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It’s about the farmer, not the farm

#Agriculture, #BuyerInsight, #CustomerExperience

Part 2 of 7 in our Ag Challenger series.

On the road to customer-centricity, agrimarketers need to overcome the tendency to mistake the farm for the farmer. Or, to put a finer point on it, for thinking that the quantifiable aspects of a farm offer inherent insight into the farmer’s motivations and decision making processes.

In this second post of the Ag Challenger series (you can read the first post here), let me offer a scenario that arises too often. I recently sat in on a meeting where the strategic marketing group stated that they were “designing for the $10-million-a-year, row-crop farm.” There was no mention of the farmer and his or her buying journey, only an assumption that all $10M farms are alike in their needs. Yet, agrimarketers often fall into the trap of accepting the status quo and happily nodding their heads in situations like this, as if this approach to segmentation is meaningful.

The farm is part of the setting of the buyer’s journey

One of the big ideas in customer-centricity is the need to understand and map the customer’s buying journey. In agrimarketing, that means recognizing that the farmer isn’t the sum-total of his or her farm. Our customers act in the context of their farm demographics, but also according to their motivations and a style of personal interactions developed over a lifetime of experience. Thus, the farm information we collect in our databases is really only context for understanding the farmer.

In today’s world, we know that farmers have completed the biggest portion of their buying journey before they engage with an agrimarketer or retailer. They ask other farmers (many of whom may be a long distance away). They ask agronomists or nutritionists. They consult Google. They engage in other information gathering of which we have no inkling. And they synthesize this information from their own unique perspective and through their own unique emotional outlook. That’s the buyer’s journey and we need to understand it.

The cause of the farm-focused status quo is historical and the result of the best of intentions. When agrimarketers were just starting their segmentation efforts, they took the data at hand and created databases based on these “segments.” You have to start somewhere. At the time, the most accessible data typically came from retail partners and rebate programs. And perhaps in a product-centric world, this made sense.

But in a customer-centric world, we need to remember that categorization is not segmentation.

But in a customer-centric world, we need to remember that categorization is not segmentation. We need to move beyond this perspective. Let’s talk about the person, not the things they own and use.

Think I’m heading in the wrong direction? I’d love to hear your views. Contact me at or via LinkedIn.