integration of marketing and operations in ag full size

You can’t have one task without the other

Marketing to Farmers views the farmer, rancher, veterinarian and ag dealer as the Chief Everything Officer. By that we mean they are the Chief Technology, Information, Marketing and Operations Officer, in addition to managing the labor resources, inventory, equipment and structures of their business. And yet, they still manage to bring crops, livestock and products to their fullest yield on a regular basis. Call us more than impressed.

However, we have since learned from our recent visit to the 2018 Farm Progress Show that some roles are more challenging than others, and that the marketing role is more connected to operations than many farmers are aware.

Whether the roles are together under one roof or managed by different agencies, it’s essential to understand how the two roles must integrate and function together to be effective.

The context of operations is wide and contains a generous amount of wiggle room. Medium[i] did some investigative work to explore the various operations responsibilities and what they entail. Of those, operations lends itself to six general buckets of tasks: management; data collection; information technology; corporate strategy; human resources and labor; and finances. Incorporating ag marketing into these duties looks like the following:

  • Management: Marketing in the context of ag management includes the public relations and promotions of the farm, ranch or ag business as a whole and the production of goods and services as a result.
  • Data Collection: Metrics are critical to marketing, as they keep businesses accountable, particularly as it reflects on measuring data related to the effects of advertising and promotion, media consumption and consumer information.
  • Information Technology (IT): Marketing interaction with IT administers content development and maintenance and ensures that a farm, ranch or business is outfitted with proper technology. This also includes oversight of social media, which is more significant than ever in the context of sales potential and community engagement.
  • Strategy: As farms and ranches go to market and dealers take on new products or merge with other vendors, strategy takes on greater importance. Other than operations management, this is one of the largest inclusions of marketing, where the goal is to develop promotional blueprints for new endeavors.
  • Human Resources and Labor: Quality human resources is key to a successful enterprise, whether it’s on the ranch, a farm or a retail location. Marketing the business itself falls under this scope in the context of labor recruitment and public relations.
  • Finances: Though seemingly unrelated to marketing, the emphasis on positive relationships with the community and vendors is critical to maintaining the business structure.

It’s important to note that we’re not just adding marketing into these buckets. The crux is that marketing and operations tasks aren’t mutually exclusive, and there is a natural relationship for them to function within each other’s orbit.

The final point is the relationship between the customer, operations and marketing. Consider that customers take note of each interaction with a brand or a business, particularly that it requires at least a dozen positive interactions to overcome one negative interaction.[ii] It also takes just one negative interaction to tarnish a relationship. This requires a mutual buy-in from both to resolve the situation. Operations changes the policies and fixes the procedures, while marketing works with operations to overcome a tarnished reputation.

We recognize that operations is as multifaceted as marketing, and that both require significant resources to function together. However, when it comes down to it, organizations are inherently more successful when the two are in sync.


[i]   Medium

[ii]  Forbes