Market Focus: Farmers
Selling to the Salt of the Earth
Trying to corral farmers into a tidy market segment is a fool’s errand. The landscape of American farming is as rich and diverse—from spuds to corn to fruit to cattle—as the country itself.
According to the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service [NASS] 2002 Census of Agriculture, America’s farmers, numbering upwards of 2 million, tend more than 939 million acres of this great land. To do this, America’s growers spent $191.4 billion on products such as feed, seed, chemicals, equipment and information, according to the 2003 NASS report “Farm Production Expenditures 2002 Summary.”
Yes, these farms may have differing needs, but they require similar things.
“One thing you could say about farmers across the board is that they’re wanting useful and relevant information to help them in their business,” says Scott Kurfman, director of client services for AdFarm, a Kansas City, MO-based agency that handles only “ag business” clients. Many of AdFarm’s employees are farmers themselves, which gives them unique insight.
Information is key in the tight-margin world of farming. Anything that can provide a slight advantage—whether it be increased output or more efficient input—is devoured.
The modern farmer, as it turns out, has more time to spend with information and marketing offers—especially if it will help the operation.
“There are some trending charts that show that the amount of time it takes to produce a bushel of soy beans or corn over the last 50 years has fallen dramatically,” says Tony Behr, vice president of sales for Farm Journal Media, a company with print, Internet, broadcast (television and radio) and database properties aimed at the farm market.
As a result, farms are being run increasingly like businesses. A report by NASS reveals that in 2003, 58 percent of farms had computer access and 48 percent had Internet access. As operations get larger, often the “farmer” is spending little or no time in the field.