The internet is your new tradeshow

In the world of ag, online customer advocacy is rapidly becoming the initial research and “kick the tires” opportunity for your brand.

Farmers are like us. Sounds obvious enough, but sometimes it takes some good old-fashioned conversation to remind us of that.

While home the other weekend, I was talking to my dad (an Illinois corn and soy farmer) about one of the newer herbicides on the market this year. When I asked him if he was considering using it, his answer surprised me.  “Not really. I did a quick search and couldn’t find any farmers or retailers talking about it online. If I can’t find that, it’s a non-starter.”

But why should we find that surprising? Where do any of us go first to do initial research around a major purchase decision? What do we expect to see?  What do we do if we can’t find other consumers sharing their opinions or experiences? We move on to the next brand.

Years ago, farmers would go to trade shows to learn more details around newer products and services. But does my dad’s behavior signal that the internet is the new ag trad eshow?

Granted we can’t rely on a focus group of one. And, it is potentially hazardous to assert that farm purchase decisions follow the same patterns as general consumer purchases when they’re B2B decisions. A recent DemandGen Report on B2B Content Preferences Survey confirms this online trade show behavior among the broader B2B purchase decision-makers as well:

  • 68 percent gave more credence to peer reviews and user-generated content
  • 87 percent gave more credence to industry influencer content
  • Willingness to consider vendor/company content as trustworthy dropped to a low of 34 percent

So, it appears the age of AgYelp (trademark pending, so don’t get any ideas) is here to stay. At first glance, our industry has always leveraged the power of a testimonial better than most. But we are not consistently making the jump to today’s need to ensure we have easily, discoverable customer advocacy content. Here are four things you can do to ensure your brand is enabling an AgYelp experience and delivering the content your customers are demanding to be in the consideration set.

  1. Create Conversations – Incentivize farmers to share their experiences in the form of ratings and reviews, even on your own site. Capture their name and location along with consent to use their submission. Build a landing page and make their submissions searchable by geo, product or rating.
  2. Tell Stories – Work to capture video testimonials/successes of your customers in their own words. Leverage across multiple platforms, especially with native advertising on a growing number of ag media sites.
  3. Say Thank You – A simple mailing thanking your customers dramatically increases satisfaction ratings and increases the likelihood for organic advocacy online and in the real world.
  4. Have a Message Board Strategy – Be transparent and consistent on message boards. Be willing to address negative feedback, answer questions or provide information (when asked for it). Do NOT use this as a chance to sell or push product benefits. Be a resource when farmers are looking for it, and they will welcome you.

Farmer research behavior is changing and customer advocacy is your ticket to make the short list. Are you ensuring that content exists and that farmers can find it easily?