Boss Lady Speaks: Marketing To the Rural Sector

Infobesity. Print vs-and-or Digital? Community. We are more than a single story. 

My brain is swirling after two days of intense conversations around Marketing to the Rural Sector conference in Auckland. This event will go down in history as my first official event-chair role. Additionally, my entire team was able to attend and it was a great opportunity to network and open their eyes to unique perspectives.

For those of you who couldn't join us, here are some of my thoughts about the speakers, the ideas, and a little insight into my first opportunity to chair the event!


When Caroline Saunders stepped up to the podium, I reached to text the girls. "Take notes - she is going to be good." She didn't let me down.

Caroline is a refreshing academic at Lincoln University who says it as it is and shares challenging information and opinions in a trustworthy manner. As usual, Lincoln is working on exciting initiatives and understanding this research can give marketing professionals a glimpse into where we are going as a sector. 

For the second year in a row, Mark Pickering from Brand Spanking provided thoughtful insights as he reminded attendees to make the most from Fieldays & events. As an events girl in my past and in my heart - I ate his tips up faster than the fab scones at morning tea.

Mark challenged event exhibiting marketers to have ego-satisfying activities on Fieldays site i.e. #selfie stands. He highlighted the value of an enthusiastic events team, the power of social media, and the importance of mobile to amplify 'experience'. With this in mind, he encouraged clever integration into your site and activity plan... 

(...shameless GRM plug here: Ahem, we can help with that...)


Repeatedly throughout the event, attendees were challenged with the question, are we relevant to our consumers - our community?

We need to be customer-centric and embrace customer thinking to avoid presenting a siloed marketing approach. As a team, we couldn't help but think through these topics on behalf of our current clients and may be re-shaping some of their strategies to be more effective.

Additionally, attendees were reminded that there is no single story. This is prevalent in the farmer panel, speakers from print publications, and industry experts.


From farmer panels to marketing professionals, it was beneficial to attend and I will attend again. The company was enjoyable, the location superb, and I absolutely loved the clever use of technology to inspire a two-way conversation.

TOOL TIP: Shout out to the awesome tool, Sli.do for creating a platform to allow observers to become active participants in, what can be, an intimidating environment. As a chair, I was able to use this tool to understand how the listeners were feeling, thinking and taking from the speaker in real time and enhanced the Q&A time.

But I couldn't help but think -- we can’t do what we’ve always done with this conference if it is to stand the test of time.

Never one to simply dwell on a problem without providing a solution, I put pen to paper about what I would like our industry to experience at future conferences.

First, I hope to see more international speakers. After all, we are an export nation. Too often we are focused on marketing locally when really we need to look well beyond our borders. Second, I believe a shorter conference, more firepower speakers with a slightly cheaper price will see the attendance numbers grow.

I’ve even been recommended for Chair again next year so, who knows? You may get to see more of me yet! Shout out to Conferenz for being helpful and good to work with throughout the process. Let's see where we can take this into the future!

Chelsea Millar is the owner of Grass Roots Media (GRM), a cat named Ducati, and a spicy red Mini Cooper called Pacey. She wears the "bad-cop" badge on her netball team's coaching duo and wears it with pride.

She primarily takes on the role of 'Boss Lady' for GRM but also flits around the primary industries wearing many agvocating hats .... and making magic happen in most of those spaces.

Chelsea has a background in Agribusiness, Social Media, Digital & Print marketing and has developed a passion for digital communication as she sees it playing an important role in telling the Primary Industries NZ Inc story now, and in the future.