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

Many businesses, including Ag businesses, understandably fret over how they will respond to negative reviews or customer comments on their social media sites. The truth is, even responding to positive feedback or simple questions can be challenging. After all, you are basically engaging in a public conversation and that can be difficult.

You don’t have to be a social media guru to know that the absolute worst thing you can do on social media is to ignore someone who is reaching out to you. Remember, these are customers and prospects. When someone makes a concentrated effort to contact you, you must respond. This includes questions, compliments, or complaints. So how do you best respond in these three instances? Here are some tips:

Questions

We all know how to answer a question. It gets a little dicey, however, when there is no clear cut answer available. Maybe a farmer is waiting for a much needed item that is backordered and they are wondering why it is taking so long. Since this may take some time to research you can’t be expected to provide an answer immediately. What you are expected to do is to acknowledge the question immediately. Let the customer know that you are looking into it and then provide regular updates. Even if you don’t have an answer, people want to know that you received their message and if it takes some time to find an answer, they want updates to know that you haven’t forgotten about them.

Compliments

Responding to compliments about your service or product or anything else having to do with your brand is imperative. If someone took the time to compliment you and you fail to acknowledge it, what does that say about your business? Be sure to thank that person for the compliment and let them know that you value their business. Such interactions will keep these customers engaged with your brand.

Complaints

Even if you believe a complaint or negative comment by a farmer or rancher is unwarranted you still need to take the high road and acknowledge the problem. You then need to apologize that this person had a poor experience. It also is important that if a person complains publicly, you respond publicly so people who saw the initial complaint know that you handled it. By keeping it all out in the open, you are getting the message across that you take complaints seriously and always do your best to make things right.

Social media interactions can be difficult but they are essential to building brand equity and keeping customers engaged. And it is important that you don’t drag your feet when responding. Studies show that people who engage a business on social media expect at least an initial response in less than an hour.

In today’s digital environment, your website is the center of your business’s online world. Almost every aspect of your business revolves around it in some way.

Customers come to your website to learn about your business. In many ways, your website functions as a member of your staff in that it plays a huge part in your business’s brand awareness, lead generation and customer conversion. Therefore, it is not difficult to see why your website has a dramatic effect on every aspect of your business.

Despite the incredible difference a business’s website can make – both positively and negatively – on its success or failure, many of even the savviest business owners put its maintenance and upkeep at the bottom of his or her list of priorities. Why? It usually comes down to one (or more) of the following three reasons:

  1. Lack of time
  2. Lack of money
  3. Lack of know-how

Overcoming these three obstacles is essential to the health of your business. In many cases, it may pay to outsource your website upkeep to a company that specializes in website development and maintenance. The best part is, if you pick the right company, it will be surprisingly affordable. Further, since a well-maintained website is almost certain to help generate more sales leads, in most cases you will end up making money by outsourcing.

So what exactly does a high-quality, customer-friendly website look like, and more importantly, what can it do for your business?

It is well-designed. Pages are clean with the perfect mix of images, text and multimedia features.

It is easy to navigate. Visitors can find their way around the site with ease. Your contact information is front and center and links are descriptive and logically labeled.

It is mobile-friendly. Whether they are accessing your website from a smartphone, tablet or any other type of device or computer, it is easy to read and navigate.

It supports what your sales people are saying in the field. Your website should have the latest information and be perfectly in sync with every other aspect of your business.

It is full of quality, timely content. You should be posting new blogs and content on a regular basis. Nothing turns visitors off like returning to your site and never seeing anything new. Is your last blog post from six months ago? Not a good sign.

It allows for feedback. When it comes to SEO ranking, content is crucial. Feedback on your content is crucial, as well. Therefore, your website needs to encourage engagement and allow people to comment on your posts. That’s what will get you noticed by the search engines – and customers.

Your website needs to work as hard as you do for your business. If it’s doesn’t, you need to make some changes – fast!

Contact US Farm Data if you are interested in strengthening your website, and increasing your visibility on the web. 800-960-6267 Call us today!

 

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 […]

Ag Apps

It is rare to find a farmer these days that isn’t using a tablet or smartphone. So it should come as no surprise that the number of agricultural apps is on the rise.

Finding quality farming and agriculture apps can be a difficult task, however. This is unfortunate since there are so many quality apps out there that can make a farmer’s workload lighter.

One problem with finding quality farming apps is that it’s hard to know which agriculture apps are really useful. Thankfully, there are ways around this problem. For instance, AgWeb now has an app finder that allows users to search by category, such as markets, business, livestock, and crops.

