county fair marketing to farmers

Don’t dismiss the value of county and state fairs for keeping your brand in conversations.

For a few weeks every summer, many farmers seem to fall off the grid. They’re at the county and state fairs with their families. But don’t think for a moment that they’ve taken a break from pondering and debating the inputs, services and equipment used in their operations.

The conversations are happening, just at a more relaxed pace. Your brand wins when it’s invited to these conversations.

Fair time isn’t the time to take a local marketing hiatus.

Fair season is a time to support your customers and their community, and enable the peer-to-peer selling that often occurs, whether at the show ring, the wash racks or a concession stand. Trust me, I’ve heard pork producers compare notes on scours treatments and manure injectors while gulping pork burgers and lemonade shake-ups before the next class of lightweight barrows.

By support, I don’t mean you should buy prize-winning market lambs and pens of broilers at 4-H auctions. Although I know first-hand as a retired 4-H-er, who sold a steer on the auction every year for 18 years, it is appreciated.

I am suggesting you and your local reps and dealers find fresh ways to contextually place and promote your brands before, during and after the fair. Be present. Get invited to those conversations.

County fairs should be considered hyper-local trade shows.

You probably won’t be selling tractors or fence posts at the fair, but you win big points by supporting a cause important to your customers.

Your support and presence also enables your brand to bubble-up in conversations. I can recall my dad talking about grain dryer capacities and recent seed-corn plot tours, as much as he talked about the pedigree of my yearling heifer. And it usually started because the show-arena announcer acknowledged the grain system dealer’s sponsorship of the grand champion trophy or someone mentioned the seed dealer’s billboard two miles up the road from the fairgrounds.

Encourage local athletic teams to pursue strategic sponsorships which allow your brand to be present and generate fodder for digital and social media content.

Your cattle vaccines brand could sponsor the dairy show or the rodeo, but probably not the tractor pull.  As a sponsor, you then benefit from being a part of the fair’s promotional messaging. And there’s a generous amount of social media potential at the fair. Your on-the-ground team, as well as marketing and digital media teams, can post and tweet highlights of the sponsorship, along with photos and posts of cattle judging or exhibitors and their families in action.  This will generate and distribute content to complement the sponsorship for several weeks leading up to and after the fair – content of value that may also fuel a ring-side chat.

Farmers may take a brief break from the farm during fair season, but they’re still on the marketing grid. Consider their state-of-mind and apply trade show strategies with hyper-local precision at county and state fairs to put your brand top-of-mind and top-of-conversation, online and offline, before, during and after the fair.