How to build the case for the new mix of media.

As ag marketers, we have a luxury other marketers don’t: the farmer audience is still actively consuming traditional media.

Despite this, ask anyone in ag marketing, and you’ll hear marketing dollars are pouring into digital media. According to Penton Agriculture’s most recent “Ag Marketing Trends & Insights” report, this trend will continue. But, according to the same report, it will continue at the expense of traditional media.

We all know client budgets don’t go up simply because a new marketing tactic is available. And “digital” isn’t just a tactic. It’s a collection of new channels and new production needs. Digital receives funding when money shifts from traditional.

So when should we make that shift in ag marketing? Especially given there is a traditional media audience of farmers?

Here are two suggestions to consider:

  1. Shift money to digital when you can measure its success.
  2. Shift money to digital if you know digital works.

These suggestions seem similar, but they are a progression.

When you can measure success

Digital disruption caused the entire industry to relearn the importance of objectives and metrics. It was far too easy to rely on decades of experience showing print, TV, and radio ads worked, especially when you often didn’t need to prove it.  (Just blame the creative if sales didn’t go up!) Now agencies must convince clients to put their money in an ever-changing digital landscape.

Digital can be a thoughtfully considered choice when you:

  • Know exactly what each digital tactic will need to accomplish;
  • Know precisely how you will measure results; and
  • Know the metrics you will use (and be sure needed data is available from a trusted source).

If you know these things going in, then you’ve constructed a good investment opportunity.

You know it works

So once you’ve successfully tested a digital tactic, you know it works, right? Maybe. If yes, then reinvest and test other digital tactics as well.

If the objective has changed, however, you must revisit traditional media. Consider this: display, search and email will send a person to a website with one click. But have you tried to drive traffic with a combination of print and radio carrying a simple URL? What you learn may surprise you.

“Success” can be vague. It needs the definition of objectives and the context of ROI.

With limited digital campaign history, measuring and testing are essential. “You know it works” kicks in once you have a solid history of successful tests. You still need a plan to test new campaigns, but you can recommend investments based on past results.

If this seems like a cautious approach to investing in digital marketing to farmers, it is! For now, there is still very real value in traditional ag media. Doing digital right is a big investment, and you will almost certainly have to raid budgets of proven traditional channels. Do not just dive in. Answer the right questions first, and you will have actionable results and easier decisions down the road.