If you are marketing to farmers and have a strong agricultural background, it makes sense that you will be able to connect with farmers on a personal and professional level. However, if you did not grow up on a farm, don’t despair. Marketing to farmers isn’t as difficult as you might think—even for a lifelong city dweller!
If you really want to understand where farmers are coming from, spend some time with them on the farm. In fact, nothing will earn a farmer’s respect more than someone who is genuinely interested in learning about his or her way of life and business.
If you own an ag-based business you also would do well to become involved in the many organizations and networks that farmers rely on. These include things like county and university extension offices and commodity checkoff programs. Depending on the nature of your business, it is also important to learn about organizations that are specific to the particular types of farmers you are marketing to, as well. If you are marketing to fruit or vegetable producers, for example, you will want to learn all you can about labor and food safety issues. Marketing to corn farmers? Get well acquainted with the National Corn Growers Association.
Further, if you want to establish yourself as someone who is really interested in getting to know the farming industry, there are certain pitfalls to avoid. Farmers have little time or patience for people who think they know more than they do about the agriculture business. To build your credibility, avoid using farm tours as an opportunity to sell. If you schedule a visit to a farm to learn about that operation, the worst thing you can do is to push your product or service during that visit.
It also is imperative that you ask questions if you don’t understand something. Farmers are more than happy to explain things and will see your curiosity and eagerness to learn about their operation as a strength rather than a weakness. No one knows better than farmers that it is impossible to understand the agricultural industry if you have little or no experience on the farm.
If you think that you don’t have the time required to really get involved in the lives of the farmers you are selling to, remember this: If you don’t take the time now, you can count on making very few sales in the future. On the other hand, when you get to know your farmers and their way of life at the beginning of your relationship, you will in most cases have loyal customers for years to come.