Banks that offer farm and ag loans are faced with a difficult task, how can I specifically market my product to farmers? Most banks offer business and commercial loans but the agriculture industry is unique and although farms are businesses, they operate in a different way than traditional businesses.
According to an industry report from IBIS World, Agriculture Banks in the US have a market size of $16 billion between about 8k businesses. What can your bank do to target the agribusiness sector specifically and how can you differentiate yourself from your immediate competitors?
This article will provide you tips to better market your agribusiness products specifically to farmers.
Farms work on a different schedule than most businesses. It is extremely important to understand that farmers can only make decisions during certain times of the year. For example, a farmer in one geographic location could be making their business decisions at a completely different time than a farmer in a different location depending on what they grow and what season is their peak season.
Your bank needs to be familiar with your geographic region and should understand when you to target agribusiness customers during their decision making period.
Agribusiness is a bottom line driven industry, at the end of the day if a farm is not selling their products, they are not making money. Banks should position themselves as an ally to farmers but not promise massive quick gains without a plan. Let your target customers know that you can provide quick access to funding to help them grow.
Use your Experience
In the past, many agribusinesses would base their decisions on gut instinct and intuition. As farms have started to shift into the digital age, farmers have as well. Your banks experience and past data is something that is extremely valuable to farmers.
Although agribusiness has moved further into the digital age, proven results are still the most important factor when making any decisions, so having experience working with other farmers and having any proven results is important.
Because not all banks offer agribusiness loans you have a leg up.
“Understanding the demographics of the Agri target market in your financial institution’s markets is key to having success with your Ag marketing efforts. If you aren’t familiar with a particular area, try reaching out to the local USDA office or Google search the Census of Agriculture for your market’s county profile. Once you understand who you’re marketing to, you can fine tune the messaging, deliverables and media placement. Additionally, if your lenders have actual experience in the field, capitalize on that. Farmers, like anyone else, want someone to help that “gets it.” Knowing that a lender has hands on experience and can act as a resource to a farmer is invaluable.” ~Hannah Stone, Marketing Director, CS Bank
Although agribusiness has been traditionally slow to adapt to modern trends, there has been a digital embrace in recent years.
According to MarketingtoFarmers.com, “Several ag studies show that Millennials have uniquely positioned themselves to help the ag industry deal with difficult issues, such as technology advances, safety in food production, an aging workforce and economic considerations”.
Like most other industries, agribusiness is slowly being turned over to millennials. More and more millennials are becoming the decision makers and are looking for solutions digitally. When looking to target farmers directly, banks can advertise digitally on different agriculture related sites, but should not stop there.
Farmers, like the rest of us, are using the internet for entertainment as well, by geotargeting more rural areas banks can widen the scope of their advertising beyond just the agriculture/ agribusiness related websites.
Similarly, social media has become a very large factor in the decision making process for farmers. Social communities related to farming have connected farmers more than ever before, establishing yourself as a brand that people can trust can go a long way within these communities.
These digital communities don’t just stop at social media networks, according to a study provided by Marketingtofarmers.com, 44% of farmers in the study said that they watch videos to acquire information on products and services for their farm. And over 50% of farmers from the study said they are using YouTube every month.
Targeting these channels with advertising is a great way to specifically target farmers but your bank should also look to create a wide variety of sharable quality content specifically geared toward educating farmers about different products.
Do not Assume all Farmers are Alike
One common mistake when marketing to farmers is assuming that all farmers are alike. Your first step when looking to market to farmers should be to learn about the variety of farm types and farmers out there.
If you think about any farming community you can have an extremely wide variety of farms, ranging from farms that raise livestock, farms that grow certain types of crops, farms that provide milk or eggs and many more.
Farms come in all different sizes all well, some have full time year round help, some rely on seasonal help and so on. When viewing the agribusiness sector as a whole you can see that it is not all the same, and your marketing should reflect that.
Overall, marketing to the agribusiness sector is not very different from any other industry. You need to educate yourself on that industry and speak their language if you want to successfully target prospects. Having a deeper understanding of how farms operate and their decision making timeline will help put your bank is a greater position to succeed.
Need help improving your Ag Marketing Strategy?
Instead of trying to do it yourself, partner with a bank-focused digital marketing agency that already knows how to market to the agriculture sector for financial institutions. Contact a digital marketing nerd today to get started!