Investing in youth and education has a place in marketing to farmers

by Diane Martin
May 2, 2017

Investing in youth and education has a place in marketing to farmers

Marketing and communications resource plans cannot afford to cut investment in the future of agriculture.

Think again before you let your support of ag education and youth programs fall victim to the budget squeeze. Sure, contributions and sponsorships made this year probably won’t directly make the cash register ring in the same fiscal year, but there are many intangible benefits that go beyond sales and marketing.

Whether in the form of time, money or in-kind products and services, these contributions are investments in the future of agriculture and the future of your brand. When you support ag education and youth programs, you make a statement about your values that will resonate with customers, partners, influencers and internal teams in the short term and long term.

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Internal Audiences Benefit as Much as External Audiences

Building long-term brand loyalty among the young people and their parents (who likely are farmers) is the oft-cited reason for contributing to youth programs like FFA and 4-H. Others invest in ag education and youth programs for recruiting purposes. Yet others do it for the PR value. All excellent reasons… and reasons our firm makes these investments and why we counsel our clients to do the same.

We believe, though, there are three other reasons – internal reasons – why it makes sense for your ag business:

  1. Training the next generation of managers. Giving time to students isn’t a task for senior managers, it’s an opportunity for younger teams. I learned a lot about people-management and leadership when my boss allowed me to serve as host for student NAMA and ACT visits. I sharpened my critical thinking and strategic skills judging National FFA proficiency contests and Student NAMA marketing competitions.
  2. Morale, particularly among Millennial and Gen Z employees. They expect to be a part of something important. They expect their employers to have a social conscience… to give back. Getting involved in a youth organization, sponsoring learning opportunities and engaging future ag professionals are things that boost the confidence and morale of all generations in your firm. Who doesn’t want to be a part of an organization that pays it forward?
  3. Culture, which ultimately leads to enhanced productivity and profitability. When you commit to FFA, 4-H, collegiate clubs or individual ag students, you reflect your company’s values and management’s priorities. In our firm, we value curiosity and continual learning. We can only achieve a culture of learning if we live it on all fronts. So live it with financial support, volunteering, mentoring, internships, fundraising and advocacy (just to name a few) for a range of student groups, youth organizations and ag education programs.

If you think you cannot afford to support ag education and youth organizations, you’re probably thinking too narrowly rather than seeing it as an investment with much broader impact than immediate financial returns. Think about it as a long-term investment in your brand… an influencer marketing strategy… a reputation management tactic… a training resource… a cultural pillar in your organization… a commitment to the future of agriculture.

We support the future of agriculture and hope you do, too.

 

Diane Martin
About the Author – Diane Martin

Independent Consultant. Before starting her freelance career, Diane worked at Rhea + Kaiser for more than 25 years. During her tenure she put her strong critical thinking and creative problem solving skills to work across a variety of clients.

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