Our agricultural industry contributes billions of dollars to our economy each year. Its farmers rely on quality goods and services to help them run profitable and sustainable businesses.
It’s no surprise then that farmers are bombarded every day with messages designed to influence their decisions about who to trust and what to buy. You can’t blame them for being sceptical.
Most farmers are smart, savvy business people. So how do we grab their attention and build trust with them? How do we connect and communicate with them in an authentic way – especially across generations?
HMC has been helping its clients communicate with farmers for decades and times have certainly changed. Kate shares a few things she has learned along the way.
#1 One size doesn’t fit all
Today’s farmers are mostly a combination of baby boomers and millennials, so your communications approach needs to be tailored depending on your audience.
Many boomers are farm owners, making the big decisions and holding the purse strings. So, we need to earn their trust. But millennials are coming through the ranks, so we need to build relationships with them too. They are progressive, influential and voicing their opinions on social media. And it’s not just the blokes. Wives and partners are key influencers and decision makers.
When developing your communication, customise the channels you are using to target each group according to how they like to receive information. What issues are important to each generation? What language and tone are you using in your messaging?
#2 Talk big picture
Old or young, farmers want to know you get the big picture. They want reassurance you understand the real issues and challenges they face and can offer advice and products to help tackle them.
Be brave and take the lead on conversations about topical issues and what matters to farmers. Identify what is relevant to your business and decide what is appropriate to comment on – whether in a newsletter article, social media post or media story.
Give farmers a choice: think about how you can share your ‘thought leadership’ through a mix of written, video and audio content, such as blogs, social media, webinars or podcasting.
#3 Leverage the tech
The younger generation of farmers are tech savvy and active on social media. They access news and information in written, video and audio form anywhere, anytime on their phones.
Their attention spans are short and they have no patience or time for waffle. So, make your point and do it quickly!
Develop a best practice digital footprint to help you grab a leadership position online and generate new leads. Get your website and social media working together to boost engagement and reach.
Posting your own material on social isn’t enough, however. Use paid digital advertising to make sure your brand is appearing in the Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter feeds (and maybe even TikTok) of your ideal farmer audience.
#4 Ditch the sales pitch
Farmers love reading about what their peers are doing, learning tips and tricks and growing their own business as a result. Throughout the generations, that hasn’t changed.
What has changed, with the advent of the internet and social media, is the variety of channels through which we can share those stories. Don’t just tell your story. Tell those of your farmer customers and how your products or services have added value to them and their business – without the sales pitch!
Post them on your website, share them through social and sell them into the media - both on-line and print. Many farmers still enjoy their ‘post-morning milking’ flick through the latest farming mag over brekkie before stealing forty winks on the couch.
Rub shoulders. Network at industry events. Build positive, trusting loyal relationships with influential stakeholders, who are respected by farmers. But do it in an authentic way.
Many of these people are farmers themselves and active members in their own rural communities. Their opinion matters to their peers and people sit up and take notice.
Fostering great relationships with influential third parties will help boost word-of-mouth referrals and generate new business leads.
Encourage them to share your story and advocate on your behalf. Host them on a podcast, invite them to comment on a topical issue, tag them in your social media posts.
© Copyright – HMC Communications Limited 2021