If you are marketing to farmers, you are well aware that no two agricultural operations are the same. Fortunately, most farmers are all looking for the same thing.

Today’s farmers—whether growing crops or raising livestock—are looking for information. Information is the most important thing to a farmer since it allows them to discover things that can help to increase output or make their operations more efficient.

If you are marketing a product or service to a farmer, it is vital that you take the time to give them useful and relevant information that will benefit their operation. The biggest mistake you can make is rushing through a presentation with a farmer because you are worried about wasting too much of their time. In fact, if you are bringing value to a farmer—or any other sales lead for that matter—they will always have time for you.

While it is true that in the past farmers were almost always out in the field or tending to livestock, today farms are being run increasingly like a business. As operations grow, many farmers are spending less time in the field and more time managing operations from their office. This means farmers have more time to do copious research into anything they are considering purchasing for their operation.

It also is imperative that those who are new to the Ag marketing world or have no familiarity with farmers in general check any stereotypes they have about farmers at the door. For example, it is imperative to realize that farmers know much more than just how to raise crops or livestock. The knowledge and expertise it takes to be a farmer today means that farmers are well-versed in things like mechanics, business, marketing, science and more. Therefore, if you are talking to farmers, you better know what your stuff because they know theirs.

Many inexperienced Ag marketing professionals also have the mistaken belief that farmers have money to burn. While there is no doubt that there are many farmers who are well off, most farmers farm because they love it, not because they expect to get rich. What does this mean for you, the Ag marketer? Always offer a fair price. Farmers will pay what they need for the products and services that will help their operation but they are not going to put up with inflated prices.

Finally, it is important to understand the lifestyle of your farmer clients when making contact with them. Research shows that catalogs and direct mail pieces work well in the farm and ranch industries; consumer product offers also are well-received by mid-size and hobby farmers; and mailings to farmers at their homes are in most cases the best way to reach all but the biggest farming operations.

 

 

 

Is Social Media the New Website?

Don’t be surprised if that’s the case.

Websites have always been the primary factor search engines took into account when it came to their rankings. But the times are changing, and the savviest marketers know that social media is revolutionizing the way business is being conducted online.

While agribusinesses are often thought of as being behind the times when it comes to social media, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, many agribusinesses have embraced social media and are using it to their advantage.

Updates in Google’s algorithm means much more interest is being paid to where farmers and ranchers are hanging out online. Google and other search engines also are looking for quality, engaging content that is shared and commented on. And where is this type of content most likely to be found? Social media sites.

Social media is fast becoming the website of the 90s. This is true for several reasons in addition to SEO. If you have a farmer or rancher who wants to learn more about your business, in many cases they are no longer going to look at your website only. They are going to check you out on Facebook, Twitter, etc.

Social media is actually moving in the same direction as websites did in the beginning. First, it was important to just have a website. Then you had to make sure that you kept that website updated. The same is now true of social media. Many Ag businesses once felt that if they had a basic Facebook or Twitter account set up they were good to go.  That is no longer the case. Social media sites need to have fresh, new content posted on a regular basis.

Think of your own life when you research a company. You land on a site, and then click on their Facebook, Twitter and/or Blog icons, only to see a blank page, or maybe worse, the last post being in 2014. What did you think? How did that make you feel about that company? Even if it were just for a split second, you may have perceived the company in a negative light. Most businesses can’t afford that. We can’t afford spending money to bring visitors to our site, only to have our website and our social media sites work against us.

Fresh, new content is so important to your online presence and visibility. Social media is a great way to engage and strengthen our relationship with farmers and ranchers.

Many business owners understandably are concerned it is difficult to measure social media’s ROI. And truth be told, for most Ag businesses it’s probably not a primary medium when it comes to a purchase. But it also isn’t a stretch to think that social media plays a huge role when it comes to influencing someone’s decision to purchase. We all know the slightest negative vibe can ruin a deal. It’s always worse when it’s something we could have controlled.

Social media can do so many great things for your business. What’s best, it doesn’t take a huge investment to stand out among the competition. What it does take is some time and effort. Many companies will choose to outsource their social media management if they feel they don’t have the time or expertise to do it themselves. If this is something you would be interested in, US Farm Data can help. We think you will be surprised at how affordable it can be to keep your social media sites fresh, engaged and garnering the attention they deserve. If you want to learn more about how social media can help your business, contact us at 800-960-6267 or email us at info@usfarmdata.com.

