What do you fear most? What keeps you up at night? For many people, the response might be snakes, heights or worrying about the future. But how do those fears manifest themselves at work? Far too often, our human nature gets the best of us, and fear grips us. But what are we so afraid of? The answer: change.

In the ag industry, we like to think that we’re used to change. Crops and livestock are cyclical, and we know to expect that no two growing seasons or calving seasons will go exactly the same as the year before. No two commodities—whether it’s corn or hogs—will finish out exactly the same, either. But do we embrace that same level of change within our businesses?

Changing the status quo means a shift in how we do business, how we interact with our customers or how we tell a brand story. Change—within business—is typically treated as scary and uncertain, but it can also create big, exciting results.

A recent article in Adweek magazine stated that two-thirds of marketers say fear of change is holding their company back.

So how do we overcome that fear of change? And what does it have to do with marketing?

Marketing is a fantastic tool for driving change within your organization. Not only does branding and marketing represent your brand to outside entities, but it can also change your internal culture.

Importance of Marketing and Branding

Branding lets your customers and employees know where you stand on certain subjects, because it reinforces what’s important to your company.

Why does that matter? A recent article from Entrepreneur magazine reminds us that anyone will check out your company on Google before they buy your products, hire you to perform a service, invest capital in your business or even apply for an open position. Branding matters—and it can mean the difference between sealing the deal and losing a potential customer/investor to a competitor. Yes—even in the ag industry.

In today’s internet and social media-driven world, marketing no longer means just advertising, even in the ag industry where print media still thrives. Customers expect brand engagement—a back-and-forth type of relationship with your organization. It means they don’t want to be talked at and told why they need your product. It’s about creating an experience that is so emotionally powerful that it compels them to say yes to your brand.

Successful brand plans begin with a vision about what that brand should symbolize to the customer. But at the end of the day, branding is about emotions and how your customers feel about your company and products.

So what should a branding plan include?

  • Goals
  • Clear identification of the core target audiences and their motivations
  • Marketing strategy for every touchpoint
  • Types of content needed to move the brand forward
  • Necessary tools to accomplish producing and distributing the content to the target audience
  • Tracking progress through analytics and data

Investing in Marketing

The story that’s told through marketing has to be shared in a way that is not only engaging, but also easy to understand. Neuroscience has shown that the brain processes images much more easily than words. Is there a way to tell the story through images and/or video, rather than just words? Today’s media climate and consumer preferences demand it.

Marc Andreessen, an influential Silicon Valley venture capitalist, once said, “A company without a story is a company without a strategy.”

That means making an investment in marketing—to tell your brand story—is an investment in your company’s future profits and customers. It’s literally putting your money where your mouth is. It’s also investing in embracing change.

So much in agribusiness today is based around the data. The same goes for marketing. All of that data tells a story. What’s working? How are you connecting with your audience? Do Facebook posts at 5 a.m. in the Midwest garner more traction than a print ad? Knowing that information is powerful, and can help you funnel your investment to the right platforms at the right time to share the right story with the right people.

Making that investment gives your organization an opportunity to clearly convey what you’re trying to do, what the value proposition is to potential customers and how to keep the conversation going through a variety of methods.

Let’s be clear, though. Investing in marketing in no way diminishes the need for successful, impactful face-to-face interactions.

A recent joint study by the University of Missouri and the University of Kansas found that social media use is not associated with changes in direct social contact.

That means that sharing your company’s message through in-person interactions—by your sales force and at events—is just as important as sharing a consistent message through other communications channels.

Change that brings new customers in the door, keeps current customers coming back for more and builds profits is change for the good. That’s change worth the investment.

At Paulsen, we’d like to help you figure out what changes you can make for the good of your organization—and what the best marketing investment should be to help your company meet its goals. If you’re ready to embrace change, contact Sara Steever at sara.steever@paulsen.agency or 605-336-1745.