By Aileen Barron
We may be enjoying all that comes with summer but now is the ideal time to plan for your autumn/winter marketing campaigns. By taking the time now to give some real thought to what your objectives are, it will give you a more proactive approach.
In our business, we see a lot of companies who come to us when we are right on top of the season and in some cases they are trying to get marketing initiatives off the ground within impossible deadlines. By planning well in advance you can work more effectively towards what you are trying to achieve. Once the season starts, sales teams, technical experts, and other departments who contribute to your marketing efforts will be telling you ‘I’m just too busy’. If you are trying to compose good editorial, technical pieces or content for marketing materials that’s when things become difficult. If you haven’t discussed your objectives for the season well in advance or communicated them in your marketing materials before your sales team hits the road selling, it can lead to a lack of consistency or simply an under prepared effort. By preparing in good time it also lets everyone on the team know what is happening and when – this will also contribute to an improved internal communication culture.
The aim of your marketing efforts is to consider what your customers need and be ready to remind them of the benefits of your products and services when it is timely to do so. That age old saying, ‘fail to plan, plan to fail’ irritatingly comes to mind! With show season upon us it is also a great time to get out and meet customers in a casual relaxed environment and get a sense of what way they are thinking and what you could do to improve or tailor your offering from last year. You also have some time to review past performance and monitor the yearly trends.
If you need any support, have any queries or would like to get assistance with developing or carrying out your marketing plan this year, contact us at Green Acre Marketing…we love a challenge!
By Lisa Dunphy
As we approach the summer season, preparation for many agricultural trade shows is well under way. Fundamental to the success of any trade show, be it agricultural or otherwise is event management. Event management is one such profession where failure has no hiding place. Preparation is key! A lack of preparation, confidence about your stand position, design and concept, and visitor expectations will land you in an embarrassing situation. To avoid uncertainties, below are some of the most important event management tips to consider in advance, during and after your event.
“Location, location, location” is the case here just like at any other trade event. Most trade shows will offer prime location booths for an extra charge. If you are willing to pay extra, look into this early, as prime locations sell out fast. You may need to think even further in advance. If you plan on attending a trade show long term, year after year, prime location is something you can try to leverage and negotiate into your contract.
Get the look
Visitors are attracted to good looking stands. Use crisp clean lines and colors in keeping with your brand standards. It is imperative to put effort into the concept and design of your stand at an early stage to ensure you portray your brand and message in the best possible light. It will make all the difference between visitors stopping or walking by. Ensure your brand is clear and able to be seen from every direction. Use clear signage, flags, lighting and shrubbery to enhance the stand.
Make your stand approachable
In addition to having that ‘right look’ and appealing design, your stand should be approachable. Professional staff, smartly dressed with branded clothing and name tags are extremely important to the company image. Have a variety of different display options to appeal to different people. Some people like flyers, brochures and reading materials. Other visitors favour visual effects such as a video demo on a screen or tablet. Many will want to engage with staff and ask questions. Ensure you have a good balance of staff available at all times throughout the event with up to date business cards.
Attending trade shows for visitors can be physically tiring as there is lots of walking around. Offering refreshment will be much appreciated. Your offering should be in line with your company culture or stand theme. Water bottles, coffee cups, sweet treats and any packaging should come with your branding or business card attached to help remind visitors where they received it from.
Network! Network! Network!
There are thousands of exhibitors at trade shows looking to connect with like-minded individuals and are willing to talk for free. Many of the distributors and manufacturers are eager to share their experiences about what it took to get to where they are. Make friends with your neighbours, let them know about what you do and find out what their business is. You will want other non-competing exhibitors to refer visitors to your stand when appropriate, just as you will want to refer others to theirs. At trade events you will meet amazing people with incredible ideas, who are more than happy to provide feedback about how to make your product better and share their tricks of the trade.
