When it Comes to Marketing your Agribusiness, are You a Horseshoes and Hand Grenades Communications Planner?

This time of year many agribusinesses stress planning.

“Plan for next year’s hybrid placement and effective fertilizer use. And make those plans by tapping the knowledge of your local agronomy expert, the person who knows your operation.”

That’s excellent advice for creating next year’s communication crop, too. Let me sweep aside the accumulated seed corn guides on my desk so we can set guidelines for your 2017 newsletter and magazine harvest.

Say your first goal is making the ag journalism process easier and more effective. Working with communication experts to take advantage of their marketing services is an obvious step. But there’s the question of directly interfacing with the professionals who interview, photograph, design and proofread your publication. Do you really have time to come up with a list of possible stories and schedules the interviews for impactful content that will meet your marketing communication objectives?

If you put a value on personally working with your out-sourced ag marketing communication team, that’s great. Otherwise, designate a liaison within your organization, and grant this liaison some of your authority. A stand-in without backing from the top will be ignored, and your publication process will stall. When your staff dodges interviews or forgets to send photos, the pre-determined objectives of the newsletter or magazine process quickly erode and you start missing project deadlines. Eventually, your chosen delivery date dies a sad little death.

Unless, your mailing deadline is the real problem. Did you choose a time for interviews—the typical start of a publication process—in a busy season for many of your employees? You can either reevaluate your mail date or help your staff come to grips with the value of timely ag marketing communication for customers and prospects. (Just a quick shout-out to the marketing services provided by VistaComm: Our ag journalists are willing to make the interview process EASY! We typically take no more than 30 minutes to gather information from a division manager or other interviewee and we’ll meet your staff or customers wherever is most convenient for them.)

Now, let’s talk a little about your mailing schedule as a whole. When did your agribusiness newsletter or magazine actually hit mailboxes last year? That’s the reality of the process. Typically, a newsletter requires four weeks from interviews to mailing and an additional 5-7 days for standard-class delivery. A magazine takes six weeks. Think about it. If you want to get those pre-harvest messages or year-end pre-pay information to your customers, you’ve got to plan for it then stay on schedule with your publications that outline this critical information. Design your mailing schedule with this one question in mind: What do we want our customers to do when they read the newsletter? If, for instance, you want them to make input booking decisions, plan for communication that arrives while they’re still making those decisions. You know what they say about horseshoes and hand grenades…

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