Marketing to the pessimist and optimist in every farmer

by Diane Martin
August 6, 2019
targeting the right farmer mindset when marketing

3 Questions to help your brand optimize its appeal by targeting the right mindset.

Most entrepreneurs have dueling mindsets of optimism and pessimism, and both can lead to success.

The inner optimist provides the belief that one can beat the odds and achieve success, despite the many challenges a small business faces. Without it, few people would have the courage to start or run their own business.

The inner pessimist provides the needed defensive mindset, assuming that things can and will go wrong. It pushes for conservatism, preparation and restraint. Without it, more businesses would, no doubt, face failure.

So, when considering how your brand can best target these mindsets, it’s important to understand how they coexist in the mind of a farmer. Farmers must view the long-term potential of their operations through the lens of an inner optimist. Why else would they chase a career and lifestyle that hinges on so many forces completely out of their control – markets, weather, global trade, insects, disease and more? They have to inherently believe they can and will overcome all of these challenges.

However, when it comes to the short-term planning for their operation, farmers channel their inner pessimist. They assume disease or weed pressure will occur, animals will get sick, input prices will go up, and markets will squeeze their margin. They understand they need diligence and preparation in order to take action.

So, how do you know which mindset to address? Here are three questions to consider when establishing your targeting and messaging strategies:

  1. Does your brand enhance or establish potential?

If you sell seed or animal genetics that sets the initial potential, then farmers view your brands through optimistic lenses. The same goes for nutritional additives that enhance weight gain and health or fertilizers that deliver crop nutrients.

  1. Does your brand help to mitigate a potential problem?

If your brand removes a problem, like controls a disease or kills weeds, then you can appeal more to the inner pessimist. These products may be crucial inputs for success, but they are fundamentally negative, as they represent a solution to a problem.

  1. Is your brand a durable good or not?

Things like land, equipment, buildings and storage facilities are all examples of goods that farmers view through a long-term lens, and therefore reflect a more positive mindset. These items are often the physical manifestation of the future of their operation.

Keep in mind, there are brands that will possibly need to target both mindsets, at different times. For example, one could position a corn fungicide as a tool to increase yield potential (optimist) or as a way to prevent yield loss due to disease pressure (pessimist). A lender could approach a farmer about a land or equipment purchase (optimist) or perhaps an operating loan to cover a margin call (pessimist).

Understanding where your brand fits in the farmer’s mindset and how to build content and messaging will maximize your relevance and opportunity to engage in a meaningful way.

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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Since 1978, the ag-marketing experts at Rhea + Kaiser have been helping brands connect with the farmer customer.

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