In Search of the Agri-Marketing Silver Bullet
Silver Bullet: A direct and effortless solution to a problem; an action that cuts through complexity to provide an immediate fix.
I was visiting with a new client prospect recently when she asked, “So what’s the silver bullet—the ONE THING I can do to successfully market our company?”
I hesitated, as I was reluctant to share bad news.
“There is no single solution Silver Bullet,” I admitted, “but rather a combination of carefully planned, integrated activities implemented consistently and purposefully over time. It’s a collection of Silver Bullets working together that will create the results you’re seeking.”
So to better answer the question, here are Paulsen’s Top 10 Silver Bullets for ag marketers.
1. Develop a Strategy and a Plan
Where are you going, and how are you going to get there? Define the five pillars for your company: People, Process, Technology, Customer and Finance. What’s your vision for the future and your mission to achieve it? The purpose of strategy is to make winning easier, and it’s absolutely essential for achieving long-term success.
2. Know Your Products
REALLY know your products—inside and out. What makes them unique? How do they compare to competitors? What’s the story behind them? How do they benefit your customer? What makes your products a superior choice? Dig deep to define your products—do research and ask current users about their experience. Then simplify this information into a clear and concise statement to be repeated over and over again.
3. Define Your Brand
What do your company and products stand for? What attributes have you earned in the marketplace? What personality traits accurately define your company and your products? Again, research will be the key. Ask employees, distributors, dealers and customers their perceptions of your brand. Carefully analyze your competitors’ brand presence—is it accurate or simply an aspiration?
4. Invest in a Strong Digital Presence
I can say with a great deal of certainty that many farmers considering a high-ticket purchase research those products online, visiting the websites of the companies being considered and their dealers’ sites. There is absolutely no substitute for a strong digital presence including a dynamic, mobile-friendly website and use of the latest digital tools—search engine optimization, pay per click, social media, online video, podcasts, blogs, analytics, use of CRM systems and outbound content marketing—all working together seamlessly to present your brand and products to the world.
5. Generate Sales Leads Via Ag Trade Shows
Ag trade shows continue to draw large numbers of producers who are constantly on the hunt for what’s new. Creating a presence for your brand and products is a great way to connect with customers and prospects in a direct, one-on-one fashion. The key is to have a carefully thought-out plan for activities pre-show, during the show and after the show. Make generating sales leads a key objective and follow up on those leads quickly, with a plan and a purpose.
6. Reach Ag Customers and Prospects Directly
Today, ag producers are a very definable and targetable audience. Databases have become more accurate and more precise. Targeting farmers by geography, crops or livestock produced, acreage, gross farm income, equipment owned and crop input brands used makes email marketing and direct mail more effective than ever. The key is to share a compelling message via these direct communications. Give the recipient a reason to respond: promotional offer? Special discount? Trial use? Share their experience? Invite them to an educational meeting or webinar? Direct connects!
7. Producers Rely on Farm Print and Broadcast
Farm print publications and farm radio continue to play an important role in ag marketing programs. Print provides broad reach within a defined audience segment. Broadcast also provides broad reach of farmers with the advantage of geographical targeting within a region, state or even local county area. Farm radio offers the benefit of farmer listenership ratings to add efficiency and effectiveness to the buy. Study after study confirms that farmers rely on their favorite farm publications and trust their favorite farm broadcasters for important information affecting their operations.
8. Develop a Consistent Public Relations Program
Your company and its products have a story—is it being told in a clear and consistent manner? What’s new in your company—people? Products? Expansions? Research information? Interesting customer stories? Ag industry involvement? When you carefully craft these stories and distribute them through appropriate outlets consistently over time, you build a brand perception of an industry leader.
An effective PR program positions your company as the go-to expert.
9. Measure and Evaluate
Have an objective for each of the marketing tactics you employ. Then constantly measure and evaluate results as best you can. Ask lots of questions: What’s working? What’s not? Why? What was the result? Did we meet the objective? How can we improve? What did we learn to apply going forward? What new approaches should we consider?
10. It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint
Probably the most valuable advice of all is to keep on keeping on. Be consistent, especially with your branding and messaging. Give new ideas and new tactics a fair chance. Stay in it for the long haul. Sam Mills, former linebacker and coach of the Carolina Panthers says it best: Keep Pounding.
So there you have it, our Top Ten Silver Bullets for ag marketers. Let us know if we can help and good hunting to you!