Rural market insight, straight from the farmer’s mouth

By HGB , Sep 16 2019
No bull. When we heard the 19th Marketing to the Rural Sector Conference was taking place, our agri-marketing specialist Rachel was ready to jump on the (feed)wagon. And what better way to gain industry insights than straight from the farmer’s mouth.

Rachel joined Mike Cook, Lightwire’s Head of Rural and Scott Raynel, Lightwire’s Head of Operations, at the annual conference, learning about the latest projections for the rural sector, the challenges facing farmers and growers, and why it’s important to tell an authentic story, minus the bullshit.

Get the inside scoop, through their key takeaways from the conference.

Know your different audience segments

Rural is not just Rural. Rural encompasses ag, dairy, beef, lifestyle, orchardists. To communicate effectively, their separate wants and needs need to be recognised in different audience segments.

“This really interested me,” says Mike. “We know we’re connecting rural communities, but it’s a good reminder to check who makes up those communities. We can’t look at a business with one lens, we need to recognise the personas within it.”

“One easy way to address this is to look at the imagery on your website – is it painting your entire rural audience with the same dairy brush?”

It’s important to know your customers and stop taking the easy way out with ‘a farmer is a farmer’, says Mike.

“One farmer doesn’t fit them all!”

Finely-tuned bullshit detectors

Scott’s takeaway was the importance of being authentic and credible. Authenticity is the buzzword of the moment. It’s an easy way to not set off the rural audience’s “finely tuned bullshit detectors!”, he says.

“Be genuine, authentic and legitimate. Go the extra mile to make sure your advertising is real,” says Scott. “If you’re featuring a calf in an ad targeted at dairy farmers, make sure it’s a breed that New Zealanders farm. Does it have NAIT tags? Is it well-fed? All of these things speak to the authenticity of your marketing and respect to your audience.”

A message received loud and clear from the panelists is that rural consumers investigate everything.

“Nothing is taken on just word or face value,” says Scott. “Everything has to be backed up by trusted sources, often local, to legitimise what you are saying.”

If your advertising isn’t credible, your product isn’t either, he says.

Your customer is the hero

Storytelling is key. Weaving a story with a protagonist, an antagonist, a challenge, a victory and a moral is the package with which we’ve been taught to listen, relate to and form an opinion.

“Often brands will position themselves as the hero, which is just another advert at the end of the day,” says Rachel.

“A true story will feature your customer as the hero – your brand has accompanied them in their journey, but they’re the protagonist in their story.”

Your product may have helped your customer achieve something, but their achievement is the story, they are the hero. Not your company, your account manager, or your product, she says.

“Position your customer as the hero, so you’re no longer distributing an ad, you’re telling a story.”

What’s your takeaway?

Our minds were churning leaving the event on how to market better to a deserving audience (or many deserving audiences, as the case may be). HGB and Lightwire have both reviewed strategic pathways to engage with our rural customers on a deeper, more authentic level.

New Zealand’s biggest industry will continue to adapt and thrive in its ever-changing environment. We recommend anyone marketing to the rural sector takes the time to make sure their marketing activities aren’t setting off any bullshit detectors.

Oh, and see you at the 20th Marketing to the Rural Sector conference!

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