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BUSINESS AS USUAL

Radio and television seem to be bombarding consumers with fears of recession and an unstable economy, but the agriculture and farm broadcasting industries seem to be doing very well. The general consensus of most people in these areas is that things are okay. Lynn Ketelsen, director of farm services for the Linder Farm Network, Owatonna, Minn., says consolidation has tightened advertising budgets, but radio is holding its own. "We have seen traditional users of radio stick with it for one simple reason - it works," Ketelsen explains.

"The few independent seed companies remaining continue to enjoy the benefits of radio at spending levels comparable to the last few years," says John Beebe, national and agricultural sales manager, WGN Radio/Tribune Radio Networks, Chicago. "Even some of the now consolidated chemical companies are starting to revive spending in line with their formerly independent components."

Another possibility for the continuing strength of radio is the fact that marketers and advertisers know that a company or product name must be kept in the spotlight, even when budgets are slim. According to John Leatherbury, director of marketing for 1st Farm Credit Services, Bloomington, Ill., frequency is a key to successful advertising. "We try to maintain consistency in frequency at all times. It is important to keep your name in front of prospects and clients, " he explains. "We don't cut back one year and add on the next."

COMPETITIVE EDGE

Advertisers are actively seeking a medium that provides the most "bang" for the company's buck. Radio could be the answer as it is often seen as an economical medium. Several agribusiness professionals agree that a few of radio's strong points are its reach, frequency and immediacy.

Bob Wilhelm, vice president and director of account management at Osborn & Barr Communications, St. Louis, says, "Radio advertising is the one medium that allows the creative element and the message to be experienced in the field or environment where the product might be used."

For Leatherbury, farm broadcasting is the perfect media tool for 1st Farm Credit Services to reach a wide-range of customers at a specific time. He says it is especially beneficial during sales seasons that coordinate with particular products. "Ag programming reaches the people we do business with, and radio allows us to go into the market during peak sales seasons with a time-sensitive message for particular products," he explains. "Planting and harvesting seasons finds producers in tractors and combines listening to the radio - we target that period pretty strongly."

Another strength is radio's ability to be everywhere the producer is. "Farm broadcasters are with farmers when the clock radio turns on, in the shower, at the kitchen table, and in the pickup and tractor cab," says Ketelsen. "Producers depend on farm broadcasters and develop a trust in what they have to say. No other medium has so much of their undivided attention."

Wilhelm adds that farm radio is strengthening because it is finding new ways to add value and is using unique approaches to attract and retain advertisers. He continues saying farm radio has evolved to become a "much more flexible tool."

Ketelsen agrees by saying that broadcasters are "challenged to be more creative in adding value to our clients advertising. At the Linder Farm Network we are doing more field events than ever, building relationships and improving our quality of programming in an effort to ensure our continued success."

Today's marketer must utilize the perfect media mix to be successful, and radio is only one of several viable and effective forms of advertising. Although, the changing lifestyles of agriculture producers are boosting radio's efficiency more and more. "Farmers lead busy lives just like the rest of us. Evenings consist of kids' sporting events, choir concerts, watching movies, looking at the Internet and doing bookwork," Ketelsen adds. "The time that used to be devoted to traditional forms of media has disappeared...and that's radio's big advantage."

A POWERFUL VOICE

The advantages of radio are enhanced even more when there is a credible and knowledgeable farm broadcaster delivering the message. Everyone knows that farm broadcasters serve an important role in the agriculture community and according to Beebe, "the agribusiness broadcaster is the single greatest asset to the agricultural marketer today."

Wait a minute. Back up. Did he say the farm broadcaster was the "greatest asset" to agricultural marketers? Marketers, are you utilizing your assets? Farm broadcasters should be praised for the impact that they can have on an audience, and the knowledge and experience they use to bring products to life through the spoken word.

Wilhelm believes broadcasters have a unique viewpoint that has been gained from personal experiences with producers in tractor cabs and plot tours, which is very credible and valuable. He says a successful broadcaster can use this as "leverage to engage in adding value to the farm customer and to advertisers."

Radio personalities are definitely a great service to advertisers, but they also serve an important role in the agriculture community. They are a key information source. Leatherbury says that farm broadcasters are an important part of the "infrastructure" of a farm community and the families that agri-businesses serve. He says 1st Farm Credit Services is a strong supporter of farm broadcasting, not only because of its reach and frequency, but also because the company wants to help keep this important information source available to producers.

POSITIVE IMPACTS

One key to a farm broadcaster's credibility is his honesty and sincerity. Without compromising that role, in these times of a slowing economy, broadcasters are called to "look on the bright side of things." Despite the recent declines in consumer spending, there is one sector that actually has money to spend - the producer. Government payments over the past several years have boosted agriculturalists' bottom line.

Beebe points out that agriculture and consumer markets rarely share the same cycles. "What we find rather ironic is that producers really do have money to spend," he says.

Now that we know who has the money to spend, the challenge is to boost spending. Greenspan is doing his part with interest rate cuts, but farm broadcasters also can play a part in keeping the economy afloat. Beebe says that farm broadcasters should be aware that the things said on air could be causing producers and consumers to close their pocketbooks and reduce spending in uncertain times. They must remain positive and advertisers must use creativity to put a "positive spin" on their message.

