December 5, 2017

Farmers need reasons to believe your brand promise is true and credible

By Mike Karst, Senior Partner

Walk through the trade show floor in any sector of the agriculture industry and you’re bombarded with marketing messages and promises of higher productivity, cutting-edge technology, and outrageous promotional offers and pricing deals. Before long they all start sounding the same and it’s hard to recall who’s saying what.

Jaded by empty promises, it’s no wonder farmers are among the most cynical groups on the planet. They notoriously adhere to the premise that if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.

However, farmers will wholeheartedly offer you a fair shot to win their business, but only in exchange for believable reasons why they should trust what you’re saying.

These “reasons to believe” are what compel customers to trust that you can deliver on your brand promise—and if you aren’t effectively articulating those reasons, they’ll simply move on to whoever is next.

Once farmers know what you’re offering and how it works, it’s the WHY behind your brand messages that pushes them over the line to where they’re willing to take a chance on you. Why is your product important to me, and why should I believe what you’re saying?

Three Keys to Making Customers Believe in You

Given the rate at which new products and services are entering the marketplace, it’s essential your reasons to believe are crystal clear if you want to cut through the noise and get farmers’ attention. It starts with giving them credible and authentic reasons why they should believe in your brand. This is what gives them confidence to feel good about buying your product.

I see three keys to establishing those reasons to believe for your business:

#1—Gain endorsement from trusted advisors.

Who already believes in this brand?

In a world where reviews are everything—whether you’re looking to buy a snow blower from The Home Depot or a new dicamba product for use on DT crops—buyers rely on input from others to guide their decision-making.

Earning the support of the local trusted advisor could be the single most influential factor in making customers believe in you. An endorsement from local advisors and consultants carries a tremendous amount of weight because growers turn to them for an unbiased reality check. If these experts are in your corner and backing up your claims, then you’re giving customers and prospects a huge reason to believe.

Farmers trust these advisors because they know they aren’t going to endorse or recommend a product without testing it first, and they can validate that it works within their own region-specific conditions. Yet, surprisingly enough, so many companies undervalue the role of local experts. Many companies make the mistake of not investing time and resources to work with these advisors, because they don’t think it’s important. So they try winning business with marketing gimmicks and price deals instead.

But, price alone does not drive farmers’ decisions. Which leads right into the next key…

#2—Offer plausible solutions to real problems.

Is it reasonable to believe this can actually solve my problems?

You won’t get very far if your strategy is simply to offer the lowest price or biggest incentive. Introducing breakthrough technology is not in and of itself a selling point either. You’ve got to present farmers with solid reasons why they should invest their hard-earned money in your product.

At the end of the day, farmers want help solving problems, and they are willing to pay for results. They will make investments, even if there’s more risk involved, if they have reasons to believe it will satisfy critical limiting factors on their farm—whether those are financial, environmental, or operational in nature. They need answers to questions like, “How is it going to improve my production system?” and “How is it going to save me time and/or make me more money?”

In a recent research project, we asked farmers about their reasons for purchasing a particular fungicide. The leading answer wasn’t related to price, but rather plant health. And when you think about it, it makes sense that farmers would value plant health the most when selecting a fungicide, because plant health is the root of better yields, which is a big driver of ROI.

So, rather than lead with the offer, start by showing how your product can help with the most critical issues they're facing right now.

#3—Communicate clear messages that make sense to farmers.

Does what they’re saying resonate and make sense to me?

The third key in establishing a reason to believe is to make your message clear so farmers don’t have to waste time decoding what you’re saying. Because they won’t.

Farmers don’t like jargon and they’re not impressed with those big words we all like to use. In fact, overuse of technical terms and corporate speak is unlikely to get you anything more from a farmer than a big eye roll. If you really want to connect with them, speak their language and use the same terminology they use.

Make your promise and show them the facts to back it up. And be straightforward; unless you’re fortunate enough to already be part of the farmer’s inner circle of trust, you can assume they’re skeptical of anything they don't have firsthand experience with.

What farmers need and want to hear is the truth about what you have to offer—what exactly you’re selling and what it can do for them. And, it has to be believable.

Where to Begin

For farmers, their reason to believe comes from all or some of the factors above. So if you’re wondering where to begin, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do farmers trust us? Are we aligning ourselves with experts who can genuinely back what we’re saying?
  • Can they see the potential for our product to solve their most limiting factor—those challenges that stand in the way of growth?
  • Are we presenting a message they can understand and relate to?

As we take a step back and look at the ever-changing landscape of the agriculture industry, those who are losing their grip—or no longer part of the scenery at all—are the ones who failed to create a reason to believe.

Over the next few months we’re going to take a deeper dive into what we mean by reason to believe, and showcase a few companies who nailed it—as well as a few who fell short and had to face the consequences. Watch for more from our “Reason to Believe” series in upcoming issues of Strategic Agribusiness Review.

If you’d like to talk through capturing your Reason to Believe, contact Mike Karst at or 901.753.0470.