The Intentional Pursuit of Fresh Perspectives

David Lazarenko

A As a 20-year veteran of agrimarketing, one of my greatest fears is being unable to remove myself from a perspective that has been established and reinforced over time. I know I’m not alone in this worry.

Ag is sometimes viewed as conservative, unprogressive and stuck in its ways due to the average tenure of those leading and shaping the industry over the past two decades. However, outside influences such as the changing workforce demographic, shifting consumer demands and rapid growth of less traditional sectors like AgTech, have driven new perspectives into the industry that many ag organizations are attempting to foster and grow.

From an operational standpoint, this desire for fresh perspectives has manifested in the following trends:

Enabling Youth

As more and more on-farm decision-making gets passed down to younger generations, ag organizations are learning to embrace the input and direction of younger employees. This trend will be compounded as long-standing decision-makers within ag organizations start to retire in more significant numbers, leaving the proverbial reins to Gen Xers, millennials and Gen Zers.

Embracing Outsiders

With many AgTech companies straddling the lines of both the ag and tech industries, there’s been an influx of employees entering ag with little to no understanding of ag. With many younger generations having little connection to rural and farming backgrounds, the overall workforce pool will continue to become “less ag.” Thankfully, many ag organizations have started to view outsiders as less of a liability and more of an asset, given their unfettered industry views. Instead of chalking up their input and thinking as unqualified or uninformed, many are learning to embrace it as novel and unbiased.

Shifting Timelines

While the speed of marketing and digital progression has only increased in the last decade, many ag and agrimarketing leaders have started to shift their strategic focus from immediate/annual needs to long-term/multi-year needs. A great example of this in practice is supplementing an organization’s yearly MarCom plan with the creation of three-to-five-year marketing strategies.

The annual MarCom plan should remain a widely used and important tool for outlining the goals, objectives, tactics, budgets and timelines for a specific year’s marketing efforts. However, creating a three-to-five-year marketing strategy provides a much broader perspective.

Three-to-five-year marketing strategies focus less on the day-to-day, month-to-month and quarter-to-quarter activities in favor of priorities, initiatives and efforts that will take multiple years to plan, develop and bring to fruition. Included in strategies such as these are:

  • New Market Development/Market Penetration Efforts
  • Brand Building/Expansion Plans
  • Digital Infrastructure Development/Optimization
  • Product Lifecycle Management

Long-range planning also supports improved prioritization, which falls in line with Stephen Covey’s Big Rocks analogy. By taking a longer-term view, you can more clearly determine the essential areas of effort (the big rocks, like brand building). In contrast, in annual MarCom planning, long-term initiatives can get passed over in favor of what seems more pressing (the pebbles and sand, like an upcoming tradeshow or updating sales collateral).

About the Writer:

David Lazarenko – Chief Growth Officer

David has spent more than 20 years leading strategy and marketing efforts in agri-business. As Chief Growth Officer at Think Shift, he has led successful brand and product launches, re-branding and brand alignment initiatives, sales campaigns, and corporate responsibility campaigns for some of agriculture’s most successful corporations, including ADAMA, Bayer, Cargill, Monsanto, Trimble Agriculture and Westeel. David’s commitment to agriculture and thought leadership in marketing was recognized with his award as the Canadian Agri-Marketing Association’s 2018 Agri-Marketer of the Year.

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