—something the agriculture market isn’t—to be accurate. Farmers are approaching decisions in a more focused and precise fashion, each with different needs and problems. Even though there are overall market trends, but to every rule there’s an exception. One of those exceptions may be your next customer.
In a consolidating and thus competitive industry, being good isn’t good enough. You have to be “great”, and being “great” means being the best at solving your customers’ needs through your products or services.
This is where database management systems and the applications built on them can help. With the right tools, you can answer key questions with just a few clicks. Let’s say you’ve always done business with corn growers with 1000+ acres. Are there enough of them to sustain your business? Is there an opportunity with 500+ acre growers, or in another geographic area you haven’t focused on yet?
Combining external data with internal data lets you ask and answer more questions. Does your current customer match your ideal market? How much market share do you have and how can you increase it? Are you maximizing your current customers’ share of wallet?
Instead of answering these questions through your intuition, use a database with high quality farm data that will have a tangible effect on revenue growth.
Relying on intuition may mean you assume that your current customer is your ideal customer. While there are obvious benefits to this approach, there are undoubtedly possible customers or use cases you aren’t considering. Having high quality farm data to aid in your analysis can help you find new people and new opportunities.
Here are a few practical steps in becoming more strategic in these kinds of decisions:
- Start by recording data in your CRM on customers’ behaviors, product purchases and the questions they asked/problems they’re trying to solve
- Source third-party data from external, objective sources to give you outside information to match (append) your current customer data
- Take a look at the major trends among your current customers for a clear understanding of who those people are—based on real data
- See where you can expand your footprint by hypothesizing new markets by digging deep into the problems your product or service solves and see what other segments of the market may also have those problems
- Prioritize these segments by analyzing prospect spend potential and Gross Farm Income so you’re only going after those segments that can help you realize revenue growth
With detailed information on your current customers as well as detailed, grower-by-grower based data on the market, analyzing market share is simple. When you match your current customers to the data in the market, you can also examine spend potential for each customer, and compare that to how much business you currently have with them.
Use marketing communications engage in conversations with the market
Once you’ve built your revenue strategy, the next step is to start communicating with those segments. Instead of engaging in expensive audience marketing with no clear idea of who you’re talking to, use the data at your disposal to engage in targeted communications with your specific audience.
Accessible data management applications can help you segment and create market segments for targeted communications. You should be able to segment by various demographics, especially the ones that are going to impact your messaging:
- Farm size and planted acreage
- Crop type & category (row crops, nuts, berries, etc.)
- State & county
- Owner vs. operator vs. owner/operator status
There’s no need to be broad in your communications when you can get specific. Marketing is all about meeting the customer with the right message at the right time and the more detailed you are, the more that message is going to resonate and, thus, the more likely the customer is to purchase your product or service.
Here are a few of the advantages you get when you engage in an integrated marketing campaign, targeting your specific growers through email, social media, programmatic and direct mail:
- Multiple touches. People aren’t persuaded or convinced after just one conversation. They also are more likely to respond to visuals and messages that they’re already familiar with. Multi-touch marketing gives you both benefits. A farmer is more likely to respond to an email when they’ve seen an ad on ESPN.com or Facebook.
- Build on each contact. Integrated marketing doesn’t mean you have more than one message—there could be multiple ad sets or an email campaign with several deployments, each with a different message. But as you work out the cadence of these campaigns, you can time them not just through a single channel, but multiple channels. Maybe you want to send an introductory email before you start broadcasting programmatic ads.
- Target the audience, not the channel. Traditional audience marketing relies on careful and efficient selection of the channel itself—whether that be a publication, TV ad, or radio placement—with little data available on the specific viewers or listeners. Digital marketing combined with detailed agriculture data avoids this by letting you use email, programmatic, social media and even direct mail to target your messages to these growers.
A database management system can provide you with the information you need to engage in these targeted campaigns across all these channels—and track the results so you know who’s engaging. This means that you’re not only deploying ads, you’re also keeping track of who’s viewing and clicking on them, driving detailed insights to see who’s actually interested in your messages, products or services.
This involves having done your homework ahead of time to know who to target, instead of hoping that the right person is going to see your ad in a magazine or at a trade show, but also being willing to learn and adjust as more information becomes available so you’re always engaging in those marketing activities that move you closer to your goal.
Effective marketing requires understanding the specific segments of the market. FarmFocus with GrowerProfile is the tool that enables you to do just that.
Empower salespeople to understand their prospects and customers
After you’ve developed a fact-based business strategy and targeted marketing communications with key market segments, you want to carry that success to the final stage of the buying process: sales.
Salespeople should sell to the same people who are receiving marketing communications. Instead of spending their time prospecting cold leads, salespeople can follow up on the marketing communications to communicate with engaged, warm leads. This follows the same principle as the multi-touch, integrated marketing approach we described earlier, but pushes it down to the salespeople.
Database management systems that deliver that data through user-friendly applications can give salespeople a detailed picture of the farm operation before they start the conversation. Having the most up-to-date information about planting, the acreage, related growers and other members of their community, financial figures, and the relevant weather and vegetative events are crucial for effective sales conversations.
This is an example of what we call “pushing data to the edge,” or ensuring that everyone in the company has access to the information that they need to make these decisions before they start the conversation with the grower.
Not only are salespeople those responsible for closing the deal with the grower, but they are also the people on the front lines talking to farmers and finding out the problems they’re trying to solve.
This is where data analysis combined with good old-fashioned human conversation can work together, rather than in opposition. When your salespeople discover things in conversation, they should trickle back up to the strategy-builders who can, in turn, use those insights to guide the strategic process—form new hypotheses, identify new potential markets, better streamline who the ideal customer is and how much spend potential they have.
And when your salespeople are in the field and come across information, they can make some of these decisions on the fly. For instance, if they come across a corn field they hadn’t intended to come across, they can easily access the database through an application and find out who operates that land, and maybe start a conversation with them.
FieldVision is a mobile-responsive application designed for salespeople to have access to data and information when they’re in the field talking to growers.