We had an interesting enquiry recently from a company in the agricultural machinery sector. The company is young and innovative, and is naturally active online. It achieves decent engagement from younger farmers via social media. But they came to us concerned their efforts weren’t reaching the decision makers – the more mature farmers who are often in charge of the purse strings.
Companies selling to farmers should be active on social media. We explored this topic in our last blog, How Farmers Use Social Media and How to Target Them. But doesn’t mean Facebook et al is the only show in town.
Agriculture is a peculiar mixture of old and new, very traditional yet ultra-modern, and to stand the best chance of maximising your marketing reach, companies must adopt a multi-channel approach. In practice, this simply means using different ways of communicating with the different segments of your target audience. Social media might be a fantastic way to reach young and forward-thinking farmers, but it risks missing the traditionalists altogether. So, here is our list to ensure you reach as many audience segments as possible.
Practically every digital PR and marketing agency working today will tell you print and media relations died out sometime last decade. But this is rubbish. You just have to look at the popularity of publications such as the Farmers Weekly and Guardian to see that. Achieving coverage in such titles can do wonders for brand awareness and a company’s credibility. However, there is a lot of competition to be featured so other opportunities are worth exploring too. There are many publications, online and off, dedicated to all aspects of agriculture which are definitely worth investigating.
Regional titles too have their value. For example, the Yorkshire Post’s Country Week, which comes out as part of their weekend edition, is well read by farming communities across the county. It is likely that wherever you are, you’ll have an equivalent. Even small, local weekly newspapers often have a farming page, and can be well read in the areas they serve. So if your farm business supplies locally, they can offer some decent PR opportunities and a chance at reaching off-line farmers.
Let’s be honest, at the right time of year, farmers love a good get together. Catching up with old friends and chewing the fat, there’s no wonder agricultural shows are so popular.
Having a presence at these shows is a great way to engage with your target audience face-to-face, often in a relaxed atmosphere when they are in the mood to talk and listen. In a previous blog, we looked at five tips to make your exhibition stand, stand out.
But events can be expensive, time consuming, you share the limelight with your competitors and they don’t necessarily correspond to your timetable. So, why not consider organising one yourself? If you want to demonstrate your products, targeting small groups of relevant farmers can be very effective.
Sponsorship is another great way to grow the profile of your brand. From local events and sports teams, to big, national agricultural awards and shows, there are opportunities at many levels.
When considering some form of sponsorship, always have the audience in mind. For example, sponsoring a fence at a local point to point is a great way to get your brand in front of farmers. But it only happens once a year. The same can be said about sponsoring an agricultural event. Sponsoring a local sports team might not reach all of your audience in the first instance, but if the arrangement is for a year, it may well do over the course of that time. And it might lead to PR opportunities in the local or regional press. You need to weight up the pros and cons.
Rix Petroleum, a company local to us which supplies fuel and lubricants to farmers, has used sponsorship to great effect. Partnering with Driffield Agricultural Society, the company worked with the society to build a new conference venue on Driffield showground. Along with that came the naming rights and the building was christened the Rix Pavilion. This works particularly well as the showground is the location of Driffield Agricultural Show – the UK’s biggest one-day agricultural event – meaning that Rix’s brand is on display all year round, and is particularly associated with the agricultural society and farming.
Brochures and other printed literature
Again, this is something we’ve talked about on our blog, Sometimes print is what you need. Giving out slick, well designed and informative brochures means potential customers have something attractive to refer back to. A brochure is a physical thing with a shelf life that enables people to return to it time and again, without having to visit a website. Each time they pick it up, it should nudge them closer to a buying decision. A brochure also enables a company to go into detail about their products. Whereas B2B purchases do have an emotional component, often related to brand perception, they tend to be informed more by facts and figures than your average consumer purchase decision.
Okay, so suggesting online PR in a blog post discussing alternatives to social media marketing might seem counterintuitive, but bear with me. Although social media is certainly one aspect of online PR, it is by no means the only form. Many farmers, and the general population, use the internet in a professional capacity and for information gathering, but don’t have social media profiles. So the internet still offers some opportunities to reach them.
Your website is a great place to start. Ensuring it can be navigated easily and that the copy is relevant and easy to read will help visitors have an enjoyable experience. Include relevant, good quality images. Make sure the website is findable. The reality is, people will search for the type of products you offer as and when they need them, so ensuring they at least check out your website is essential for attracting new customers.
Direct communication can work wonders too. Email marketing is a fantastic and cost effective way to stay in touch with people who have expressed an interest in your products, and a way to keep them up to date with new products, offers or any other news you have to tell.
Although this list is by no means exhaustive, it’s hardly rocket science to suggest that the more channels of communication you use, the more of your target audience you’re likely to reach. However, the art is in choosing the right combination of channels and using them to the best effect, so your efforts and budgets are not wasted. And with so many platforms and potential messages, it’s essential to have a well-thought-out tactical strategy in place to ensure everything ties together for maximum benefit. If you need a little assistance, why not drop us a line!