How to Reach Consumers with Agriculture’s Message
In the last post of this agricultural literacy series, we covered some of the main questions that consumers are bringing up today. We looked at where you can go to find these questions and how you should approach answering them. In a nutshell, we wanted to remind you that you should use consumer curiosity to help build relationships between the ag community and consumers. So, now that we’ve established that curious consumers are pretty much the best kind, another question remains. How do we reach these consumers with the answers they’re looking for?
The answer boils down to one word that I’m going to repeat three times for the sake of tradition: location, location, location.
Makes sense, right? You’re only going to be able to reach consumers with agriculture’s message if you’re in the right place. With that in mind, your next question should be this: Where are these “right places”? Where are the best places for reaching consumers?
I’m so glad you asked, because we have a list. Each of the places listed below could potentially be great venues for you and your team to build connections with curious (and not-so-curious) consumers.
1) The local grocery store.
You know how the characters in the movie White Christmas say, “The best things happen while you’re dancing?” Well, that’s true, but it can also be said that “the best things happen while you’re shopping.” Depending on what kind of grocery stores are in your area, there might be a chance you can become a part of the local consumer’s shopping experience by having a presence in the store. Ask the store manager, and maybe you can get permission to set up a display or series of signs that shoppers can interact with as they browse the canned goods or as they stand in the check-out line. Through these additions to the local grocery store, maybe you’ll answer a question that some food-eater has been wrestling with for years. Or maybe you’ll answer a question someone didn’t know they even had. Regardless, it would be beyond valuable to get in front of people in the one place they probably think about food the most.
2) The nearest farmers market.
For all the foodies in the nation, farmers’ markets often serve as a fun and hipster alternative to the grocery store. It’s the place to go for fresh fruits and veggies. It’s also a great place to find homemade soaps, candles, and pastries, along with any other farm-related product you can conjure up. Not only are farmers markets a place to go when food is on the mind, but they’re also a great place to find curious consumers. In fact, a lot of times, farmers markets attract the kind of people who think about their food the most. What better place for your group to show up with your knowledge of agriculture?
So here’s our idea: install a stand-alone display in your local farmers market. Or figure out how to get a booth space for you and your ag group. Do what Michigan’s Genesee County Farm Bureau does. They rent out a spot in the indoor Davison Farmers Market and had us create a display that fits snug up against the wall. It includes a photo booth, some educational signage, an “ask a farmer” submission slot, and a TV monitor that plays footage produced by the farm bureau. Thanks to this display, the Genesee County Farm Bureau can still educate consumers about the agricultural community even when staff members aren’t at the market.
3) Your county fair.
This one should come as no surprise. People may come for the fried cookie dough and funnel cake, but they stay for the animals. At least, some of the time. I mean, who can really resist the newborn animals tent? There’s nothing cuter than a young goat skipping around his pen or a pair of young lambs snuggling up with each other. Baby calves? Wow. They’re just way too adorable. So why not use this opportunity to teach consumers a bit about what happens on a farm? Pick a spot on the fairgrounds and set up your display and exhibit materials there. Teach folks the truth about agriculture. Help dispel some of the myths going around about modern-day farming. Give them a display to read or look at while they’re eating all that fried fair food.
4) Community events.
Whether it’s simply lending your farm facts display to a kids’ event at the library or hosting an event of your own, don’t forget the power of the local community. There’s already so much happening in towns and cities across the nation, sometimes it’s just a matter of showing up. Figure out how to get involved and how you can incorporate your group’s own educational elements. Many community gatherings often have a place for small displays and other compact learning tools. Or, if you want to put an event on yourself, do it! Consider which public facilities in your area would work well as venues for a community event. Find out what people like and how to get them engaged.
Someplace somewhere, kids are primed for learning. Often, this place is a school building. Whether public or private, schools are one of the best places to go in order to reach the youngest generations. Not only that, but many schools are probably looking for more ways to reach out to students or for more information to teach students. The same thing goes for homeschool groups. Let the school or co-op know about your group and about your mission to spread the truth about agriculture. Find out how you can get involved with the students. Maybe it’s a donation to the school, sponsorship of an event, or even an in-class presentation. Since the best way to teach is through hands-on or visual methods, capitalize on that by being the visitor who brings the fun activity or the cool display.
6) Your headquarters.
Does your group have a home base? Maybe you and your team share a small office building. Or maybe your team has an entire facility at its disposal. Whether the space is big or small, there’s always a good chance you get occasional visitors. So why not make that space warm and inviting? Why not equip that space with a couple helpful educational tools? Not only will it help educate your visitors and make them aware of what you’re all about, but it might just help your own team bond over the shared knowledge about modern-day agriculture that you stand for.
This is pretty much what the AgroLiquid fertilizer company did a few years ago. By employing our skills in designing and creating exhibits, they transformed a large section of their new headquarters building into a full-scale, museum-style exhibit. This IQhub is an excellent resource for clients, consumers, and employees alike to learn about the importance of fertilizers and to better understand what AgroLiquid is all about.
All these physical locations are truly good ideas for how your group can reach consumers with agriculture’s message. However, before you go to any of these places, probably the first place you and your group should go is online. You want your group’s name and site to be popping up on web searches. After all, it’s often visits to a website that turn into visits to a physical location. Make your site modern, mobile-friendly, and easy to navigate. Direct people to an events or resources page, where you can share about the learning tools and educational events that you offer consumers. If you have a display or exhibit, talk about it on your site. Let people know your group’s desire to spread agriculture’s message for the sake of transforming curious consumers into informed consumers.
Again, it’s all about that one word: location. So find the locations that best suit your group. Plant yourself there. Use the tools you have. Help make a difference in the lives of consumers by sharing agriculture’s message with the world.