Reach out on Social Media
It is recommended to prepare a social media marketing plan in advance of your trade show, including a content calendar with nuggets of information about your brand, products on display, exciting items of interest during the lead up and on the day of the event. Another way to engage with people on the day of the event is when visitors have checked in at the venue or mentioned the trade show on social media. Invite them to your stand and offer a special incentive through social channels.
After all the hard work of attending your trade show or exhibition, it is so tempting to pack up and go home. For most exhibitors, this is when the ‘real work’ starts, converting all those precious qualified leads and contacts into sales. Ideally prepare your follow-up plan and literature in advance, set yourself a deadline to get these out within a week of the event. You should collect meaningful information from the participants. Send feedback forms, gather feedback, understand participants’ reactions, gauge expectations and measure the impact of your event. This will help you get valuable insights for future events based on the information received. Make time to connect on social media platforms with all your trade show neighbours and contacts you met at the event. This is invaluable to expanding your professional network and hopefully you will soon see referrals coming your way.
Agricultural trade shows are a fundamental part of the Agri business networking calendar. Green Acre Marketing will do all the work to ensure that your brand delivers the appropriate message and leave your existing or potential customers with a lasting impression.
Contact us at Green Acre Marketing for more information.
When your everyday is consumed by the world of marketing it is easy to forget that not everyone is aware of how marketing products or services has evolved over recent years, and that we, in AgriBusiness, need to embrace these developments.
I recently posted some blogs around the use of social media, including a basic guide to Twitter, and to follow on from them I want to address the topic of Content Marketing. This has come up a number of times from people asking me ‘What is it?’, ‘Why is it different to traditional marketing or PR?’, ‘Does it really help me sell more?’, and ‘How do I go about it?’ – You get the picture.
So, to start from the start, what is Content Marketing? The official line direct from the Content Marketing Institute is that content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action. Put in other words, by us at Green Acre Marketing,
it is the content you create that tells the story of your product, service or brand in a way that is useful to existing or potential customers and further embeds your brand and image in their mind.
Types of Content
There are many types of content that would be relevant to your AgriBusiness customers. For example – How-to guides, Product/Service reviews, Case studies, FAQ’s, Interviews, Templates, Resources, Advice, Technical articles, Product guidelines, Company news, Opinion pieces, Videos, Infographics, Research and original data. Sometimes content may not always relate directly to your product or service but can be viewed as parallel content i.e. content that would also be of interest to your audience.
Remember that content needs to be relevant and worthwhile for the audience you are trying to engage with to keep them interested. Great content also lets you showcase your company’s personality and brand story. The saying ‘people buy people’ is never more true, so let your true self shine through!
Publishing your content
When you have all this great content created, how do you get it published? All companies go through the struggle of getting traditional media to pick up on stories that they would love to tell others about their product or service, but very often those stories are not juicy enough to sell newspapers. This is where digital marketing and social media come into their own. Once you have the platforms set up (e.g Facebook, Twitter, Website, Youtube, Blog) you can publish your content there. For example, write a new blog post on your website and do a Facebook post and Tweet to promote it.
The best part about content marketing and using your social media platforms to publish it, is that you can measure what people like and don’t like, simply by the rate of engagement. Use the Analytics tools available with each platform to find out how many people liked your content, engaged with your content, bounced straight off it, etc.
What to watch out for
Be realistic in how often you can create content. It sounds easy to write a 400 word piece twice a week but, from my experience, unless that is your sole purpose in life, it won’t happen. Set realistic expectations of perhaps two articles a month and once you can keep up the routine then think about doing one per week. Whatever you can manage, be regimental as your audience does not want to be bombarded with material one week and then not hear from you for another 6 months. If you are having a good week creating content, store your drafts and schedule for another week. For example, WordPress allows you to schedule draft posts for publication.
The power of Content Marketing
I am a real believer in the power of content marketing and have experienced it first-hand. I have had phone calls from new customers who said they saw particular pieces I had written. They had formed an opinion that I knew a thing or two about the areas of marketing they needed and, as a result, they picked up the phone to do business with me. So, to the sceptics who ask ‘Can content marketing really drive sales?’ I would say, absolutely.
