Marketing to Today’s Farmer CEO

Farmers have changed drastically, has your marketing plan?

The upshot:  Today’s farmers are wearing more hats than ever before, and being pushed to embrace tasks well outside of their traditional comfort zone. Seize this opportunity and position your brand as a way to simplify their increasingly complex and demanding role as CEO – Chief Everything Officer.

Just 30 years ago, American family farmers were successful if they managed to grow, harvest and deliver a decent crop. The farmer delivered grain to the local elevator for the current cash price. Farmers primarily focused on managing the agronomics of their crop to maximize yield and keep the equipment and facilities up and running. Yield was the driver of profit margin.

The Business of Farming

Today’s farmers are running multimillion dollar, diversified businesses with all the headaches and challenges that come with an entity of that size and complexity. Their responsibilities include intense capital management, ongoing IT investment and evaluation to stay ahead of the technology curve, daily monitoring and trading of commodity futures, and managing a complex equipment and labor pool that needs to adjust through the season. Success today requires a farmer to be a proficient CFO, CIO, CMO and COO. Grain marketing strategies and capital management influence profit margins more than just yield itself.

In talking to today’s farmers, some eagerly embrace these challenges while others long for the days of old. However, all of them understand that what makes farmers successful today requires them to increasingly shift their focus away from the field. But this presents a challenge, as many farmers do not have the training or experience that would make this transition easier.

When I am out in the field, farmers often talk about how much less confidence they have when it comes to things like managing a labor force or understanding the differences in emerging technology platforms. These are not areas they studied while in college, nor do they have previous work experience.

Farmers have long prided themselves on being true generalists. My dad (a farmer) frequently joked about being “a jack of all trades and a master of none.” In many ways, they have always been Renaissance men and women – mechanics, plumbers, electricians, construction workers and agronomists. But this new farmer must operate as a true generalist at the boardroom level. This is a significant ask, one that presents critical opportunities from a marketing perspective.

New Roles Mean New Challenges

Understanding this current mindset and applying true empathetic thinking can allow your brand to remain relevant and maximize its appeal. Look for ways to position your brand as a tool to simplify at least one aspect of their daily life and operation.

Consider opportunities to help farmers with this transition that go beyond your immediate branding efforts. Could your brand help sponsor ongoing education around agricultural labor management or advanced business management principles? In today’s content-oriented and consumer-driven world, the ability to provide valuable information that addresses these unmet needs can build loyalty rapidly.