... without disconnecting the current one
For the first article in our series exploring how AgTech marketing needs to change to keep up with a changing AgTech market, we'll talk about the difference between marketing to the current generation and the next generation of farmers.
Marketing, by nature, is constantly evolving. But AgTech marketing faces a set of challenges unique among tech sectors. As the current generation of American farmers grows older, the buying power of farming's next generation grows stronger. This change is more than just the next successive handing down of the family farm.
The next generation is more diverse, educated and data-savvy — and less brand-loyal. They interact with brands and make buying decisions in significantly different ways.
Agribusiness marketers need to consider a marketing approach that includes touchpoints aimed at the next generation, without alienating the current one.
This is not your parents' AgTech market — or at least it won't be in 10 years.
Some things never change, and everything is changing
The next generation is easier to convert, but harder to convince. As the next generation of farmers becomes more influenced by data and social forces, and less influenced by existing brand relationships and traditional marketing and sales efforts, your marketing mix needs to meet each generation where it is.
Word-of-mouth always has been and always will be the best marketing. That won't change. What is changing is how those conversations are started, the platforms they're shared on and how AgTech brands can effectively participate in that conversation. Gone are the days of brands delivering a one-sided narrative. Rather, you should view your marketing and sales efforts as conversation starters and look to stay engaged in those conversations until a buying decision is made.
Firsthand referrals and earned media in trade publications will remain important, but savvy AgTech marketers will need to dive deeper to get the most out of word-of-mouth.
Gaining and maintaining top-of-mind awareness is a critical marketing component. The more your audience sees you, the more likely they are to think of you when it's time to buy. That awareness is often created through sheer repetition of branded impressions. Traditional methods for gaining those impressions, like billboards, branded apparel and field signs all still have their place.
The more farmers interact with technology, the more marketing messages they'll see. This means brands will need to create more impressions just to cut through the clutter. A digital marketing strategy rooted in meaningful content offers a new way to hyper-target those impressions, specifically at the next generation, and often at a much lower cost-per-impression.
Navigating two distinct buyer journeys
While the current and new generations face similar challenges, they follow distinctively different paths to find solutions to those challenges.
The current generation is more apt to reference printed material and static websites, and seek the advice of their agronomist. While it's easier to put a specific message in front of these farmers, it's harder to get them to jump ship once they're loyal to a particular brand.
The next generation is more likely to come to their agronomist, research in hand, looking for validation. These farmers will find the content they're looking for themselves. The question is, how much say can you have in how your brand is represented in that content? A content marketing strategy, supported by keyword analysis, search engine optimization, search engine marketing, Google Ads, remarketing and geofencing can help ensure your brand message is part of the conversation.
Superior technology alone will not win the future for innovative AgTech companies. Rather, the future belongs to those brands that not only continue to innovate their products but continue to innovate the way they make meaningful human connections.
While the way we connect will continue to change, the emotions behind those connections will not. Farmers will continue to trust their eyes, their instincts and their peers. AgTech marketing will always be about real people making real connections. The key is to continue to find the best ways to connect.
Next up: Don't move all your eggs from one basket to another
Your marketing mix should be just that: a mix. Making meaningful connections with the next generation of farmers will require a plan rooted in content and digital marketing, but you can't do that at the current generation's expense. We'll cover how to have two different conversations with two different generations, as well as how to weave a common thread between the two.
Other articles in this series:
About Toolbox Creative:
Toolbox Creative is a B2B Marketing and Design firm, helping the AgTech industry change the world. We distill complex technologies into powerful identity systems, websites and marketing tactics that align sales and marketing efforts, create lasting impact and build brand love.