What follows are some of the apps farmers list as their favorites. But remember, the most popular apps can change quickly – and new ones are popping up daily.

Ag PhD App Suite. This suite of apps includes a field guide, drainage calculator, planting population, a harvest loss calculator, and more.

AgWeb. This app features market news, weather, and other ag-related content. It also is interactive – allowing users to choose the specific content they are interested in.

Climate Basic. From The Climate Corporation, this app enables users to track up-to-the-minute, field-level information such as weather forecasts, soil conditions, and crop growth stage. Farmers also are able to add their own notes and field alerts.

Farm Futures. Farm Futures magazine’s app provides an overview of agriculture news and headlines, along with podcasts.

FarmLogs. Farmers can collect and log detailed information on a per-field basis with this app. Rainfall history, budgets, and inventory management are just some of the information farmers can track using FarmLogs.

Grower’s Edge. Offering a variety of functions, this app includes access to cash prices, market quotes and commentary, news, and weather.

Pioneer/Encirca View. Encirca View allows farmers to record field observations which are then georeferenced for their convenience. When used with the Encirca View website, users also are able to access aggregated data from other Encirca View users.

TractorHouse. A simple way to buy or sell a tractor. The TractorHouse app allows users to browse or list equipment by make, model, price, and location.

Using social media to promote a farm is similar to using social media to promote any business. Farmers may actually have an advantage over other businesses on social media because their story is so compelling. After all, who doesn’t want to know who is growing their food – especially in today’s marketplace where people are becoming more particular about what types of foods they purchase. What’s more, by connecting with farmers on social media consumers are able to engage with the people who grow their food. Farmers can capitalize on this trend and make the most of their social interactions by keeping the following points in mind:

  1. Your followers want to know about your life on the farm. What may seem like mundane details to you are just the things they want to learn more about. Further, if your audience doesn’t learn about life on the farm from you, they will have to learn it from other – often inaccurate – sources that might have their own anti-agriculture agenda.
  2. Social media is one of the only places where you can connect, mingle, and allow your customers to get to know you personally – without ever leaving the farm.
  3. Make sure you showcase your own personality and let your voice be heard. People engage farmers on social media because they want to know more about how farmers live and work. This is your chance to let them know!
  4. Engage with your audience. If a person has never stepped foot on a farm they are going to have a lot of questions. Be there to answer those questions and you will build lasting relationships. On the flip side, you can ask some questions of your own to find out how you can better connect with current and potential customers.
  5. Social media helps you to get the word out about your farm. While social media takes time, skill, and some writing savvy, it is also relatively cheap when compared to traditional forms of marketing. Social media has correctly been referred to as the new word-of-mouth advertising. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to let people know who you are and what you can do for them.

Thankfully, most farmers already are on some type of social media. The key is to find compelling and effective ways to use social media to tell the story of your farm and your life. While it may seem challenging, most farmers know how to meet a challenge head-on!

Marketing to farmers and ranchers takes more than just securing mailing lists or agriculture leads. Those who really want to engage farmers need to use both online and offline marketing techniques to do so. However, depending on what you are trying to sell or to market it’s important you understand how farmers live, work, and use their purchase power.

As with any marketing segment, it is important to really get to know your customers before you can try to sell them something. And the worst thing you can ever do is to make assumptions about what a customer needs or wants. So if you are newbie to marketing to farmers and ranchers, or even a seasoned professional, it pays to brush up on your facts about farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers. Here is some information you should know before you make that first contact:

  • In 2010, there were a little more than one million farmers, ranchers, and agricultural managers. Almost 80 percent of these were self-employed.
  • American farmers and ranchers produce food to feed the nation and they also export to other countries. They must do this while contending with a variety of unknowns, from weather to price fluctuations.
  • Crops are mostly sold to food processing companies but more and more farmers are selling their goods directly to consumers.
  • Farmers also are business managers. They must oversee crop production, purchasing supplies, and maintain buildings and equipment. They also are in charge of keeping financial records.
  • Farmers and ranchers must be part salesman in order to effectively market their livestock and crops.
  • While in the past most farmers had only a high school education, bachelor’s degrees in agriculture or related fields such as agricultural economics are becoming more and more common as farming becomes increasingly complex.
  • The median annual salary of farmers and ranchers is just over $60,000. Incomes can vary widely from year to year because of the many outside factors that affect farm production. Small farm operations are often run by a farmer who also holds an additional full-time job away from the farm.

Farming is like every other industry in that it is ever-evolving and its dependence on technology continues to grow. If marketers expect to effectively market to farmers and ranchers, it will mean keeping up on the many challenges that farmers and ranchers continue to face.