Marketers + Farmers

There is something special about a panel who gets up to speak in front of a room full of people and answer’s questions thrown at them on the spot. Honest opinions often rise to the surface and thoughtful, memorable discussion ensues. 

This was certainly the case with the Farmer Panel at the Marketing to the Rural Sector conference in Auckland.

Karen Forlong takes some time to offer her thoughts to marketers in the rural sector.

Back by popular demand, three farmers bravely stepped up to the stage and offered their two cents to a room full of rural marketers. This conversation was discussed and quoted by attendees throughout the event and left an impression on the GRM team. Dean Williamson, Director at Global HQ agreed, “…it was the one time I felt we scratched the surface and heard the views of our audience - readers and contributors. They were off the cuff and honest.” 

Our key takeaways are excellent reminders as we create content for our clients and so we thought we would share.

Karen Forlong, was all class as she proudly wore her pink scarf to signify her role as a trustee for the Dairy Women’s Network and championed a female voice in the dairy industry. 

She called attending marketers not to underestimate “her” in the farming advertising equation and to include the females in their advertising.

She summed up the conference beautifully with the term, “infobesity” as she referred to the sheer amount of information farmers are currently asked to consume. 

Finally, she reminded marketers that no matter how cleverly you promote yourself, if the service is poor, as is the product, you will get a bad rap and news travels fast in the NZ farming industry. 

Guy Bakewell, Third place 2018 Northern Region FMG Young Farmer of the Year emphasised his use of his phone and digital resources. Most of his printed materials landed in the fire. He shared that he trusted, shared and used farming chat groups on social media more than pages, but he still watched them without engaging. 

He reminded attendees he is more than a customer number. He bluntly told attendees that if you don’t get to know him, or understand the farming calendar and care to ask about his wife or his child, then don’t bother rolling down his drive. 

Guy reinforced that he proudly supports brands that support organisations he is a part of, including Young Farmers.

Sally Lee, a drystock Farmer from Burklee, echoed Guy’s call for community over customers. She reminded attendees of her name and asked to be taken off of survey lists. Practically she asked for businesses to avoid calling during the news as it is a sacred time to switch off and gather information. 

She asked to be addressed and considered when decision makers are spoken to about farm decisions. Salesmen who walked up the drive and offered a hand while farmers are working will earn a lifetime of respect. She emphasised the value of a good website as every decision is made using deep research. 

Finally, she said that sponsorships and attendance at community events raised more brand awareness than printed materials.

We understand this is a minuscule cross section of the industry and their opinions are not shared by everyone, but it was still refreshing to hear from the people we are trying to reach. It’s not easy to get up in front of a room and share your thoughts and answer questions off the cuff so three cheers for the MRS18 Farmer Panel. We hope to see it again next year!

Trista Burn is an American-born-Kiwi-by-marriage communications specialist. A dairy farmer’s daughter and a legacy deeply rooted in ag, Trista firmly believes in the value of agvocating and sharing stories. In other words - the heartbeat of GRM. 

Home made Apple Pie, Mexican food (especially guacamole!), soft chocolate chip cookies and coffee are the way to Trista's heart. She is currently learning the fine art of toddler negotiations. She is NOT a dog lover but one affectionate GSP pup named Harry has wiggled his way into her heart and she’s not sure how that happened.