Like every industry in the United States, farming is growing and changing. With those changes came small farms that decided to go in a new direction—like my family’s farm. When my dad was discharged from the Air Force, he took over farming the family farm while beginning a career in airplane electrical systems. Because doing both proved not to be feasible, he decided to take a step back from the row crop aspect of the farm and began leasing out the tillable ground.
I am the 5th generation to grow up and live on our family farm. We still lease out the tillable ground, but we also have a small hay operation for our personal use. At 26, I represent the next generation of landowners.
Changes in Agricultural Marketing
Formal business marketing—not to be confused with crop marketing—is relatively new to agriculture. The way consumers gather information has changed, and consumers within the agriculture industry are no exception. Traditionally, marketing meant paid advertisements or word of mouth. The idea was to push out large quantities of marketing messages in hopes of reaching the target market somewhere in the mix. Sure, phone book ads and coffee shop talks still have their place, but farm businesses can be smarter by providing customized, targeted messaging that creates a more personalized experience. In addition to more traditional marketing efforts like newsletters and brochures, digital efforts like websites and social media are becoming more and more important to farming operations around the country.
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Marketing to the Next Generation of Landowners
Web-based marketing techniques are more important than ever as the next generation of landowners turns to search engines to gather information. Websites are beneficial to those who are trying to reach landowners who might not be in the immediate area. Potential landowners may not live right down the street; they might live hours or thousands of miles away from the farm. A website can provide a concise depiction of your farm and the benefits of working with you. A strong website should have:
- A detailed explanation about what makes your farm operation different
- Benefits that you offer to your landlords
- Clean, weed-free photos of your operation
- A personal section about your family and the farm’s history
- Easily accessible contact information
Blogging is another great way to educate people about not only your farm but also about the agriculture industry in general. No one knows more about your farm than you, so make sure you’re the one telling your story! Blogging can help readers connect with your farm operation. Posting educational and helpful articles can help set you apart as an expert in your field. Some blogging ideas include:
- New technologies you are using on your farm
- Aspects of your everyday operations—For example, document tilling a field or discuss why do you irrigate.
- Pros and cons of specific farming practices—For example, no-till or traditional tilling
- Debunking agricultural myths—“The truth about...”
- Answers to common questions about agriculture or your farm
Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter facilitate ongoing conversations with your audience, giving your messages a more personal feel. People who “like” or “follow” your family farm on social media want updates about your farm business. Social media is a living platform that you need to update regularly. When you interact regularly with your audience, they feel a greater sense of connection to you and your farm. Social media is a great way to share news stories that feature your farm, your blog articles, and links to your website to help direct more traffic there. Follow these tips when using social media:
- Always be respectful, even if you do not agree
- Use photos or videos to grab users’ attention. People are more likely to share a post with their networks if it includes a cool picture or video
- Update several times a week to encourage interaction
- Respond to your followers to get the conversation going
Don’t get left in the dust—get online.
Using web-based marketing tactics is more important than ever to reach the next generation of landowners. Soon, Millennials will be in charge of their family’s land, and it is important that you’re communicating with them in a way that fits how they gather information. The younger generation is no longer relying on newspapers; they use search engines and social media to find everything they need conveniently and quickly. Adopting an online marketing strategy will help you get the edge on competitors.
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