Building Assets, Not Expenses

David Lazarenko

In our recent ag white paper, we praised the merits of taking a "balance sheet" approach to marketing. But what exactly does that mean? The best way for me to paint the picture is probably through an example. Here's the brief with both income statement (old way) and balance sheet (new way) recommendations:

Goal: Help western Canadian farmers produce a better canola crop. Communications Objective: Drive farmers to an online diagnostic tool that allows them to quickly and efficiently diagnose and remedy real time, real world crop issues. Audience: Canola farmers and farm influencers across the Prairie provinces. Timeline: During peak canola production periods.

Income Statement Recommendation

Drive as much traffic to the tool through online, email and other digital-based ads (as users are just a click away). Purchase placements in these media across as many digital ag properties as possible (given available budget) and try to extend the duration of the campaign for as long as possible (during the crop production season). Record usage during the campaign and hope that: 1) the click-through rate is high, 2) those that click-through use the tool and 3) once the ads have run, cross your fingers that farmers will come back again and those that never clicked hear about it and use the tool organically. Run the same campaign in year two using new budget to pay for the advertising.

Balance Sheet Recommendation

Take the tool to the traffic by understanding that farmers already have go-to sources for digital ag resources. Do so by creating a “widget-based” version of the tool that can live and function on multiple sites, providing on-the-fly, immediate use for farmers where they already go for content (versus hoping for click-throughs). Partner with ag media and other ag influencers to provide access to the widget on their sites for free, knowing that this content/tool is valuable to them and would require internal funding if they were to create it themselves. Allow these partners to run the widget throughout the entire crop production season for years to come at no additional cost, giving them (and the original client) an asset that will live on their balance sheet well beyond the original investment.

As you can see, the second option is much more attractive as it not only extends the reach and duration significantly, but also does so with a one-time budget that doesn't need to be replenished every year. So, when you are planning your next campaign, ask yourself if there is a way you can turn an expense into an asset and start your own balance sheet movement?


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