Seven Trends for 2022 & Beyond
What is Agrimarketing?
Agrimarketing is the discipline of creating, positioning, promoting, selling and fulfilling brand, product or service offerings to entities involved in the agriculture and agri-food industry.
Oh, what a time it is to be a marketer. Not since the advent of broadcast and digital media have we seen such rapid and notable change. In all honesty, this piece could very well be called the revolution of agrimarketing given the magnitude of change taking place in all areas of marketing from brand to digital, strategy to CX, and human resources to sales enablement.
While our process of discovery remained the same this year (seeking out emerging trends within agrimarketing and innovative trends in other industries agrimarketing should be aware of), the challenge was less about identification and more about prioritization. Simply put, with so many trends taking shape all around us, it was difficult to select only seven. So, while we have selected those we believe will have the greatest impact, stay tuned as you will no doubt see more from us on many of the others that did not make the cut into this piece.
Bringing Marketing to HR
If you read the Evolution of Agrimarketing around this time last year, there is a 30% chance that you worked for a different employer at the time. If you read it in 2020, that rises to 40%. That is because North America (and many other parts of the world) are starting to experience the true impact of the Great Resignation and will continue to do so throughout 2022 and beyond. Furthermore, with most North American business leaders stating that finding and maintaining talent will be one of, if not their biggest challenge in 2022, you can best be sure that the world of agrimarketing will be impacted by the state of the talent market as well.
However, outside of agrimarketing’s obvious need to proactively manage their own talent needs and strategies, there is a second impact that this trend will have on our worlds; the leveraging of our unique talents for organizational efforts other than sales, marketing and communications.
We have already seen this trend becoming so significant with our clients that HR has become a new “client within a client” and we would guess that it will not be long until some organizations start considering an agency partner specifically for their HR and recruitment efforts.
For example, we recently used sales enablement strategies to help one of our clients define a more intentional and actionable “Talent Funnel”, complete with journey mapping, lead scoring and conversion optimization.
Goodbye NPS, Hello CES
As e-commerce continues to dominate our consumer lives, its impact is being felt in more ways than the degradation of bricks-and-mortar retail. In fact, the biggest influence that e-commerce has had on all of us is how it’s reframed what we expect and desire out of a customer experience. No matter the situation, a multi-touch, relationship-based approach to customer service is nowhere nearly as attractive as a “give me what I want, when I want it, how I want it” one.
While we still want the businesses that serve us to “know us,” this knowledge is less about remembering our spouse’s names, kid’s ages and anniversary dates, and more about having shared, immediate access to our shopping, purchasing and service details to eliminate any unwanted learning curve. Likewise, while businesses will always be tempted to “create face time” with their customers, believing it to add value to the relationship, this has now become a potential annoyance and/or unwanted touchpoint that simply adds more effort on the customer than what is desired.
And effort is critical. So much so that businesses like the New York Times have now abandoned long-trusted models such as the Net Promoter Score (which measures customer satisfaction based on referral) with Customer Effort Score (which measures customer satisfaction based on the seamlessness of their experience). As agrimarketers we must be extremely sensitive to this trend as much of what we do focuses on leading our customers through an optimal experience, not just for the businesses and organizations we serve, but for the customers themselves.
The Customer Journey
Below is an example of a very "bloated" customer journey with lots of different touchpoints at each stage. It's important for marketers to ask: How many points in the customer journey can be optimized or even removed in order to foster engagement and improve the customer experience?
The Death of the Tagline
One of the most interesting statistics to come out of 2021 was from a study of consumers who recently purchased a new motor vehicle. What the study found was that less then 7% of these individuals could recall the tagline for the automaker they just purchased from. And with new vehicle transactions now averaging over $40,000, this is an astounding finding given the significance of the purchase and the amount of research that goes into it. While many tagline loyalists may attribute this trend to poor strategy (i.e., taglines that change too frequently), poor placement (i.e., taglines that do not get noticed) or simply poor branding (i.e., taglines that just are not good), such a sizeable discrepancy in awareness is typically only attributable to a similarly sizeable change in consumer behaviors.
One could even make the case that this trend has been growing since the death of the broadcast age of marketing. That ever since we as marketers started focusing more on individualized customer experiences, the need for a single, pithy, highly memorable, blanket statement about a brand has been diminished. We even encourage you to ask yourself about the taglines that you now remember by heart (removing any that came from before 2010) as we would guess that they would be exceedingly rare.