For assistance with your content marketing strategy or for help with putting a plan together for your AgriBusiness, please contact us at Green Acre Marketing.
A considerable amount of work undertaken at Green Acre Marketing involves developing advertising campaigns and schedules for our clients. We believe that there is still a lot of marketing value in traditional advertising methods but very often there is more to consider to running an effective advertising campaign.
A frequent question asked of us is, what kind of impact will I get if I run an ad in next week’s Irish Farmers Journal? Very often one ad is not enough.
For the advertising element of your marketing campaign to be effective it needs to be part of a larger effort that has considered longer term consistent placement. This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to book a long term advertising campaign either, but it does need to match up with other marketing activity being practised. This means your ad campaign’s objective must fit into your overall marketing strategy, which could include; a targeted email campaign, event, digital marketing placements, PR placements or a broader spectrum of publications etc.
Also, be mindful of where you place your ads within recommended publications. It will depend on your target market e.g. dairy, beef, tillage, etc. Consider key features in the agri press that focus on and are relevant to different seasons and topical farm activity.
The next step is to develop an ad that reflects your brand and is consistent with other marketing efforts. Most companies are tied to specific brand guidelines which is a great tool for achieving consistency. I mention consistency in ad campaigns a lot because an important function of an ad is that it is associated with a strong brand becoming instantly recognisable. It forms an important part of developing or reiterating a brand. Always keep in mind how you would like to have your brand/product/service perceived in the market place and stay true to this avoiding gimmicky messages.
Developing ad content
Cut, cut and cut. Get straight to the point – what does your product or service do? Too often an ad brief will contain most of what is already in a brochure or website and expect that all this is going to fit in the corner of a newspaper. Customers will be familiar with me saying ‘if you are trying to make everything stand out, nothing will stand out – everything is the same’.
It is also important to remember that ad content should not be too technical as it may not communicate your message effectively.
The press sell advertising space based on column widths and every publication has different column sizes. For example, 3 column widths could vary from 87mm up to 135mm. Make sure that the content in the advert will work in all publications or consider buying more space in narrow column publications.
Finally, use a professional graphic designer to get your ad right as they will help make your message more visually appealing and ensure that final ad copy is produced in good quality that will convert onto paper.
If you have any queries or would like to get assistance with developing your ad campaign, contact us at Green Acre Marketing.
For some that attended the recent Agricultural Science Association Social Media training session, the topics discussed around the use of Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook are an everyday reality but the fact of the matter is, for most in our sector, it is not an everyday reality. There is a definite sense that Agribusinesses need to embrace Digital Marketing and Social Media but may be nervous about how to approach it.
So you already know that marketing online is crucial for your business, but before you embark on the journey, have you really thought about why this is the case. Is it just to do what everyone else is doing, or is it to deliver on a specific objective?
Online presence has opened onto a motorway of fast traffic, and lots of it. Don’t get pulled along and lost among all the other traffic. Be strategic in your approach.
Have a clear objective and don’t let it overwhelm you
The most important word I have mentioned so far is ‘OBJECTIVE’. Without a clear objective of what you want to achieve, you cannot know what the right thing to do is. It reminds me a bit of driving out the gate, but with no destination in mind; how will I know to turn right or left, what road to take, how will I know if I am on the right road and how will I even know when I have arrived!
Digital marketing can be somewhat overwhelming and I have been there right at the top of the queue wondering what platforms I should be using, how many I should be using, and how do I use them. The best exercise you can do is sit with your team (or just you and a cup of coffee!) and figure out what you are trying to achieve. If it is about getting a particular message about your product or brand to your customer, well then you need to think about where your customer is hanging out. It also helps to ‘follow’ the people/companies you admire, and see what they do. Facebook and Twitter are particularly useful for that.
