Is There a Case for Influencer Marketing in Agriculture?

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28th February 2020

Is There a Case for Influencer Marketing in Agriculture?

It’s one of the hottest – and also most-hated – terms in marketing today. Influencer marketing. It’s so prevalent, it’s made news headlines for its impact – both good and bad – and the growing need for advertising regulations around influencers, because they are so effective.

But what exactly is influencer marketing? And would it work in agriculture?

What is Influencer Marketing?

Influencer marketing is a term that is used to describe the process of finding an influencer – usually a celebrity or a well-known, knowledgeable person in a particular field or niche – and asking them to promote a business’ brand or products through a series of marketing campaigns.

An influencer is someone who has the power to impact purchasing decisions.

Influencer marketing has risen in popularity on the back of celebrity culture, with the stars of shows like Love Island particularly sought after. But in actual fact, the practice of using celebrities to influence buyers has been a traditional marketing technique for decades – even centuries.

For years, brands have turned to celebrity figures for endorsements and sponsorship deals, in every industry. It’s been dominant in the sporting sector for a long time, with teams and athletes relying on sponsorship deals as an essential revenue source.

And businesses are willing to pay for those sponsorship deals and individual endorsements by world-famous football, tennis, basketball players etc because they get their products in front of their core audience. And because it drives sales.

Does it work?

The fact that endorsements continue to thrive in sports, and that events all around the world – in every industry – always have brand and business sponsorships associated with them would suggest it does.

And then there are the results from studies of the advertising industry in the USA. Influencer Marketing was worth $2 billion in 2017, rising to an estimated $10 billion this year.

Searches for “influencer marketing” on Google have risen by 1500% in the last three years, further suggesting it works and that its popularity is growing.

Indeed, a recent survey of marketers found that 80% believe influencer marketing is effective. 89% said that their ROI from influencer marketing is comparable or better than other marketing channels.

But there are challenges

Although the evidence suggests that influencer marketing is highly effective, there are no guarantees. This is true with most types of marketing, but with influencer marketing, it’s particularly difficult to assess its impact and track sales as a direct result.

It’s brilliant for brand awareness, but perhaps not as effective at driving concrete sales.

It can also be a challenge to find the right influencer for your target audience. It takes a lot of research to partner with the right person. Ideally, you need someone who really identifies with your business and what you sell, is prominent in the industry you work with and has a large following of dedicated fans.

You’ll also need to make sure you have a well thought out strategy. Influencers need a lot of guidance, and you need to set out expectations from the start of your relationship to ensure you get value for money. You’ll also need to make sure you compensate your influencer well.

Would agricultural businesses and customers take to it?

We think there’s definitely a case to be made for influencer marketing in agriculture, and believe that many ag businesses would benefit from connecting with influencers.

Why? Because it’s human nature to look to others for their opinions and suggestions – especially those we trust, respect and look up to.

The psychology of buying suggests we’ve always been influenced by recommendations. We look for social proof all the time. We value it. Professor Robert Cialdini has been writing about the psychology of influence for decades, and its long had a presence in our day to day lives.

Farmers have always looked to friends and family, to older relatives and those on neighbouring farms for their recommendations about new tools, equipment or strategy. They trust what others tell them and will tend to make purchasing decisions based on those recommendations.

With the rise and prevalence of social media, more and more of us in agriculture are taking to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to shout about what we do.  We’re sharing our experiences and those who are innovating, who are trying new things, are getting noticed. We’re the micro-influencers in agriculture.

And our customers and clients look to us for our advice.

You don’t need to be a world-famous celebrity to be an influence. If you’ve got a few hundred people who follow and value you on social media, you can be a micro-influencer.

So if a dairy farmer who has a strong following in their local community, and is known across the sector for the tech innovations on their farm, they have influence over their social network followers. They would be the perfect fit for a new business that sells more efficient dairy packaging, for example, and if they recommended the new packaging to the hundreds of other dairy farmers who followed them, the business would likely see an uplift in sales.

Because the dairy farmers’ followers trust what they have to say and what they recommend. They have influence.

And if you have influence, you are definitely of interest to businesses who want to try influence marketing.

So we’d say there’s definitely a case for it in agriculture. But what do you think?

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