AgMarketing Debate: Print or Digital

AgMarketing: Print vs. Digital

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Just how digital is the ag demographic, and how does that affect the work we do in our marketing?

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A few short weeks ago I shared the three biggest lessons I’ve learned in marketing to America’s farmers. I mentioned that, among other things, growers have become increasingly digital in their work and lifestyle. Despite some lingering rural Internet speed inequalities, farmers have adjusted to the digital age with the rest of us.

Farmers use technology to do their jobs better, faster, and more reliably. Furthermore, they engage with marketing tactics that are purely digital, like:

  • following industry blogs
  • receiving grain marketing updates via text or Twitter
  • subscribing to email campaigns that help them grow and sell smarter

But was I overstating the role of online marketing in the farm segment? Just how digital is the ag demographic, and how does that affect the work we do in our marketing?

Farmers Aren’t One-Dimensional

I had to shine a light on my own bias this week when I read Diane Martin’s article on AgriMarketing.com.

Martin shows some love for digital marketing, but makes the case that “print is still the #1 source for farmers to learn about new products.” Research, according to her article, has shown that ag customers tend to engage with print earlier than digital, and that print can be a jumping-off point into their digital journey.

When marketing to farmers, a smart print campaign today might be the best way to open the door to more sophisticated digital tactics tomorrow. I’m learning to let users take that first step where it’s most comfortable for them, and when the time is right, invite them to be part of what we do digitally, as well.

Working in Concert

This can be a warning or reminder to each of us: print and digital shouldn’t be viewed as competing or incongruent. In a well-designed agribusiness marketing strategy, print and digital can work in harmony; one making the introduction and setting the stage for the other.

When the “print vs. digital” question comes up in your marketing strategy—ag-related or not—don’t assume the answer is either/or. The answer might be yes, and your job will be to find the right balance of both media.