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3 Ways Your Agriculture Brand Can Differentiate Itself

Show And Tell on Dec 5, 2022

tractors in field (illustration)

Farmers are a discoverable audience. As an agriculture marketer, you can identify them and target messages directly. But so can every other ag brand. 

Today’s farmers receive hundreds of marketing messages every season. Each one often looks and feels the same — pictures of the hero farmer in his (note the deliberate pronoun use) field. Turning the page in a trade publication or scrolling through a webpage typically generates the same results.  

While the ubiquity of messages breeds familiarity, it can also create confusion. Farmers forget what and which brands they’ve seen, causing brands like yours to fade into the background.  

To stand out, your brand should create campaigns with stopping power — with at least one element of surprise or tactic that makes a farmer take a second look and remember which brand was associated with the message. 

But before we talk about how to do that, let’s look at how agriculture marketing arrived at this point. 

Ag marketing’s path to status quo 

It’s not the intent of marketers to confuse or bore their target audiences. But the more farmers are bombarded with messages that mimic the look and feel of every other message, the more likely their indifference to specific (or new) brands becomes the norm. 

As a marketer, you have bold goals to create campaigns that move the needle for your brand. But budget and timeline constraints have enabled the path of least resistance where it’s easier to focus efforts on what has always been done. After all, you know what’s worked before. Since you’re accountable for producing results, staying the course feels like the safest bet. When challenges from leadership and legal reviews are also considered, it becomes clearer to see how ag marketing has become reliant on the ‘tried and true’. 

But you need farmers to know and understand your specific product or service — and to buy from your brand. That’s why differentiation is so important. In the field of agricultural marketing, where everyone looks the same, you need to ensure your brand stands out from the crowd. 

3 strategies to differentiate your agricultural brand 

Approaching campaigns with a mindset of making them (at least) slightly different, makes you a better steward of your marketing budget. That’s because campaigns that get attention get results. 

Campaigns that get attention get results.

Differentiation communicates your brand’s competitive advantage — and helps your message cut through the noise of all the other messages farmers are receiving.  

The following three approaches will help you consider your marketing strategy in a new way. Incorporating one or more into your next campaign will also help farmers see your brand in a new light. 

1. Move beyond the stereotypical farmer persona 

Farming is a centuries-old industry. Over time, the role of the farmer has evolved. Unfortunately, though, the worldview of the farmer hasn’t grown as much. A quick review of the agriculture industry’s marketing efforts validates that claim. 

Based on visuals in current ads, farmers are slotted into a narrow persona that has become a cliché. It’s an idealistic picture of who a traditional farmer is and what they do. While it may resonate with some, it’s not an accurate representation of the different realities today’s farmers face. The traditional farmer in the field is recognizable, but it's not unique. The good news is farmers see themselves as more than just 'workers in the field.’ 

Capturing the breadth of personality types and attitudes that comprise the farmer audience is one way to elevate your brand’s marketing above the rest. If you can get a farmer to recognize themselves using imagery that captures the essence of their lifestyle in other ways, your ad will stand out. When defining imagery and messages for your marketing campaigns, consider the following: 

Farmers are business people 

A farmer’s livelihood depends on the success of their harvest. And that harvest depends on a wild combination of factors — some that are in a farmer’s control and others that depend on mother nature. But even in that unpredictable context, marketers need to remember that a farm is a business.  

Running an efficient, productive operation that makes money is top of mind for farmers, every day. Speaking to them as business owners and being empathic to the risks they take to sustain their businesses is an opportunity to differentiate your brand in an impactful way. 

Farming operations are bigger than most people think

The number of small farms is decreasing. Instead of sole proprietors or family-owned farms, large, corporate farms are becoming more common. In fact, sometimes the owner of the farm isn’t even the person doing the farmwork. Understanding this nuance can help you better position your brand with the right decision makers. 

A new generation of farmers will soon be making purchasing decisions 

Ag marketers shouldn’t dismiss the traditional farmer. But you should be aware that new purchasers will soon be entering the landscape. Younger generations are taking over family operations or are emerging as leaders at larger operations. What works for the 55-year-old farmer won’t work for the 25-year-old newcomer. Diversity in audience messaging and channel mix will ensure the next generation of farmers knows your brand. 

2. Explore non-conventional channels to target farmers  

The tendency for ag marketers to flock to the same tactics that others are using means it’s crucial for your marketing to look different. But if you want to be even more different, explore additional tactics that reach the right audiences but aren't as crowded. 

Fun fact: farmers are just as likely as anyone else to participate in activities — whether physical or digital — in categories outside of agriculture. Sports or nature tend to be natural extensions. Uncovering these (and other) adjacent interests can have a significant impact on your marketing strategy.  

Think about the overlap in industries and how you can target farmers in new places. Opportunities exist in the spaces where your audience is – but other agriculture marketers are not. Leveraging these channels before other agriculture brands do is disruptive and will make your brand memorable.  

Opportunities exist in the spaces where your audience is – but other agriculture marketers are not. 


3. Look to other industries for success stories 

Understanding what’s working from a marketing perspective in other industries can lead to groundbreaking efforts for agriculture.  

Industries like technology and the automotive industry are ripe with examples of approaches that deviate from what is “normal.” With innovative approaches that generate results, they can be great sources of inspiration.  

For example, tech giants have moved away from wide-scale tradeshows. They’re now hosting their own branded events where they control the narrative and their audience’s attention.  

Car manufacturers are also stepping out to differentiate themselves by showcasing their products in unexpected ways — visually placing them in environments you wouldn’t expect or elevating qualities that are more than the standard. For example, Porsche’s Experience Centre in Atlanta gives prospective buyers an immersive brand experience. The problem was that buyers needed to be in Atlanta. So, Porsche launched the Porsche Virtual Reality App to allow virtual test drives. Many brands are making use of augmented reality in new and innovative ways. 

Those in the agriculture industry expect to see what they have always seen. But many other industries with targeted audiences and offerings have proven that you can go beyond what is expected and do something different — and see success by doing it.  

Incremental shifts will help your ag brand stand out 

Keep in mind that any decisions you make to differentiate your brand should still be based on insights and your marketing acumen. And it doesn’t need to be a complete departure from what you’re already doing.  

A strategic decision that helps you stand out a little will still stand out a lot in the agriculture industry. So don’t be afraid to do different things (like trying new marketing channels to reach your audience), and don’t be afraid to do things differently (like resisting the cliché in your marketing materials). 

Yes, a differentiated marketing strategy will take more thought. It may take more budget. And it will likely take more time. But the impact — and the return — will be more than what other agriculture brands are seeing.  

If you're looking to set your agriculture/ag tech brand apart, we can help. Reach out.