It takes time, money and a lot of effort to start and successfully run an agribusiness, either as a farmer, agriprocessor, agri-producer or agric exporter. It’s absolutely important after investing these resources into your farm business that you build a customer base so that you can increase profits and grow your business.
It doesn’t matter what level you are in the agricultural value chain, with hard work, persistence and a bit of creativity, you can create and execute a successful marketing plan. Find some helpful steps below:
1. Know your target audience
The first step in any successful marketing plan is to answer the question “who are my target audience?”
A livestock farmer may not see the need to answer this question afterall there is a huge market for livestock consumption, however, if this question is further drilled down, the target audience for the livestock farmer can be defined to be, for example:
“Wholesalers who buy a minimum of 100 cows from the East and distribute to the West.”
For another livestock farmer, the target audience can be defined as:
“Retailers in the middle east that buy a minimum of 30 cows on a monthly basis.”
At Farmcrowdy, our target audience are people who are interested in agriculture, advancing the agricultural industry and empowering rural farmers in the process.
Identifying your target audience will be the defining point in your farm marketing strategy.
2. What is your USP?
Your unique selling proposition (USP) is what sets your agriculture business apart. It begs the question, “why should anyone do business with you?” What are you offering that other farmers or agro processors or any other agribusiness owner isn’t already offering?
Your USP statement is clear and directs the other efforts that you make in your farm business. It will be easier to come up with a USP if you know your target audience.
You may ask the question: If my target audience are wholesalers from the East, what would they want when purchasing livestock (from the example above)? What is their biggest pain point?
At Farmcrowdy, our USP is “start a farm from your pocket.” That is, everyone can farm from the comfort of their home or office, and this USP appeals to our target audience which is why we always sell out our farm units. Your unique selling proposition can be that you deliver only fresh products, deliver them on time and offer free delivery services to your customers.
Now that you know your USP, you need to make it a living and breathing element. You can do this by framing a copy on the wall; reiterating in your everyday communications with your employees and customers.
3. Get your Farm Business Online
According to stats from Internet World, Internet usage in Nigeria rose from 200,000 (0.1% of total population) in Year 2000 to 92,699,924 (51.1% of the total population) in Year 2015. By getting your farm business online, you are invariably marketing your business to thousands, possibly millions of people who would otherwise not know you exist.
The following steps will help you successfully launch your business online:
- Launch a Farm Website: There is no denying it, today’s farmer needs to be ahead and take advantage of technology, so as a farmer, there is nothing stopping you from launching a simple website that contains the basic description of your business, contact details, products, and product descriptions.
It takes a small fee to purchase a domain name (web address as in www.farmcrowdy.com) and host your domain name (this is where your files live) but you can also launch your website without spending a single dime using free applications like wordpress, blogger, wix, and so on.
You may also include a Google map to pinpoint your location so that it will be easier for customers to find you. You can also use ‘Google My Business’ to write out your business description, address and add positive reviews so that your details can pop up when searching for related businesses in your local community.
Your website will include details like a business logo, tagline, business details, team members bio, images, products, product descriptions, value-added services, news, events, promotions, etc.
- Design a Logo: your logo needs to project the type of agribusiness that you are involved in, and can be as simple as spelling out your business name in a unique font or coming up with a more complex visual.
Using Canva, Stencil, PicMonkey or the extensive range of free design tools on the web, you can create a unique farm logo that represents your business, or you can go a step further and outsource the design to a professional graphic designer. Your logo can be placed on your website and all marketing materials.
- Decide on a Tagline: a tagline is a promise; something that your customers should expect from your agribusiness. Farmcrowdy’s tagline which doubles as our motto is “Empowering Farmers. Together.”
Not only are we ranking No 1. in Search for this tagline, the words “Empower,” “Farmers,” and “Together” are now associated with us. Our farmers, farm sponsors, followers, and investors embrace this word and it’s a vibrant part of our company culture.
To get the best taglines, keep it short and simple. Also, come up with a tagline that embodies what your business is about. While it sounds fancy for your tagline to sound like a rhyme, it pays to keep things simple.
- Take Advantage of Social Media: social media is a great tool to build quality relationships with your existing customers and meet new people. There are also conversations happening daily on social media platforms that can prove very helpful for your agribusiness. Farmers also collaborate on Facebook groups, Whatsapp groups, and Skype (yes!) with other farmers all around the world to share new ideas and inspire each other.
For more details on taking advantage of social media to market your agribusiness, read our post: The Role of Social Media in Agribusiness
4. Attend Farm-related Events: attending farm-related events should be an integral part of your offline marketing plan. Farm events allow you to meet people who would most likely want to buy from you or partner with you in some way because they are already interested in agriculture.
Some agriculture-related events include Agra Innovate West Africa, Nigeria Agro Food, AgriFair West Africa. For a more detailed list, click here
Don’t limit yourself to just Agric related events because it’s likely you would meet more agribusiness owners than prospective customers.
Increase your chances of meeting more prospective customers by attending other events that are not agriculture-themed.
5. Be Consistent: consistency with your marketing plan is the best way to keep your business fresh in the mind of your customers. The reason why famous brands still execute their marketing strategy is, customers have to be consistently reminded of how your business can be of service to them, they would most likely forget because there are a lot of things fighting for their attention.
You also do not need a huge marketing budget to stay consistent in the mind of your customers. Staying fresh in the mind of your customers may mean that you:
- Add a new service or product range to your existing line of products
- Send an email on a specific day of the week to your subscribers
- Hold a monthly discount
- Organize expo or events
- Participate as a speaker at events
6. Improve your products and packaging: did you know that the way you package your products can make a lot of difference to your marketing? That is because people do judge a book by its cover and your packaging will determine if there will be interest in your product and what kind of interest you would garner.
You can contact a good graphics designer to design a very attractive package for your product. If you are packaging products like rice, beans, nuts, etc. having your NAFDAC approval may also increase the marketability of your product.
7. Set Aside a Budget and Calendar: you can take out an ad in your local newspaper to advertise your local farm products. When advertising your farm products, keep your headlines short and catchy. To get the best results from your ad, ensure you include the right call to action without loading the ad with too much information. For example, your call to action can be:
Call this no: 080xxxxxxxxx on or before 10th of March to get 30% discount on our processed cassava product.
8. Customer Service: we cannot stress enough the importance of good customer service. At Farmcrowdy, we are so proud of the work that our customer relationship managers do and how they interact with everyone that contacts the company.
A bad customer service experience can ruin the hard work and money invested in marketing your business and the reason is simple. People would usually relate with you, the same way you relate with them, so treat your customers right and they would do the same for you.
You can offer good customer service by sending a thank you note from a customer who tries out your new bread flavour for example; send a gift card on special occasions like birthdays; send a feedback form for any outgoing call recorded; replace any food produce with defect, and so on depending on where you sit in the value chain.
9. Evaluate: by constantly evaluating the results of your marketing plan, you will be able to improve on your marketing and get more results with less effort. Some of the questions you can ask during your review include:
- What is the highest selling product in my farm?
- What is the biggest driver in selling these products?
- What do we receive compliments from?
- Where did our customers first heard about us?
- How many customers do we add on a monthly basis?
Having an integrated marketing plan makes it easier to market your farm business on a continuous basis. Also, if you keep looking for new ways to market your agribusiness, you will discover more opportunities for growth and expansion.