Farming is a business and like all good business owners, farmers understand the importance of keeping their eye on industry trends. By doing so, farmers are able to predict what consumers are looking for in the short term and provide those products and services.

Today, farmers list the following trends that are hot right now:

Trend #1: Consumers are ready (and more than willing) to pay for the high quality foodstuffs.

Last year, the average retail price for things like beef, cheese, eggs, fruit and milk fell but many consumers were still willing to pay higher prices by skipping the grocery store and doing business directly with farmers. Even farmers who have contracts with supermarkets understand the lucrative nature of direct sales opportunities and take advantage of things like farmers’ markets and roadside stands.

Trend #2: An increase in farm-to table-opportunities.

Today’s families are busier than ever and need fast food options to accommodate their hectic lifestyles. And while fast food is unlikely to go away, consumers are seeking out healthier fast options. That means they are looking for fresh salads and sandwiches that they can grab on the go but that still contain healthy ingredients. When farmers partner with restaurants that provide this type of food they make a healthy profit.
Savvy farmers also are working with food delivery services that allow consumers to cook from-scratch meals while avoiding the hassle of shopping, chopping, washing and measuring fresh ingredients. These types of food delivery services allow families to cook and enjoy healthy, fresh meals without ever having to worry about menu planning.

Trend #3: A rise in the demand for organic options.

Consumers want food that does more than just meet their nutritional needs. They want to purchase food that is good for them and the environment and the community and the world at-large. When food is labeled as helping the environment and small producers, for example, consumers take note. Coffee made from sustainably produced beans and locally grown produce are examples of what consumers are looking for. And these consumers are willing to pay for those labels. Certified organic farms are the fastest growing segment of food industry. Currently, there are more than 21,000 certified organic farms in the United States and that number is expected to continue to rise.

Farmers know that catering to their customers is the key to staying viable at a time when falling food prices seem to be the norm. By doing so these farmers are able to thrive in tight economic times.

Ticks are nothing to be trifled with. Lyme disease, the newly identified Powassan virus, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and many other diseases are transmitted by this pesky arachnid.

Farmers, ranchers and others who work in the agricultural industry must be especially vigilant when it comes to protecting themselves against ticks. Many people believe that ticks fall out of trees and land on people’s heads. The truth is, ticks live in grasses and low shrubs. When a person walks through grass or shrubs a tick will jump out and land on an individual and make its way up the person’s body.

If you are working outside, bug or mosquito spray is not going to do the trick. Instead, you need to wear a repellent specifically designed for ticks. It also is important to remember that tick repellent is meant to be applied to clothing, not to the skin.

The appropriate clothing also is a powerful weapon in the fight against ticks. Be sure to wear long pants, sock and boots when working in grass or shrubs. For added protection, make sure to tuck your pants into your socks. Finally, remember that ticks cannot transmit disease unless they are attached to a person and feeding off that person so always do a body-check after coming in from the outside.

When it comes to breeding grounds for ticks, nothing compares to farms. Cattle, dogs, sheep and farmers themselves all provide the blood ticks live off of. Ticks have relatively few enemies in the animal kingdom so farmers must take matters into their own hands if they wish to reduce the population of ticks.

What follows are some steps to take to manage the tick population on your farm:

  • Keep all areas where tall grass grows mowed and dry. You also should consider applying tick granules to the grass.
  • Treat house pets with flea and tick repellent.
  • Keep guinea fowl or chickens in your yard or near the house since these are a tick’s natural predators.
  • Construct nesting boxes and raptor perches for hawks and owls. Hawks and raptors reduce the number of small rodents and mammals on the farm which reduce the tick population since ticks live off these animals.
  • Vaccinate all cattle over one month of age and dip or spray cattle with tick treatment.
  • Deer can be carriers of ticks so build bait stations for deer that require deer to rubs their heads against a pesticide dispenser or a citrus oil extract. This will kill the ticks on a deer.

If you have never heard of the term “nurture campaign,” it might be something you want to add to your marketing vocabulary. This is especially true if you are an Ag business marketing to farmers.

The business of farming goes through periods of frenzied activity followed by relative calm. To keep in touch with Ag leads through these times, it is important to provide consistent and quality content that allows you to connect, educate and inspire-no matter what is going on with a farming operation.

It also is important that you precisely segment your farming leads so you know what type of content will be most useful and valuable to a particular farmer. Further, you need to know when it will be most valuable. It is this type of contact that will help you to build relationships that allow you to be seen as a trusted resource.

If you are still unsure whether or not you need to invest in a nurture campaign, or don’t know what such a campaign involves, here is a brief overview of what one entails: First, you make contact with a new lead. Next, you establish consistent contact moving forward being mindful not to overwhelm your lead. Finally, you use the data you have gained over time to pinpoint the more specific needs of a lead so that you can better tailor your message as time progresses.

To further illustrate the basics of a nurture campaign, here is a step-by-step guide:

Step #1: Decide on the customer segment you are going to target. Remember, for it to be effective a nurture campaign must speak specifically to one type of customer. This is no time for blanket statements or generalized messages.

Step #2: Offer something of value such as quality content or a free webinar. It is critical at this point that you don’t try to sell.

Step #3: Set up a schedule and stick to that schedule. It is important to space out your touches so they are consistent but not annoying.

Step #4: Evaluate the success of each touch to figure out what strategies work best and which calls-to-action yield the best results. This will allow your nurture campaigns to get better and better over time.

Farmers respond well to nurture campaigns because of the cyclic nature of their business. Make sure to capitalize on this fact by always putting the necessary effort into such campaigns.

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.

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.