Interesting and informative blog posts on farmers and ranchers from US Farm Data.

Think of the people you do business with and chances are all of these people have a lot in common. When farmers choose who they will do business with, these people also are likely to have many of the same traits in common.

Understanding what traits farmers are looking for in a salesperson will allow you to better connect with your target market of farmers. If you aren’t sure what farmers are looking for in a salesperson, here are some ideas:

1. Likeability. This may seem vague but what it really means is that you let a farmer get to know you before you try to sell him or her something. By the same token, farmers also want the people they work with to like them, as well. Therefore, it is important that you take the time to really get to know them.

2. Attentiveness. Farmers have a lot of irons in the fire so it is important for them to know that the person trying to sell them something understand exactly what they need. What they really don’t want is someone who only thinks they know what they need. The lesson here is to pay attention when a farmer speaks and don’t pretend to know what they need before they tell you.

3. Straightforwardness. If you tell a farmer you can deliver something by the end of the week, it better be there by the end of the week. In the event there is a problem, don’t try to pass the buck or make excuses. Further, never overpromise just to land a sale.

4. Dependability. Don’t be so accommodating that it appears as if you have nothing else to do and no other customers. As far as possible, however, be there for the farmers you work with so they know they can depend on you.

5. An expert in their field. If you are in Ag sales you better know what you are talking about. If there is something you don’t know, however, don’t try to fake it. Farmers would rather have you admit you are unsure about something and that you plan to do your research and get back to them. Farmers don’t expect you to know everything but they do want to know you are working toward that goal!

Finally, never try to be someone you aren’t. If a particular farmer really doesn’t want to work with you, you are probably better off without that farmer.

Many businesses see email as a way to connect with prospects and gain new customers. In other words, increase sales. This is true for those in the Ag industry, as well.

Unfortunately, that is as far as many businesses will take their email marketing efforts. While no one would argue that email marketing should not be used to generate leads and drive sales, many businesses fail to understand what an important role email marketing can take in increasing brand loyalty.

Farmers are extremely loyal. Once they find a business they know and trust, it takes a lot for them to leave that business. However, that doesn’t mean you should not always continue to work to earn the continued loyalty of the farmers who make up your customer base.
So what are some ways that you can use email marketing to make sure your customers aren’t lured away by a competitor? What follows are five relatively simple ways to do this:

  1. Create outstanding content. There is no end to the struggle farmers face when it comes to maintaining a profitable operation. By delivering content that helps them tackle these issues, they will come to understand that you care about them at all times—not just when you are trying to sell them something.
  2. Offer discounts. The key here is to offer promotions or coupons on things they already buy from you. This way you are thanking them for the business they have already given you.
  3. Provide the inside scoop. If you have a big sale coming up, consider inviting email subscribers to shop a day early or receive an extra percentage off sale prices.
  4. Give stuff away. No one can resist free stuff. Offering a free gift for initial email subscribers may result in some people unsubscribing after they have received their gift, but this will not happen in all cases. Those who do stick around should be rewarded periodically with other freebies and incentives.
  5. Provide some Q & A. When you allow email subscribers to ask you questions via email and provide the answers they are looking for, you will earn their respect and appreciation. You also will be able to use these exchanges to produce relevant content for future blogs.

Email marketing provides Ag businesses a terrific way to build brand loyalty. Combined with its many other benefits, it is easy to see why it must be an important element of your overall marketing strategy.

Let’s face it, some of us look at the glass half full, others look at it half empty. Farmers do a little of both. In truth, farmers are probably neither optimists nor pessimists but rather realists. This means they are hopeful about the future but understand that things don’t always go as planned.

When deciding on how to frame your marketing message to farmers, then, it is important to ask yourself a few important questions.

1. What problem—or potential problem—will my product solve? Controlling diseases or killing weeds, for example, are huge issues for farmers. Make sure farmers know that your product will help make their life easier because it will take care of a specific problem. By letting farmers know that you understand the type and scope of a particular problem they face they will be more likely to believe you have the solution to that problem, as well.

2. How will my product make a farmer’s operation better? Farmers rightly believe that their operation has the potential to thrive and be exceptionally successful. Share this enthusiasm with them by touting your product or service as a means to ensuring the success of their operation. For example, if you sell a product that promotes weight gain in cattle, make sure you touch on the many advantages of healthy and well-fed cattle.

3. Does my product promote long-term success? Farmers are well aware that the road to success has its share of bumps. Before they decide to purchase a product you offer, they will want to know how that product will help them in the long term. Farmers are leery of marketers who promote easy and instant solutions. Instead, offer farmers a realistic timeline for how long your product will take to work. Patience is one of farmers’ many virtues and they have no problem being patient with a product if they feel it will be worth the wait.

4. Is it worth the investment? Farmers understand that they have to spend money to make money. Keep in mind, however, that if you are selling something that involves a significant investment—land, equipment or buildings—quality and durability are something farmers will never compromise on.

It’s no secret that farmers aren’t impulse shoppers. Therefore, if you want to successfully market to farmers then what you are selling had better solve a problem, make his or her operation better or promote long-term success.

Farmers, like most people, want to protect their income as the deadline for filing taxes approaches. One of the most important ways for farmers to do this is to understand the best ways to decrease their tax liability.

