Marketing to today’s entitled farmers

Three tips to keep your entitled farmer-customer happy.

At a conference, I recently listened to a speaker talk about today’s entitled customer. He focused primarily on the millennial generation living in major cities, and how they just expect food, transportation and even late-night cocktail makings to show up at the push of a button.

But it occurred to me, that this sense of entitlement isn’t limited to a generation or a geography. The truth is that we have all become entitled consumers. Which made me wonder how this could be, or should be, influencing how we market to today’s entitled farmer-customer.

Farmers tend to adopt new technology quickly, which makes them susceptible to this new, technologically empowered entitlement. They expect immediate access to customized information instantly, regardless of where they are.

Ten years ago, most farmers would swing by the shop or their office to check the weather on either a DTN terminal or their desktop computer. And even then, it was general radar information that was only updated a few times an hour.

That same farmer now pulls out a smart phone or tablet, while sitting in their truck at the edge of the field, and looks at real-time rainfall forecast specific to the field they are sitting in. They then open an irrigation app to remotely adjust the scheduled watering, and proceed to text an employee on the other side of the farm and instruct them to stop spraying for the day. And if any of this takes more than 30 seconds, they’re frustrated.

So, what does this mean to us, as ag marketers? If we want to provide meaningful communications to these farmers, we better be on our A-game. One slip up, and they can become irritated with our brand and begin to wonder if we can deliver for them. Here are three tips to keep your entitled farmer-customer happy:

  1. Think mobile first, your customers are. Don’t have a “mobile-friendly” version of your site. Or even worse, a mobile-designed experience without full access to all content and information. And it’s not just about your website. Think about mobile access to instructions, reviews, parts catalogs, labels, brochures. Can they access your sales force and customer service with a single tap? Can they quickly find and order items?
  2. Don’t engage unless you have something of value to share. Sounds obvious, right? It’s one thing to serve up an ad on the radio or in a magazine. There is an implied contract in listening to the radio, reading a magazine or even browsing the web. But don’t interrupt their day by delivering an email or text unless it has information that is sure to be of value. This quickly builds resentment.
  3. Solve a problem they don’t know exists. This is the Holy Grail to winning over an entitled customer. Taxis worked fine before Uber came along, but now waiting for a taxi feels like an arduous waste of time and almost caveman-like behavior. It takes more work to find a solution to an unrecognized problem, but few things build loyalty faster. Given the capital intensities of many of the services farmers need, the space would appear ripe for the sharing economy (seasonal equipment, labor etc.).