Marketing to farmers is no easy task. More than most, the agriculture industry is subject to rapid change from year to year. Market conditions and other variables in the industry can also shift drastically from season to season, forcing a complete overhaul of your B2B strategy at a moment’s notice.

While agricultural marketing can be challenging, there are some marketing fundamentals that apply to all market segments, from farmers to fitness club owners. These fundamentals include the following:

  • Marketing strategy, tactics and media must match the sales cycle
  • Buyer responses are emotional, not rational
  • Budgets must always go further than the last fiscal year

The best way to market to farmers and gain quality agriculture leads is to really get to know farmers and understand what they face on a day-to-day basis. By doing this, you can tailor your B2B strategy to fit their needs.

The first thing to understand about the agriculture industry is that it has changed drastically in the last quarter century. Production farming today is capital-intensive and driven by technology. Farmers also face a more volatile marketplace, constantly-increasing state and federal regulations, and unpredictable weather (when it comes to farming, some things never change).

While farming is a business, that doesn’t mean it is any less of a lifestyle than it was in years past. Never forget that farmers are stewards of the land and anything to do with the land is very important to them.

Another challenge of marketing to farmers is that they are very loyal. That means their purchasing decisions can be very emotional. Despite logical proof that you provide a better product or price, the loyalty of most farmers makes it hard for them to switch dealers or brands. Of course, this can also work in your favor in that if you do establish a good working relationship with a farmer, chances are you can count on that relationship to last.

While marketing to farmers can be a daunting task, it is certainly not impossible and well worth the effort. The best way to engage with farmers is to always seek to gain a practical understanding of their business, keep in touch with them over the long term, and bring them information that is of value to their operation.

 

 

 

The increasing cost of cash rent is leading many farmers to ask themselves if it is time to give up the lease on their farmland. Of course, the answer to this question has almost everything to do with the financial health of the operation.

In her article, Cash Rent Increases: When is the Right Time to Give Up a Lease?, the executive director of Nebraska Farm Business Inc., Tina Barrett, stresses that reducing cash rent is not a one-sided story.

Landowners have seen their own rapidly increasing costs. The average personal property and real estate taxes paid per acre has also been increasing. In the same 10-year period, this cost has also increased from $29.22 to $55.71.

But no matter how many sides to the story, the reality is that cash rents have doubled in the last 10 years. In Nebraska, that number has risen from $127.71 to $258.11. With cash rent now accounting for more than 30 percent of the total cost of irrigated corn, producers have no choice but to consider how to reduce this expense.

While no one wants to lose money at the end of each year, giving up land is something most producers want to avoid at all costs. This is especially true since while giving up land may reduce expenses, it also means there is less opportunity to make money. Giving up land has other implications, as well.

The likelihood of ever having the opportunity to farm that ground again once you give it up is slim. It is also tough to find additional ground to farm when the markets turn around.

Some operators have more time than others to make these types of tough decisions. Highly-leveraged operations with significant amounts of high-rent land require quicker action than those with low debt and few acres. And operators who have been around longer and have more net worth built up have more wiggle room than farmers just starting out. In the end, each situation is unique and as difficult as it may be, tough decisions need to be made.

Soil conservation is all over the news these days and its proponents and critics have a lot to say about it. Soil conservation farming is a movement that supports leaving fields untilled and using soil-enhancing methods to revive degenerated land. Proponents of soil conservation farming claim that this method of farming minimizes erosion and encourages plant growth.

These proponents also claim that farmers that employ soil conservation farming methods will see an increase in profits because crops raised using this method grow and flourish even through periods of drought or flooding. While farmers have been known to be wary of new methods, soil conservation farming is gaining ground. Statistics show that over the last 10 years, roughly 35 percent of crops in the United States were raised using soil conservation methods and no-tillage acres have almost doubled since 2000.

Acres planted with cover crops is also on the rise, although the percentage of these crops is still relatively low. Cover crops – such as legumes – are rotated with cash crops and cover the soil all year, acting as green manure.

Soil conservation farming advocates claim that by leaving fields unplowed and using cover crops, which act as sinks for nitrogen and other nutrients, farmers are able to increase the percentage of organic matter in the soil. And soil with more organic matter can absorb and retain more water.

These methods of farming are growing in popularity among some farmers. These farmers list several reasons why they have employed soil conservation methods. These include the threat of government regulation over agricultural pollution, extreme weather, increasing production costs, and a shortage of labor.

But not everyone believes soil conservation farming will benefit farmers. Critics say the method is not practical for most farmers and is too expensive. They also say farmers who use this method have a difficult time controlling weeds, are limited on how early they can plant their crops, and that it is difficult to deal with the residue that is left behind when fields are not tilled.

One thing is for sure. Farmers who want to reap the benefits of soil conservation farming need to possess one important quality: patience. It can take years for soil to recover. For this reason, many farmers try it for a year or two and then give up. Farmers who have stuck with these methods say they have had to embrace trial and error as there is no exact formula that works for every crop or piece of land.

 

 

If you own a business that markets to farmers or ranchers, getting that business up and running online can seem like a Herculean task. When it finally goes live, it may be tempting to sit back and bask in your accomplishment but that is the last thing you should do.

While it’s true that more than 90 percent of farmers and ranchers will go online to look for products and services, just because you are online doesn’t mean they will be able to find you. In fact, not actively promoting your brand online is the same as not being online at all.

According to The First 5 Things to Do After Getting Your Business Online, an article by the small business editor at Small Business Trends, there are some critical steps you need to take to keep your business moving forward after it goes online.

  1. Use your domain name to promote your brand
  2. Create lots and lots (did we mention a lot) of content
  3. Find customers through email, social media, and search engine optimization
  4. Create ecommerce capabilities and/or capture leads online
  5. Remain flexible and open to new ways of doing things

Don’t get discouraged if you can’t accomplish every item on this list immediately or perfectly. The important thing is that you have a plan and continue to work toward your online goals.

Keep track of what you learn and don’t be afraid to make adjustments along the way. As your needs change, you may need a full-fledged ecommerce site or you may want to make your website mobile-friendly.

Of course, if you feel that you are in over your head when it comes to getting notice online, it might be time to enlist some help. At US Farm Data, we have helped people just like you create content, actively connect with new farming and ranching customers, and capture leads. And that is just the beginning.

Finally, remember that just because your agriculture business is online, it doesn’t mean you can only use online methods to get it noticed. A combination of online and offline marketing tactics is usually the best strategy for getting your business noticed.