reader engagement feedback

Marketing to Farmers is a pathway for learning as well as sharing insights.

I have learned many lessons throughout the entire creative process with Jeff Walter, my partner on Marketing to Farmers. However, there are three key lessons that linger in my brain each time I write.

Although many do, not all lessons come by way of mistakes.  Some come by way of reader engagement and substantive feedback on the insights we share here.

Lesson #1: Bait and switch, even when unintentional, is embarrassing and may damage your credibility.

Our agency targeted prospects with letters in the voice of their farmer-customers, or personas. We used our return address for the snail-mail versions and my email account to push out digital messages. We thought we had provided adequate clues as to the origin and promotional nature of the messages.  Wrong!

Several recipients of the letters responded to the persona. This prompted a mea culpa email to all, to fully disclose that we were the authors, not their customers. Embarrassing, to say the least. On the upside, we initiated dialog with a few prospects.

More importantly, we learned we cannot be too transparent when implementing outbound marketing, whether targeting marketers or farmers.

Lesson #2: Engagement with your post does not mean someone actually read it.

Social media engagement gets us excited. We think someone has paid attention to our content. But we are deluding ourselves if we think likes or shares (with or without comment) means someone actually read, much less thought about the content.

In June 2016, computer scientists from Columbia University and the French National Institute reported 59 percent of all links shared on Twitter aren’t actually clicked on at all, implying the majority of shared articles were not read by the sharer.

Recently, a segment of farmers on Twitter took issue with our Print Rules post. They tagged me, saying the content was untrue because it didn’t apply to them. Foolishly, I attempted to defend the post with evidence from market research. And through our dialogue, I realized I entered a debate with sharers who obviously had not read the article.

The lesson, or rather the reminder, is that the thrill of interaction, is not evidence that the target audience reads and s interprets our content.

Lesson #3: Storytelling – the more personal, the better – captures the minds and hearts of readers.

I never miss an opportunity to talk about the importance of women in agriculture. In prior posts, I emphasized their roles as decision makers and influencers. Missed Opportunity” is an instructional post offering four ways for ag marketers to better engage women. “Never Underestimate” relays the importance of farm women to ag brands, through the lens of my memories of my mom on the farm.

I like both posts. However, one pulled at the heartstrings of our readers more than the other. We’ve seen a number of Facebook and Twitter shares citing specific passages from the story about my mom. That tells me the post is being read, and reminds me that storytelling, particularly with a personal spin, will outperform reports and instructional essays.

Storytelling is effective in marketing to farmers, too. Farmers will engage and interact with content that has the right amount of tension and strikes a personal chord with them. In turn, they will relate better with your brand as the teller of the great story.

Marketing to Farmers is a continuous, rewarding journey. And as a perpetual student of marketing and agriculture, Marketing to Farmers is a pathway to important lessons that our team applies in our ag marketing efforts.