"The impasse is convincing fearful producers to open their pocketbooks ," notes Beebe, "Part of this can be accomplished with the help of the media, who should devote time and space to covering the positive events taking place in the industry. We must all stop dwelling on the negatives." AM

Radio and television seem to be bombarding consumers with fears of recession and an unstable economy, but the agriculture and farm broadcasting industries seem to be doing very well. The general consensus of most people in these areas is that things are okay. Lynn Ketelsen, director of farm services for the Linder Farm Network, Owatonna, Minn., says consolidation has tightened advertising budgets, but radio is holding its own. "We have seen traditional users of radio stick with it for one simple reason - it works," Ketelsen explains.

"The few independent seed companies remaining continue to enjoy the benefits of radio at spending levels comparable to the last few years," says John Beebe, national and agricultural sales manager, WGN Radio/Tribune Radio Networks, Chicago. "Even some of the now consolidated chemical companies are starting to revive spending in line with their formerly independent components."

Another possibility for the continuing strength of radio is the fact that marketers and advertisers know that a company or product name must be kept in the spotlight, even when budgets are slim. According to John Leatherbury, director of marketing for 1st Farm Credit Services, Bloomington, Ill., frequency is a key to successful advertising. "We try to maintain consistency in frequency at all times. It is important to keep your name in front of prospects and clients, " he explains. "We don't cut back one year and add on the next."

COMPETITIVE EDGE

Advertisers are actively seeking a medium that provides the most "bang" for the company's buck. Radio could be the answer as it is often seen as an economical medium. Several agribusiness professionals agree that a few of radio's strong points are its reach, frequency and immediacy.

Bob Wilhelm, vice president and director of account management at Osborn & Barr Communications, St. Louis, says, "Radio advertising is the one medium that allows the creative element and the message to be experienced in the field or environment where the product might be used."

For Leatherbury, farm broadcasting is the perfect media tool for 1st Farm Credit Services to reach a wide-range of customers at a specific time. He says it is especially beneficial during sales seasons that coordinate with particular products. "Ag programming reaches the people we do business with, and radio allows us to go into the market during peak sales seasons with a time-sensitive message for particular products," he explains. "Planting and harvesting seasons finds producers in tractors and combines listening to the radio - we target that period pretty strongly."

Another strength is radio's ability to be everywhere the producer is. "Farm broadcasters are with farmers when the clock radio turns on, in the shower, at the kitchen table, and in the pickup and tractor cab," says Ketelsen. "Producers depend on farm broadcasters and develop a trust in what they have to say. No other medium has so much of their undivided attention."

Wilhelm adds that farm radio is strengthening because it is finding new ways to add value and is using unique approaches to attract and retain advertisers. He continues saying farm radio has evolved to become a "much more flexible tool."

Ketelsen agrees by saying that broadcasters are "challenged to be more creative in adding value to our clients advertising. At the Linder Farm Network we are doing more field events than ever, building relationships and improving our quality of programming in an effort to ensure our continued success."

Today's marketer must utilize the perfect media mix to be successful, and radio is only one of several viable and effective forms of advertising. Although, the changing lifestyles of agriculture producers are boosting radio's efficiency more and more. "Farmers lead busy lives just like the rest of us. Evenings consist of kids' sporting events, choir concerts, watching movies, looking at the Internet and doing bookwork," Ketelsen adds. "The time that used to be devoted to traditional forms of media has disappeared...and that's radio's big advantage."

A POWERFUL VOICE

The advantages of radio are enhanced even more when there is a credible and knowledgeable farm broadcaster delivering the message. Everyone knows that farm broadcasters serve an important role in the agriculture community and according to Beebe, "the agribusiness broadcaster is the single greatest asset to the agricultural marketer today."

Wait a minute. Back up. Did he say the farm broadcaster was the "greatest asset" to agricultural marketers? Marketers, are you utilizing your assets? Farm broadcasters should be praised for the impact that they can have on an audience, and the knowledge and experience they use to bring products to life through the spoken word.

Wilhelm believes broadcasters have a unique viewpoint that has been gained from personal experiences with producers in tractor cabs and plot tours, which is very credible and valuable. He says a successful broadcaster can use this as "leverage to engage in adding value to the farm customer and to advertisers."

Radio personalities are definitely a great service to advertisers, but they also serve an important role in the agriculture community. They are a key information source. Leatherbury says that farm broadcasters are an important part of the "infrastructure" of a farm community and the families that agri-businesses serve. He says 1st Farm Credit Services is a strong supporter of farm broadcasting, not only because of its reach and frequency, but also because the company wants to help keep this important information source available to producers.

POSITIVE IMPACTS

One key to a farm broadcaster's credibility is his honesty and sincerity. Without compromising that role, in these times of a slowing economy, broadcasters are called to "look on the bright side of things." Despite the recent declines in consumer spending, there is one sector that actually has money to spend - the producer. Government payments over the past several years have boosted agriculturalists' bottom line.

Beebe points out that agriculture and consumer markets rarely share the same cycles. "What we find rather ironic is that producers really do have money to spend," he says.

Now that we know who has the money to spend, the challenge is to boost spending. Greenspan is doing his part with interest rate cuts, but farm broadcasters also can play a part in keeping the economy afloat. Beebe says that farm broadcasters should be aware that the things said on air could be causing producers and consumers to close their pocketbooks and reduce spending in uncertain times. They must remain positive and advertisers must use creativity to put a "positive spin" on their message.

"The impasse is convincing fearful producers to open their pocketbooks ," notes Beebe, "Part of this can be accomplished with the help of the media, who should devote time and space to covering the positive events taking place in the industry. We must all stop dwelling on the negatives." AM


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