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ADOPTION OF AG BRANDS IN TODAY'S TOUGH MARKETING ENVIRONMENT
LANDMARK RESEARCH FROM APA: THE ASSOCIATION OF LEADING AG MEDIA COMPANIES (NOW ABM)
In Agri Marketing's June issue, results from this study confirmed that farmers and ranchers feel the necessity of knowing and learning about your brand before dealers and sales reps even start making calls. The importance of your brand being known, understood, and anticipated at the beginning of the farmer's purchasing process is critical to your brand in generating a satisfied farmer-customer. Two-thirds of the producers first learn about a supplier's capabilities and products via the manufacturer's communications program. And before seeing sales reps, 85 percent of producers prefer to have learned about a supplier and a supplier's products through its communications programs.

DUAL ROLE OF EDUCATING AND BRANDING

As pointed out in Agri Marketing's June issue, producers must deal with an agricultural environment that's changing more rapidly than ever. Fully 85 percent of the producers polled feel the pace of farming and ranching is changing more rapidly or much more rapidly compared to the past. In their need to understand issues surrounding the business of farming, producers continue to rank ag publications (ads and news/articles) as the number one source to learn about new products, equipment and suppliers. Granted, producers rely on an array of media to learn solutions to their many challenges, and a supplier's marketing mix should contain a variety of media, but the foundation should continue to be agricultural publications.

TRENDS IN PRODUCERS INVOLVEMENT WITH AG PUBLICATIONS

One might think that given all the alternative ways a farmer has access to information, that ag publications have become less important in this increasing mix. But, producers feel differently. Ninety-two percent find ag publications to be just as or more important than three to four years ago, and also 92 percent feel their ag publications will be just as or more important in the next three to four years. And the younger the farmer, the more involved they are with their publications, now and into the future. In addition, producers are now reading the same or a greater number of ag publications than three to four years ago.

Not only do publications provide essential information, but they're viewed as offering unique advantages, including convenience of use, portability, credibility, and highly visual presentations. Plus the research shows that there is staying power with publications - 89 percent of producers read weekly or more often. The average number of reading sessions is almost four times per week. Likewise, younger and more Web-savvy producers continue to invest substantial time with their ag publications (see chart 3). Because of this, suppliers' sales messages will continue to appear in a medium that's heavily valued by buyers.

EFFECTIVENESS OF ADVERTISING IN HELPING THE BRANDING PROCESS

Advertising in ag publications continues to be a powerful marketing medium. It's where buyers are exposed most often to sales messages, it's a medium they find important, it helps build perceptions and preferences for suppliers, and it helps keep current customers sold.

When asked to rank types of business-to-business ads in terms of how frequently they were looked at, read or heard in the last month, ads in farm publications clearly were the number one choice with 69 percent of the farmers giving it the top spot. Companies and suppliers who advertise regularly via ag publications garner positive perceptions from producers. They feel that suppliers are more likely to be better established, more stable, more successful, reliable, innovative and customer-oriented.

Producers revealed they have a preference for doing business with companies that advertise regularly, and producers indicate they continue reading a supplier's magazine and newspapers ads after purchasing - helping jump-start the next sale. Magazine advertising helps accelerate the entire brand adoption process - from initial contact through to customer retention.

RESPONSE TREND TO ADVERTISING IN AG PUBLICATIONS

As producers search for product and equipment solutions, they're responding with the same or greater frequency than in the past. Fully 86 percent are responding more often or at the same level compared to three

to four years ago in terms of seeking out or requesting information about products advertised in ag publications. However, this need to obtain information is showing itself in greater usage of more direct response - with nine out of 10 now phoning suppliers, talking to reps, going to Web sites, etc.

In fact, the research indicates that out of every 100 sales leads generated by an ag publication, 71 will be received via direct methods. Suppliers who wish to maximize their advertising ROI must examine the systems in place to identify, track and direct these leads. The research indicates that advertisers fall down in this area with 58 percent of the producers who phone-in for more information not being asked where they learned of it. And 72 percent of those who go to a supplier's Web site are not asked for the source of their inquiry.

SUMMARY

Are times different now than they used to be? Of course they are; but do the basic marketing principles still apply in this changing environment? This study clearly shows that successful ag brands are forged and maintained by the integrated strengths of sales reps, dealers/retailers and communication programs.

To see the full results of this study, please contact one of the sponsoring member companies of APA or print media representative of these companies to obtain them. You also can contact us at info@agrimarketing.com to obtain the results. AM


Research source: "The Adoption Of Agricultural Brands In The 21st Century"; Martin Akel & Associates; 3/02. Results represent all crop/livestock categories combined. They have been weighted to reflect the proper number and types of producers in the U.S. agricultural market.


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