It’s always been tough knowing how to sell to farmers when it comes to your products and services. They are, after all, a group of smart, savvy buyers with a keen eye for making sure they get value for money and a return on their investment. So we have put together the 5 key things farmers need to know before making a purchase.
With seismic changes in farm funding and global upheaval in prices, selling to farmers is only getting tougher and brands have to work much harder to demonstrate they can add value to life on the farm and convince the farmers to put their hands in their pocket.
Couple this with the fact that most farm purchases involve significant sums of money and are usually for highly complex bits of kit, and it means that farmers want a wealth of information and support before they commit to signing on the dotted line or clicking on the online basket.
But, what do farmers actually want to know before they spend their hard-earned cash? What should brands be doing to make sure they are reaching farmers effectively? And, how do you give farmers the confidence to invest in your products and services?
In this blog we explore the top five issues you need to address to make sure your agribusiness succeeds in securing a purchase from a farmer.
The famous Yorkshire war cry of “Ow much!” is a sentiment shared by farmers not only in God’s own county but across the UK and beyond. It’s a bit of a tired stereotype, but farmers are renowned for being tight with their hard-earned cash.
The reality is that this is because they are ultimately businessmen and women and need to be able to see a solid return on investment from their purchases. Farming is no longer a lifestyle and is fast becoming a battle for survival, as such, successful farmers have to be focussed on the figures.
I ask all of our clients – and most of the businesses I meet – what are the most common questions they are asked by farmers. Every single one will, without fail, say the first question they are asked is ‘how much will it cost me?’.
What this means is that you have to be able to demonstrate clear value for your products or services to secure a sale from a farmer.
Make sure you can show how you will save them money, create greater efficiencies or improve the vitality of their livestock or crops. Any information you provide has to be relevant to their farm and relatable. It must be quick and simple to digest and, most importantly, it must show a reasonably quick return on investment.
Price will be the first question you face and, if you can’t clearly explain why you will bring value to the farm, you will fall at the first hurdle.
Word of mouth still carries huge weight in the farming world and you can guarantee that farmers will talk to their friends about new products and services to get their opinion before committing to buy.
Farmers want to hear from another farmer who is already using your piece of machinery or product. They want to know how it is performing in the real world and if the claims you are making actually stack-up.
While these recommendations from their peers used to happen over the bar at the local pub, this has evolved as social media continues to grow within the farming community. Now, farmers will often look to their online network for advice and recommendations or will seek out online reviews to get the guidance they need.
What this means for brands is that you need to nurture a strong online presence and work to build a network of brand advocates who are passionate about your products and services and are willing to talk about their experiences.
Another great way to help build this word-of-mouth social proof is to look to the humble case study. While these are often seen as a traditional marketing tool, a good case study from a farmer who is using your products or services can be a powerful tool. Plus, this case study can be shared across your social networks, featured on your website, printed in your brochures or even filmed so you have a compelling video to promote online.
Creating a strong, relatable brand online is key in modern farming. Digital channels are only increasing in popularity in agriculture and, to ensure other farmers can provide the reviews and recommendations you need to persuade another farmer to buy, you need to make sure you are active online, being generous with your insights and knowledge and creating the digital “word-of-mouth” conversations farmers are looking for.
Farming events have been the mainstay of agribusiness marketing for decades, ensuring you can meet farmers face-to-face, showcase what you have to offer and begin the sales journey.
These shows still play an important role and allow farmers to physically get their hands on your products, see the quality, develop an understanding of how it will work and get a ‘feel’ for how it will function on their farm.
However, the covid pandemic had a huge impact on farming shows and demonstrated a need for brands to find innovative new ways to give farmers the chance to get to know their products better.
Understanding the product, seeing it and touching it is another key part of the buying journey. But, how do you offer this opportunity if a farmer can’t come to a show?
Time is precious and many won’t be able to come and see your offer in person. What this means is that brands must work much harder to be able to give farmers a ‘feel’ for what they have to offer.
A great way to do this is with video, creating a film that shows the product in action on the farm or in the field. Talking through the features and showing how it can benefit life on the farm. Again, case studies or impartial reviews can be powerful to help show what you have to offer.
Virtual reality is rapidly on the rise too and could be another great way to allow farmers to experience your equipment first hand.
Competition is fierce and the agribusinesses that ensure farmers can get their hands on the product, either in person or in some virtual format, and enable them to visualise its role on the farm will take another important step on the journey to the final sale.
In addition to being expensive, farming purchases typically involve extremely complex bits of machinery or procedures and that means the farmer needs to know they will get the information and support they need to be able to use it efficiently and effectively.
For agribusinesses, this means they need to deliver complex information in a simple and easy to understand format that gives the farmer the confidence that they will be able to not only use the equipment, but also then maintain it and interpret the information it is providing.
Information is a key part of the buying journey. If the farmer is confident that they can quickly access all of the information they need and, crucially, easily understand it too, they will be more comfortable with making a purchase.
This information needs to be delivered in a variety of formats so it is accessible to the farmer in a way he wants, from printed information through to digital documents, blogs, videos, infographics and maybe even podcasts or VR demonstrations.
Similarly, if the machinery is so complex or the data being generated is so in-depth, the farmer must know that they have fast and reliable support to get the advice and guidance they need to make use of the equipment and get the most from it.
Providing helpful, simple information and guidance that is also generous with your insights and experiences is a critical part of the buying journey. Every farmer will have different questions and demands and, if you are providing the answers and solutions across a range of formats, this will help them making a buying decision.
The majority of significant purchases on a farm are made through long-standing relationships that have often lasted generations. All too often, farmers will be buying from brands, brokers, companies or people because their grandad and dad did before them.
The reason they continue to buy through these channels is because they have established strong relationships with these brands that are built on trust. They have continued to deliver quality products or solutions and have ticked off all the questions above, demonstrating a good return on investment, building a network of farmers who shout about the brand, ensuring farmers can get a feel for the products and easily visualise its role on the farm and sharing lots of information, insights and guidance on making the most of the product or service.
Trust is critical and for agribusinesses to succeed, they need to work hard to build new relationships with farmers.
This involves providing multiple touchpoints for the farmers, sharing content, news, ideas, reviews, videos, blogs, relevant articles, key stats and figures, etc. All of this also has to be available across multiple channels too, ensuring each farmer can access everything in a format that suits them.
Get this right and the farmer will feel like they have a relationship with your brand before they even start to think about buying from you, pick up the phone or meet you for the first time.
In modern farming, farmers need trusted partners more than ever before. They need to know they can get the right support and products or solutions that will maximise their profitability and ensure they can continue to farm and feed the nation for more generations to come.
This is an opportunity for those agribusinesses that are delivering innovative new solutions and who can answer these key five questions.
If you have any questions about this blog or would like to understand more about how to communicate more effectively with farmers, get in touch and I’d be happy to chat. Email me at email@example.com