Marketing farms and products responsibly
April 14, 2022 by Chrissy Wozniak
Having worked in ag marketing for many years I can talk for hours, even days on how to position a product to gain impressions, follows, sales and profit, how to maximize efficiency in sales and marketing, how to read trends and build reports. But over the last few decades, marketing has become misused – and we in the industry need to lead the fight against this and work hard to promote our products responsibly.
Unethical marketing has contributed to many of the problems the agriculture industry faces. As we all know, the general public has been misled when it comes to food and food production. GMOs, hormones and organics, for example, have been turned into heroes and villains. I remember for years we were convinced that eggs were bad for us. At the time my sister, who was training to become a police officer, would start every day with two eggs, about which I had my doubts. Since then, I’ve seen the light and made the switch myself – but all the while, campaigns have inspired fear in parents who want to feed and raise healthy children. It’s time for us to rewrite this script.
So, when thinking about marketing the products raised on your farm, I challenge you to market in a way that will take back the message and shed light on the truth.
We must resist the temptation to fall into the trap of aligning with this dangerous and destructive messaging, like slapping a “non-GMO” label on your whole wheat bread. Truth should stay at the core of your marketing.
I recently attended a conference where the agriculture economist and podcaster Damian Mason was speaking, and something he said really struck me: no one cares how your phone is made, the consumer just wants it to work and understand what they get out of it.
In recent years producers have made a great effort to share their stories, especially over social media. They explain how crops and livestock are grown and help the public understand where their food comes from. I think this is wonderful, I love seeing on-farm videos of farmers sharing their daily lives. But it doesn’t stop there.
In all messaging, you need to put yourself in the shoes of the consumer, and ask their questions they would be asking – like “what do I get from this?” Better health, stronger kids, longer life, less pain, a feeling of doing the right thing. Whatever you produce, you need to show the world what you do and why you do it – and how it benefits the consumer.
Your purpose should never be to mislead. We need to fight against food misinformation and shine a light on how farms exist to produce food that nourishes people. You can do this by educating consumers and sharing how your product affects their lives, and in turn, nourishes the world.
Chrissy Wozniak is the founder of an agriculture-focused marketing and consulting agency and hosts the podcasts North American Ag Spotlight and What Color is Your Tractor?