using facts vs emotions to market to farmers

The right blend of emotion and facts makes for a compelling marketing message to farmers.

Emotion and B2B marketing

There’s quite a bit of conversation out there about B2B marketing and what drives the B2B purchase decisions – facts or emotions. Much of that conversation ends with emotion winning. But what about the farmers out there? Once marketers become entrenched in the world of agribusiness, they quickly learn there are many nuances unlike any industry in which they worked previously. So, does emotion work when marketing to farmers? Does this unearth another nuance in ag marketing?

Does emotion over fact apply to farmers?

Conventional wisdom has told us that data drives most purchases of B2B products and services, ergo facts drive most on-farm purchases. These stakeholders operate against a bottom line, so of course that’s the driving force behind decisions.

Ironically, data tells us emotions play a bigger role in B2B purchase decisions than even in consumer purchase decisions.

This shouldn’t be a huge surprise when marketing to farmers. Farmers are, by nature, an emotional group. It might sound like a contradiction, but it makes sense when you take a closer look.

If you ask farmers why they farm, their first answer won’t be, “to make money.” Their answers tend to be emotional, often related to history, heritage, feeding the world, family lifestyle or independence. Still unsure about the emotion of farmers? Just ask any of them about the best color of equipment, and you will hear a tremendous amount of emotion behind the answers.

Finding a balance

Farmers have a unique knack for blending emotion and data to make decisions. No matter how loyal they are to a service or how much they want a new product, they need the data to reinforce that decision, because just one wrong decision can have catastrophic impact on the farm’s annual income or its very existence.

Like most of us, farmers will make an emotional decision and validate it with the facts and figures provided by ag marketers, third-party experts, farm media and other farmers. Virtually all farmers have strong attachments to the color of their equipment or the name on their power tools. They rationalize the loyalty by extolling the features and benefits like horsepower and torque, ease of use, the latest technology, low cost of ownership and ROI.

That emotional attachment can shift, however, if those brands cost too much to maintain, break down or don’t help the farmer turn a profit – if they over-promise and under-deliver. Don’t underestimate the value of good service in maintaining farmers’ strong emotional connections with brands. We’ve seen where a new color of equipment shows up on the farm because the farmer felt the dealer was taking the business for granted with attention, service or pricing that doesn’t reflect the farmer’s loyalty.

There is no winner in the debate about emotion vs. fact in marketing to farmers. It’s both or your brand loses.

The reasons why most farmers farm aren’t solely financial. They have emotional reasons validated with very rational ones. Farmers make decisions about products and services in the same way. The challenge is striking the right balance between emotional and rational in every aspect of the brand experience. It’s a nuance, and it’s an opportunity for marketing to leverage it when you find it.