Speciality boutique Agriculture media websites provide a hub for efficient and effective Agriculture Marketing and information sharing. Think back in time, when shopping districts were driven by local downtown merchants, which now has been taken away by suburban big box shopping centers along major highways. Similar in the AG world it was a niche market with face to face sales with several companies selling competitive products, In the last several years things have changed to companies consolidating to bigger entities, which has resulted in staff cuts, over worked staff, and less competitive choice for consumers.
Why is niche and specialized so important? For example, I have been a part of Swineweb.com for 13 years and operated a virtual trade show Farmershowcase.com. After testing and seeing a specific portal for the Pork Industry thrive and the General AG site stay neutral, we consolidated Farmerhowcase.com into a Crops site (Growerspoint.com) and launched separate sites for Poultry, Dairy, and Beef. This has allowed each website to contain relevant content and information to that specific Industry. Customers and users wanted direct target marketing to a type of Producer, not general AG marketing “hoping” to reach their target.
Quoting a study by Successful Farming, for instance, MarketingtoFarmers.com cites that “70 percent of farmers are online daily, and almost a third are online multiple times each day”. This was no doubt helped by the fact that in the past eight years, the number of farms with internet access rose from 60% to 71%, further closing the gap that divides growers from the national average of around 74%.
Swineweb.com thrived due to the geographic and content focus for a specific sector (Swine) while Farmershowcase.com stayed stagnant, as it was too “General”. Farmershowcase.com had too many categories, which created confusion and lack of specialty reach. In local communities’ consumers would shop downtown to socialize and shop for a specialty jewelry/clothing product, or to enjoy a cup of Java from an independent cafe. This was vital for small business and a community feel but that changed to fast and convenient big box stores all in the same location. This has created less product choice, mediocre customer and more traffic congestion/less walk-ability. In Agriculture media the trend has been to go more Digital, but we see Magazine ads sold out. To get over the hump in Digital Marketing, there seems to be a requirement for metrics to provide viability, which, I disagree is an effective way to measure effectiveness.
Tracking data by a report and saying it was a success due to higher impressions does not mean the advertising was effective. For example, the Gold Standard for everything AG is Agriculture.com. You will have higher “impressions” and readership, because it is not as specific, then you might on Swineweb.com. Just as Walmart has a higher amount of traffic in the store but it lacks on defining a choice of multiple or specialty products. The point I am making is as companies are larger and marketing is delegated with less focus. Many Marketers are relying on is the” best traffic report” or most general large site to fit the needs to show a number rather than slowing it down and target marketing right in front of your audience on a niche site. If you market on a niche site, the overall traffic may be lower but the effectiveness is higher due to your target reach. Relying on numbers is not the answer unless the number is absolutely viable in showcasing effectiveness. Effective marketing is about increasing sales, and awareness from being in the right specialized places, frequently. On a targeted niche Agriculture site, you have a daily connection with your target. Where as, with a magazine (print ads) it is usually monthly, or a trade-show where you have one to two days during the event.
I wrote a previous article about the Effectiveness Online Advertising in Agriculture. http://growerspoint.com/the-importance-online-advertising-in-agriculture-by-jim-eadie/ In all aspects of marketing I still stand true to the statement that there is no science to prove an “exact” method for what works in marketing. However, the need to: market is vital, while having a high exposure level in the right places, along with a combination of things right to make a marketing campaign successful.
I challenge you to do is, think about our industry and how we can be efficient and effective with a marketing strategy. The mentality has been you HAVE to go to a tradeshow or people will wonder if you’re in business anymore. You should see a niche boutique Agriculture site that is a 24/7 hub for daily content as a place you HAVE to have a presence on. Embrace the higher frequency and repetition, digital Is the future!
(Jim Eadie oversees Swineweb.com, Poultryproducer.com, Growerspoint.com, Dairyproducer.ca, and Beefproducer.ca and has been involved in digital media in Agriculture for over 15 years. In his spare time, he enjoys hiking in all areas of Canada and the USA as well as spending time with family.)