While everyone wants to hold the coveted title of the farmer’s “trusted advisor,” the rapid expansion of technology into the world of agriculture is forcing a change from “advisor” to “advisors.” Most agree that precision technology, its application to equipment and inputs, and the data generated by the IoT is where the action will be for the foreseeable future.
Consequently, the sheer volume of knowable information through which producers must now sort virtually guarantees they will need to work with a team of experts—each functioning in a specific role—to successfully run their business.
Knowing what particular role (or roles) you play in the precision adoption and application process, and aggressively pursuing the knowledge and skilled staff to achieve an edge in your niche, will likely determine future success. Communicating that role through brand storytelling is critical in ensuring your customers and prospects know the value you bring to their operation.
In a recent article in Precision Ag Professional magazine, Darren Goebel, Director of Global Commercial Crop Care for AGCO, outlined some of the roles that various trusted advisors could best serve.
Retailers/Cooperatives. “As precision agriculture evolves, the ag retailer could become the major driving force in this segment. Because retailers have access to crop protection products, seed, fertilizer, and application equipment, they may be in the best place to provide start to finish service. In other words, to ‘just make it work.’”
Consultants. “Their value proposition remains as an unbiased provider of information. I believe consultants can bring together equipment providers, agronomic insights, and the best seed and crop protection options for growers. Consultants may be able to specialize in precision agriculture by carving out an important niche in this space.”
Equipment dealers. “I believe the equipment companies and dealers that are most successful in the precision agriculture space will be the ones that can provide the best service. Uptime is extremely important to growers, especially with the pressure to have timely planting, fertilizing, and pest control. Dealers that have precision agriculture departments that proactively work with ag retailers, consultants, and growers will be held in high regard among farmers, leading to higher sales. It will likely be difficult for equipment dealers to provide the same quality of prescriptions and agronomic advice as ag retailers, consultants, and seed dealers without significant investment in people resources.”
Seed dealers. “Seed dealers have more information about genetics than any of their cohorts, and they have the information much earlier in the hybrid’s or variety’s lifecycle than anyone else. As variable-rate, multi-hybrid, and multi-variety become the norm, the seed dealer will play a more and more important role in data-driven decision-making to ensure accurate placement by soil texture, drainage class, and productivity level.”
So, what’s your strength?
Where do you fit into the picture? Are you strong in one of the niches above, several…or none? What you have done as a business to embrace the precision revolution, strengthen your position in your marketing footprint and evolve with technology will likely determine your success as the next generation transitions into leadership roles on the farm.
Feeling as comfortable as possible with your position? Great. There’s one more consideration. Do your current and potential customers know what you have to offer, what sets you apart, how good you are and, most importantly, how you can solve their problems? This is all a part of the brand story you need to tell.
This is the point at which technical expertise and strong communication must mesh. How are you letting your customer know when you have a new product, service or technical expert to offer? Are you using the appropriate channels to connect with all segments of your audience?
According to a recent study* of agricultural producers, farmers who are learning about a new product or farming technique tend to turn first to university and extension advisers. When the time comes to purchase that product or adopt that technique, they attach more trust to ag retailers and dealers. Overall, the top influencer in a producer’s decision-making process was their agronomist, followed closely by their retailer or dealer.
In this age of instant connections, information is the new capital. Earn—or cement—your status as trusted advisors by providing the actionable knowledge ag producers are looking for to inform their decisions. We can help you with the what, when and how.