Good Storytelling: How to Find Newsletter Ideas Customers Will Crave

In this world of Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat, communication happens in an instant. Get an idea, type it in and share your story over the internet.

There’s almost the expectation that if you can’t say it in 140 characters or a couple of snappy phrases, it’s not worth sharing.

Wrong.

People still crave content. Real meaty stories they can sink their teeth into. Something enlightening, surprising or just plain fun.

So when you’re working on content ideas for that upcoming newsletter, take the time to find good stories. When you really listen to customers, suppliers or others related to your agri-business, you might be surprised to find that there’s an interesting nugget in just about every subject matter out there.

Milk from chocolate

Here’s a perfect example of a story where you least expect it. Last fall, I was asked to visit Miller Dairy, Inc. in Hutchinson, Kansas, to take a few photos of the owner who is president of the board of the local co-op. While there, the owners, Orville and Mary Jane Miller, kindly offered to show me around the farm.

After watching Mary Jane bottle-feed a beautiful calf, we ventured into the feed area. Orville talked to me about nutrition, and casually mentioned that they feed chocolate to their cows.

Wait. What? This must be a chocolate milk joke.chocolate_milk_pull_quote-01

But lo and behold, Miller’s cows actually consume about five pounds of chocolate per day. The candy scraps come from a nearby chocolate factory, and are fed as part of the total mixed ration (TMR). It’s a form of energy—just like feeding corn. In fact, using candy byproducts as a feed ingredient is so common that it’s actually part of the computer program his nutritionist uses to formulate the dairy farm’s TMR.

“They eat 100 pounds of feed a day,” Miller explained, “and the five pounds of chocolate is kind of like their dessert. They actually nose through the feed and pick out the chocolate pieces.”

Now there’s an interesting story. And it came up as matter of conversation … when least expected.

So as you think about stories that will enhance your agri-marketing communication, keep these guidelines in mind.

3 ways to find captivating newsletter ideas

1. Visit instead of interview.

If you walk up to a grower and say, “I have a couple questions to ask you about your success with variable-rate application,” he’s probably going to give you a couple of answers. Just a couple.

Instead, take the time to establish a friendly rapport. Talk about the weather, sports, hunting, fishing … or anything else that might get your contact to actually visit with you, not just answer questions. Then let the questions come naturally as part of the conversation.

2. Dig a little deeper.

Ask straightforward questions, and you’ll probably get straightforward answers … often dull, textbook-sounding answers. But if you want content that’s more interesting, switch up your questions. For instance, if you’re doing a story about a complex topic like precision agriculture, ask: “How would you explain that to a group of high school ag students?”

3. Find the story behind the story.

Don’t hesitate to go beyond the topic at hand. It’s often the random comment that is the most intriguing. Or the last thing mentioned when you’re hopping in the truck to leave a grower’s farm. And all of a sudden you think … now that’s an interesting story.

Want to know even more ways to enhance your communication with customers? Contact one of our agri-marketing specialists to get the conversation started, or take a look at our latest e-book:

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