Farming ad campaigns can be a great way to boost your local farm’s reputation, but some farmers are starting to think twice about the marketing.
The Agriculture Advertising Promotion Association (AAPA) has just released a new study that finds that farm billboards are often not a good marketing tool.
“I think a lot of farmers are a little concerned about that,” says Jim Riggs, a marketing strategist for the AAPA.
“The fact that they don’t know that they’re being used as an advertisement is really alarming to them.”
What’s the problem?
The AAPA says farm billboards aren’t advertising, but they do give farmers a good way to market themselves to potential buyers.
In the study, farmers were shown a range of billboards that displayed their farm’s name and the farm’s location.
Farmers who were shown the farm ads had higher sales of their products.
Farm ads have long been used as a marketing tool by the farming industry, but these new studies show they’re not necessarily a good one.
“Farm ads are just another form of advertising,” says Rick Smith, CEO of the AAUP.
“They’re not really a way to engage the consumer and get the message out there to the consumer that’s really what farmers are about.”
Agricultural advertising is a huge business in the U.S., and the AAU study finds that it is being used to boost sales for nearly one-third of the nation’s farms.
The AAUP says farmers who are exposed to farm advertising are more likely to be concerned about their farm and less likely to buy their products, while those who are not exposed to any advertising are less likely.
“The fact of the matter is, if you’re a farmer and you’re going to be out in front and not going to buy your products, you might want to get some more advertising,” Smith says.
“If you’re not out in the marketplace, you don’t need the marketing.”
For farmers who don’t want to buy the ads, Smith says they could use another marketing strategy: the AAAP is looking to create new billboards that use images that are not just of the farm but also of other farms.
Agriculture Advertising Promotion Agency (AAAPA)A billboard that features an image of a farm, with a farm sign and a farmer’s name.
Agra-Briar Cooperative in the San Joaquin Valley, California, says it’s been using Farm Advertising Messages to communicate with farmers since 2008.
The messages are meant to promote the value of their farm products and to highlight the value and diversity of their communities.
Agria-Brisco is one of the many farming cooperatives that use Farm Advertising messages.
The company has been running Farm Advertising Messages in a variety of locations around the state since 2008, including at the San Jose State University and the University of California at Santa Cruz.
“If you have an area that’s growing the most, then that is going to have the most opportunity for you to get a message out to farmers,” says John Riggs of the Agra-Brisco marketing group.
“That’s what they do.”
A billboard in San Francisco, California.
Agribusiness companies are using the billboards to communicate to farmers that they are a “must-have” product in their communities, says Riggs.
Farm advertising messages have a tendency to be a little bit outdated, he says, but the AAEP says newer billboards are a great solution to an old problem.
“Agriculturally, we’re not just going to throw the word ‘farm’ in there, but we’re going use the word in the advertising,” Riggs says.
The AAAAP says this year’s Farm Advertising Message campaign was the first of its kind to use the “new and exciting” term.
Riggs says the AAIPA is not against farmers using their advertising, as long as it’s targeted and has a purpose.
“Farmers are farmers and they want to be represented, but at the end of the day they’re consumers, too,” he says.
Riggles says that the AAIAP’s study shows that a farmer who has seen an advertisement that is not of the farmer’s own brand is less likely than someone who has been exposed to it to buy products from the farmer.
He says farmers could try to avoid using their farm billboards by reading a message from a local farmer’s organization or participating in other programs that help local farmers, such as the Agribuscare Farm and Ranch program, which gives farmers discounts on farm products.