Three ways to put family first when marketing to farmers

by Diane Martin
August 18, 2017

Marketing to a Farmer's Family

Keep in mind the importance of family farming when connecting your audience to a brand.

Contrary to some propaganda, family farms continue to dominate agriculture representing 97 percent of the 2.1 million farms in the United States, according to the most recent U.S. Census of Agriculture.

A colleague of mine recently attended Farm Journal’s Corn and Soybean College and had the opportunity to meet some farm families during the event. It was there that she learned about the additional business ventures that many of these families pursue, such as consulting, trucking or joining the farm-to-table movement, which all enhance the network and profit potential of their farms. Hearing about the level of diversification and family involvement in these operations begs the question, do we as ag marketers understand the value of marketing to the farmer’s whole family?

Many of us feel we know how to effectively reach our farming audience. We’ve successfully done so for years. But have we thought beyond reaching just “the farmer” or the principal operator? Today, it is increasingly important to consider the farmer’s family when developing content. We need to take the time to learn – not assume – the traditions, roles, practices and values the farmer and his/her family share. Learn, then strategically leverage these insights for richer, more relevant engagement.

Here are three ways to ensure family comes first.


Think of relationship-building as a farming umbrella. Underneath lies the farmer, the farmer’s family and even the family’s customers. Engaging in family testimonials promotes business opportunities for the farmer, their family and their customers. At conferences and trade shows, ask family members what roles they have on the farm and explore their passion for farming. Find out what drives those who service the farm and how they promote their experiences to others. The responses should elicit better ways to create empathetical, customer-driven content, not only within the ag community, but also toward those who are unfamiliar with the industry.

Generation to Generation

Ask farmers for interviews alongside their families to encourage multiple perspectives regarding best growing practices, traditions/values and inspiration behind the farm. Uncover if generational legacy plays a key role. Ask how the client’s product helps the farmer, as well as his family on the farm. Don’t focus entirely on the Boomers or Gen Yers, think about them as a unit. Embrace the influence younger generations have upon their peers, as well as the farm and the tools they use to create their circle of influence. This approach leads to human-interest stories, increased creative marketing potential and farmer testimonials that are relatable to other farming families and people in the ag industry.

Remember Your End Game

The end goal is to create more engaging and dynamic content that reflects and resonates with the families your product represents. Everyone loves a story that tugs at the heartstrings. However, the brand message must still shine through. When interviewing, ask how each family member views or works with the product. This allows customers different ways to not only form an opinion, but develop a deeper relationship to the brand that is being promoted.

If you challenge yourself to incorporate the farmer’s entire family into content development, you have a head start in the ag world. Encourage relationship-building, remember generational pull and don’t forget that a successful brand message is relatable and includes empathy.

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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