Online marketing is about interaction and on some platforms the hard sell is frowned upon by many users. It is about the story and personality behind your business or product. It is about giving the customer something extra. The great thing is, unlike traditional marketing, digital marketing can be measured and you can quickly identify what you are doing right and wrong by using the right tools.
Getting assistance when you need it
For marketing departments who want to clarify their objectives or want to know the best online mediums, don’t be afraid to ask for external help. Use digital marketing professionals who have tried and tested the many platforms and tools available, who know what google likes, who can help you uncover what are the best platforms for you, and who understand SEO and how it works. It will certainly make the journey far easier and more productive.
Let me put all this into perspective. You wouldn’t go out to sell animal feed, fertiliser or such products without knowing the products inside out or you will be soon found out. Treat your Digital Marketing plans like this; hire or use the right resources to deliver what you have identified as the overall objectives of your plan.
Green Acre Marketing provide a broad range of services to assist companies with their Digital Marketing Strategy and we continue to pop in along the way to ensure you stay on track.
Regularly reminding sales staff to build a bank of photos when they are out and about visiting farms, walking crops, etc., is a great way of capturing content, particularly when company products or services are evident and there is opportunity to demonstrate how they have benefitted their customers. The images can be used immediately on Social Media such as Twitter and Facebook to give a snapshot of events as they happen on that day, promoting your customer, their business and, in turn, your business.
Taking photos also generates images for your Marketing staff to use in promotions, brochures, and on social media.
An easy way to ask your sales team for images is to use WhatsApp. WhatsApp Messenger is a cross-platform mobile messaging app. You send the message, for example, ‘I need a pic of winter barley’ and if anyone has a photo or can snap one, they send it on.
Taking the photo
You don’t need the latest high tech camera to take good photos. Camera phones today can take high resolution photos (usually in the file format .jpg) and produce good results however there are a few simple techniques on how to take and edit photos that can make a difference.
Humans look at the world in a few predictable ways. Our eyes follow lines and are drawn to, apart from the centre, four areas of a photo.
Use of lines – A path or fence in the shot draws the eye across the photo or cubicle shots leading into the barn. Think of lines leading the viewer into the photo.
Rule of thirds – Think of your photo divided into three lines horizontally and three lines vertically. The four intersection points where these lines meet are areas of an image that our eyes are drawn to, darting between them. (Picture shows silage rake placed at one of the intersection points.)
Also check what you want photographed is what the camera has focussed on. Try the zoom function, if needed, to get close-ups if you can’t move closer for farm safety reasons.
The sun is great for shots of fields and crops but avoid shooting straight into the sun. Let the sun come in from the side. But you don’t need a sunny day to get good photos. Cloudy days give less dark shadows and have a pleasant feel to them.
Taking photos at the start and end of a day gives a warmer tone to a photo. Middle of the day photos have a bluer tone.
When to take your photos
All the time, throughout the year. In agriculture everything is constantly changing and growing. If you work with crops, photograph a field of winter barley at the early stages and then later in the season. In the dairy and beef sector, all stages of the cattle life cycle and best practice outcomes from the use of your products and services should be captured.
Tidying up your image
You took the shot, had to run and now looking at it during a quiet time of the day have realised something has gone wrong. If you got the shot and it is pretty much in focus, don’t panic.
The most commonly used tricks by photographers are to check the Brightness, Contrast and then Crop a photo. If you need to work the image more, use a picture editor software like Adobe Photoshop Elements or Photos, an app available with MS Windows 10.
For example with Photos, you can do basic fixes: Rotate the image, Crop it, Straighten it up, and correct Red eye. It has Brightness to make the photo lighter or darker and Contrast which makes darks darker and lights brighter.
You can use Temperature (to make the photo cooler or warmer i.e. more blue or orange) or change the Saturation (A little extra saturation may be needed for a photo taken on a dull day. No saturation makes a photo black and white).
Get the shot
Finally, like family photography, it’s better to capture an image, any image, than worry if it has been taken correctly. Get the moment recorded and then decide how best to use the photo to promote your customers achievements and your business.