Tuesday, January 31, 2017
Kathleen Durkin, Contributor

Agriculture is a tradition-based industry. Despite the generational tie to the farm or ranch that makes it hard to break with tradition, things are changing. The major change agent is technology. More and more growers and livestock producers—even in remote areas—are connected to the internet. Recent studies indicate that in excess of 70 percent now have access. I see the changes connectivity has generated every time I go back to the family ranch in South Dakota. Farmers and ranchers are making technology an essential part of their lives to gather information, explore input and seek out intelligence about products, trends and markets. Technology is forging a sea change in agriculture, and as marketers, we must recognize that in order to connect—really connect—with various audiences, we need to change our marketing communications approach.

What worked in the past isn’t necessarily what’s going to work in the present. We live in a connected world, where information is quickly and easily accessible by anyone at any and all times. We need to create meaningful relationships between the brand and the consumer. To do that, we must evolve our thinking to engage, inspire and influence the audience, not just sell to them. In the past, we produced advertising campaigns made up of a complementary mix of traditional media. Today, communication efforts need to be less about campaigns and more about a dynamic, relationship-based approach that features multiple touch points at every stage of the customer’s journey. It’s all about delivering the right message at the right time in a variety of ways, from mobile and digital, to out-of-home and direct marketing. Through each of these channels, we need to tell the brand’s story in a way that creates true value for customers as they progress from awareness to advocacy, and develop messaging that specifically addresses the customer’s needs at that particular time.

At Swanson Russell, we do this through Real Connection™—a process that forges lasting connections between a brand and its audience. This is what today’s customers—farmers, ranchers and all the channels that serve them—expect from brands. It’s no longer enough to provide a traditional integrated media approach to marketing. We need to create an integrated experience for customers that comes from connecting with them at key touch points leading up to and following purchase.

Just as connectivity is changing the ag community, we need to change our marketing communications methodology to give customers what they want and deserve: a rich brand experience, not just a product or service. 

See our latest work for Agribusiness clients.

Read more about Kathleen’s background growing up on a cow-calf operation in South Dakota.