Furthermore, we challenge you to recall the taglines for the competitive brands you consistently go up against. As agrimarketers, these would be brands that you are much more aware of and knowledgeable about than your average ag customer. Even then, we would guess that you would be hard-pressed to name even a handful of their taglines. So, if we as highly informed experts are not aware of these taglines, what are the chances that anyone else is?
The Rise of the Rallying Cry
Value, like energy, rarely goes away completely and instead is transferred or has been transformed into something new altogether.
Given this, we were reminded of an anecdote from the history of our organization which had to do with our past CFO’s need to conduct significant monthly and quarterly reporting for a previous boss. Inevitably, upon completion of the habitually laborious task, our CFO found that the reports he prepared consistently went unread by his boss, instead forming a growing stack of paperwork in the corner of the office. Growing frustrated, he finally asked why he had to produce the reports if the boss was not going to read them anyway, to which the boss replied, “they’re not for me, dummy, they’re for you.”
The same can be said of a tagline. While the value of a tagline for external audiences may be diminished, its ability to create internal audience alignment may now be where its value lies. Just think about it, as we have moved into an age where actions speak louder than words (i.e., customer experiences > ad copy), and if an organization’s culture is the biggest driver of their actions than the need for a single, pithy, highly memorable, blanket statement all employees can rally around makes complete sense.
From RADical to DAREing
As an agency that has been helping organizations define and develop their brands for over 20 years, we have long believed in and espoused a simple yet powerful test for brand positioning. This test, known as the RAD Test (or the brand lens), posits that the best brands in the world all have positionings that fall within the overlap of the following criteria:
However, as brand clutter and marketing noise have now become the most significant competitor to any brand’s ability to “get noticed,” we have started to question whether our test needs to adapt and include a fourth criteria:
When working with the branding legend, Marty Neumeier, on the development of our progressive brand offerings for ag, he shared that one of the requirements he had for the clients he worked with (having earned the freedom to choose his clientele due to his success) was that they must be willing to be uncomfortable. That he would not allow his clients to settle for something that was not daring or evocative enough to get noticed by their audiences.
Normative vs. Differentiated Customer Experiences
Would you rather your marketing be good or be different? How about good or good and different? Our guess is that most of you would choose the final option (good and different) as it provides the benefits of two worlds (quality and differentiation). Unfortunately, when it comes to customer experience, you may not be as apt to make the same choice. And that is likely because we have all been taught that customer experience is less about differentiation and more about standardization.
More specifically, in the world of customer experience, we tend to grade touchpoints as either good or bad (or somewhere in between) based on a certain standard of practice. For example, if you think of the touchpoint of customer service calls, we tend to look at things like speed of answer, length of call and speed of follow-up as standards to measure (with certain industry norms being set as benchmarks for superior performance). What we do not tend to think about is branded greetings, enjoyment of call and value-added follow-ups.
One of the best examples of the difference between a normative versus differentiated approach to customer experience can be seen in the way Disney approaches the menial task of maintaining smoking areas. While a normative approach to customer experience would dictate that a smoking area should be cleaned a certain number of times a day with cigarette butts removed from ashtrays regularly. Disney not only meets but exceeds the standard through differentiation by not just habitually cleaning their smoking areas and ashtrays but also stamping the sand in the tray with a stamp of their logo or Mickey himself each time.
Customer Journey Touchpoints
As agrimarketers review their customer journey touchpoints, they should not only consider where they can improve, but where they can differentiate from the competition as well.
The Fallacy of Brand Loyalty
For anyone who has read our previous content, we apologize if it would appear as though this trend contradicts the position we have taken in the past that brand loyalty is alive and well in agriculture. The truth is that it both is and is not, and this trend is merely a cautionary tale on making assumptions that are not true. Simply put, when it comes to brand loyalty, agrimarketers must be incredibly careful in how they go about assessing and measuring it.
This was made abundantly clear during a presentation we attended with an association called Mirren when a representative from a large global agency shared the findings of their research on fast food brands. As one of the agencies for Taco Bell, they underwent research to determine whether their customers were “brand loyal” and found that yes, a good proportion of their clientele were frequent, repeat purchasers of their products. However, upon follow-up research with these customers, they made an interesting discovery. That these same customers were also frequent, repeat purchasers of McDonald’s, Burger King and Subway, and that what was perceived as loyalty to a specific brand was just loyalty to an entire food category.
The same can and does apply to agriculture. As most producers frequently and repeatedly purchase significant amounts of product, one could easily misconceive a repeat purchaser of theirs as a loyal customer when the truth may be that they are also repeatedly purchasing products from similar organizations/brands as well.