Inspired Ideas for Your Digital Marketing

By Bob West

“Inspired conversations about food and agriculture.”

That was the billing of the inaugural AgCatalyst event, hosted by AdFarm, an advertising agency with a deep roster of ag clients, and the event certainly delivered. Here I’ll share my primary takeaways from the myriad presenters, but my first recommendation is that you keep your eyes and ears open for this event in 2014. Marketers need not be AdFarm clients to attend — you just have to be interested in advancing your marketing efforts with an emphasis on digital opportunities.

Now, regarding the most notable ideas collected from this year’s presenters:

  • Marketing so useful people would pay you for it. Some of you may recognize this as the definition of Youtility (info on his book called Youtility here), the term coined by Jay Baer, one of today’s hot digital marketing consultants. Baer went on to point out that the difference between helping and selling is just two letters. That’s why he espouses the value of marketing that educates and informs first and sells second, if at all. In essence, Baer preaches content marketing and points to an online and regularly updated map from Kleenex that lets people know what parts of the country are most at risk for catching a cold as an example of this approach.

Baer further illustrated the importance of creating compelling marketing content by noting that the number of information sources people consult to make a purchase jumped from 5.3 in 2010 to 10.4 in 2011 (and is likely much higher now!). The explosion of the web offers consumers so much information about companies and their products that they feel like they must check it out before making a buy, and this is certainly true for the B2B world, too.

The question for you is a two-parter: First, what information does your audience really want or need that you can provide to engage them? Second, are you (and your company) patient enough to take this long-term approach to your marketing to truly commit to doing it well?

  • Your customers or prospective customers have their own interests, and they may not be what you want to discuss. So, engage them by delivering your information around their interests. Jennifer Keller of the Ohio Pork Council shared how her group wanted to boost Ohioans’ awareness of pork and thought this would be best accomplished by educating consumers about the health benefits of pork. One problem people don’t care about the health benefits of pork. They do, however, care about one pork-specific issue: bacon.

So the Ohio Pork Council developed a contest offering a year-long supply of bacon to people who best demonstrated their love for the pork product in pictures. The contest didn’t boost awareness of pork, but it did create tremendous engagement between the Council and their target audience, which gives them a channel for future communications.

  • Titan Outdoor Equipment is a North Dakota-based dealer of Case equipment, and the company has become something of a mini-legend for its success engaging farmers in social media and then selling them used tractors. The company uses just about every social media channel available to it, including Facebook (143,000 likes!), Twitter (7,000 followers), YouTube (100,000+ video views) and even Pinterest. The keys to their success?

First off, companies have to commit to a content marketing strategy. “It’s not worth your time if you’re just going to dabble in it,” noted Al Winmill, who handles marketing for Titan. He also shared three tips for effective social media content. “Be real, be patient, and be entertaining.”

The author is Director of Interactive Sales at Meister Media, and he can be reached at 440-602-9129 or