Knowing that you need to decrease your tax liability and actually doing it are two drastically different things, however. In order to decrease your tax liability you must understand just what are considered allowable expenses and how to report those expenses.

In most cases, farmers are considered by the IRS to be self-employed. Therefore, they will report income on Form 1040 and then file the schedules that go along with that form. Self-employed farmers, or single-entity limited liability corporations, report income on Schedule F. By reporting income on Form 1040, farmers are able to use the cash method of accounting as opposed to the accrual method. The cash method means that expenses and income are claimed in real time.

The tax code for farmers is different than other businesses in that it incentivizes farmers for investing back into their farms. While most farmers are aware of how the tax code works, many times it remains in their best interest to work with an accountant who is familiar with the specific issues that surround farming operations. Such a tax professional also will be able to check and double check that farmers do not overpay in taxes.
One of the most surprising issues farmers face when filing taxes is proving that they are, in fact, operating a farm. There are various provisions in the federal tax code that define what is considered a qualified farm. To make matters even more complicated, state and local definitions of what exactly a farm is may vary, as well.

What follows are some general guidelines that ensure a farm is considered as such:

  • It shows a profit every three to five years.
  • It is operated in a business-like manner and the farmer who owns it is knowledgeable of farming practices.
  • Farmers list personal money and farm money separately.
  • Farm work and activities are well-documented.
  • Proof is provided that any losses are due to legitimate reasons.

These guidelines, while specific, are not meant to penalize farmers. Rather, they are in place to protect legitimate farmers. In fact, if anything, the tax code is written to benefit farmers and decrease their tax burden.

You might not know it to see all the snow still on the ground in some parts of the country, but spring is upon us. And as farmers ready themselves for long days, they first should make sure that their equipment and machinery is tuned up and ready to go.

Not only will keeping farm equipment well maintained help to extend its life, it also will make sure that everyone who uses that equipment remains safe. What follows is a list of what farmers need to check before they put their equipment to work.

  1. Lights and flashers. Flashers and turn signals need to be tested to make sure they are working correctly. Emblems need to be clean and any worn down ones replaced.
  2. Shields and guards. Check your PTO drive-line shields. Shields should turn freely and independently of the drive line. Further, to ensure maximum protection, the drive-line shields, tractor master shields and corresponding implement shields need to be in place.
  3. Hydraulic systems and mechanical locks. Check all hoses, fittings and seals and replace worn pieces.
  4. Tires. Check that all tires are inflated properly and that bearings are properly lubricated.
  5. Sprayer and planters. Hoses, valves, fittings and all other components must be free of leaks. Any tanks should have tight covers so spills are avoided.
  6. Hitch pins. The locking hitch pins on tractors and implements must be checked to guarantee that they are secure and in good working order.
  7. Steps and platforms. Always keep equipment platforms and steps clean so that no one slips and falls when entering, exiting or standing on equipment.

No matter what make or model of equipment you own, make sure you are familiar with the owner’s manual. This ensures that you will have all the information necessary for its particular service and maintenance requirements.

Getting your tractors and other equipment ready for spring doesn’t need to take a long time but it will pay off in the long run. After all, there is nothing worse than being slowed down by a breakdown after work has begun in the fields and around the farm.
Finally, it is always a good idea to have a strong relationship with your equipment dealer. That way if there is a major issue with your equipment you have someone to turn to for help instead of scrambling to find someone at the last minute.

One of the most common mistakes Ag-based businesses make when marketing to farmers is to group all farmers into the same category. This is not just a common mistake, it is a costly one,
as well.
It is important for agricultural businesses to recognize that all farmers are not the same. For example, a young farmer just starting out on his or her own is going to be swayed by a different message than a much-older farmer who has weathered decades of life on the farm.
So who are today’s farmers and how can each group of these farmers best be approached? Read on to find out.

  1. Experienced farmers. This group of farmers still owns his or her farm but is no longer running its day-to-day operations. They are fiercely loyal to the Ag-based businesses that helped them get where they are today. They also respond to more traditional forms of marketing such as direct mail and sales calls.
  2. Take-charge farmers. Like their predecessors above, these farmers own their farms but remain in charge of the day-to-day operations. They are fiercely loyal to certain brands and businesses but are open to change, especially if they feel they are not getting the most bang for their buck. These farmers respond to old and new forms of marketing but prefer to close a deal with a handshake.
  3. Couples. There are several husband and wife teams who run their farm together. Decisions are usually made jointly and those decisions are revisited regularly. In other words, they are always looking for a better value or better product. Farm couples are extremely comfortable with digital marketing.
  4. Managers. These types of farmers may work on a family farm or run a division of a larger, corporate farm. They are loyal to a brand as long as that brand continues to add value to their operation. Managers want to make sure the companies they work with have corporate and social policies in line with their own way of thinking. Digital marketing is second nature to these individuals.
  5. The up-and-comers. These are the future of farming. They can be interns or entry-level workers on a corporate or family farm. They are loyal to companies that engage with them and help them do their job better. These up and comers want to see more than just digital marketing, they want innovative ideas on how to make their mark in the agricultural community.

For years, farmers have been viewed as one large target audience. But the most effective Ag marketers understand that this is not the best approach. Instead, this traditionally large target audience must be broken down into much small segments so that you can best speak to your target market of farmers.