 

 

 

 

 

Social Media Crucial to Ag-Based Businesses

Almost three-fourths of small businesses that market to farmers and ranchers say that email marketing makes up the majority of their marketing strategy. Whether for personal or business use, it is virtually impossible to find a farmer or rancher without an email account. And with these Ag professionals using their mobile devices everywhere from on the tractor to in the barn, email is an outstanding way to get in touch with these customers and prospects.

In light of this fact, you would think that every small business would be using email to raise awareness of their brand and increase sales. However, many small businesses are under the mistaken impression that implementing an email campaign is more hassle than it’s worth. In reality, however, email marketing is one of the most cost-effective and least complicated forms of marketing you can choose for your business.

Email marketing offers a better return on investment than almost any other type of marketing strategy and the money spent on email marketing is minimal compared to other forms of marketing. Think about how much you would spend to produce and air a 30-second radio commercial and it is easy to see why an email campaign makes such good sense. Plus, email marketing is able to offer a much more targeted approach.

Email marketing also will boost your company’s social interaction. Social media is what is hot these days and email is one great way to connect with your customers. Email allows you to post links to your social media sites like Facebook and Twitter and your customer can share your email with friends, family, and other farmers and ranchers—across the field or across the world.

Email marketing gives you the ability to track and better understand how your contacts are responding to your emails, as well. This allows you to tailor your emails to meet the particular needs of your Ag customers in ways that traditional marketing strategies cannot.

Further, if you need to get your message out right away email marketing is definitely the way to go. All you have to do is compose an email and press send. Traditional marketing techniques simply can’t offer that same flexibility. And since weather and other market conditions often necessitate a last minute change in message, this offers a huge advantage over other marketing methods.

Once you have begun your email marketing campaign you may be curious if it is working for your business. That’s another advantage of email marketing. The results of email campaigns are easily measured because you receive reports that let you know things like how many farmers and ranchers saw your email and how many clicked on its links.

The more you learn about email marketing, the easier it is to understand why so many small Ag businesses are using it. If you don’t want to lose out on connecting with the farmers and ranchers on your sales list, it’s time to implement email marketing.

 

New Year’s resolutions are really easy to create. It’s the work involved in trying to accomplish them that is difficult. We seem to create resolutions for our own personal lives, but what about our business? Do we make a list of things we want to accomplish in our business lives? We should – not a lot, maybe two or three items that we want to accomplish in 2016 that will make our business better than it was in 2015.

Some examples might be:

1.  Create a Business Plan

It’s simple. There are numerous examples online as to how to build a business plan. For US Farm Data, we look at the 4 P’s (Product, Pricing, Promotion, Personnel. You can also add a section on Competition, etc.

2.  Add Something to Your Product that Your Competition Does NOT Have

This can be anything – from expanded customer service hours to something more tangible. “Our product has this! Our competition does NOT!

3.  Don’t Overload Yourself

You can’t do everything. You can’t be everything. Some questions we ask are:

“How do we want the product to improve?”

“What’s the revenue goal?”

Easy things to do, but no doubt, takes some work to make them happen. Set objectives that will push your company forward, and at the same time, can be achieved with some good ‘ol fashioned hard work and planning. It’s not too late.

Good luck to all of you. Feel free to call US Farm Data (www.usfarmdata.com) if you want to discuss your business, and how we can help you grow.

In the meantime, we wish you all a very profitable 2016.

If your job involves marketing to those in the agricultural industry, you’re going to have more people to market to in the next five years. That’s according to experts that tell us that job growth in the agricultural sector is on the rise.

In his article, Agriculture: Job Growth to Boom over the Next Five Years, Jeff Daniels reports that there is significant demand for college graduates with a degree in agricultural programs.

An average of nearly 60,000 high-skilled Ag and related job openings are expected annually in the United States over the next five years, according to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Purdue University.

Mike Gaul, career services director at Iowa State College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, says people are beginning to realize that agricultural is a good choice for a career.

“They realize that this sector isn’t our traditional what we joke ‘cows, plows and sows’ industry anymore,” Gaul said. “It’s incredibly diverse.”

The demand in agriculture and life science-related fields will be strongest for plant scientists, water-resource scientists and engineers, farm animal veterinarians, and precision Ag and pest control specialists, among other positions.

USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said this demand may surprise people who tend to look at agriculture through the prism of production agriculture but that so much more is involved.

“It’s not just production agriculture now but this is an expanding, entrepreneurial, creative, opportunistic aspect of our economy that I think will continue,” Vilsack said.

The article states that a recent study shows that between 2015 and 2020 an average 26,700 annual jobs openings also will be available in management and business within the food, Ag and related segments.