Today, Americans care more about their food than ever before. Since most Americans are removed from witnessing production first-hand, consumers have a lot of real questions about how their food is grown. It’s easy to choose to be annoyed with folks who just don’t know the facts, but when you put yourself in their shoes, it’s just as easy to see why their questions are valid.
You know the old saying “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care”? I think this saying is appropriately applied to the modern producer-consumer relationship. Consumers don’t necessarily care how much you know about food and farming. They don’t really care how many facts you share, or what the facts really are, until they feel like you genuinely care about them, as well as their needs, desires, questions and concerns.
In any other industry, it is now commonplace, and a necessity to marketing, to share the story of the brand, relate to the potential customer at a one-to-one level and provide them with value up-front, before we ever expect them to make a purchase. Today’s consumers need to believe in the brands they buy. They want to be a cheerleader for the products they purchase. Because of this, from now, into the foreseeable future, agriculture will be no different. We must earn the trust of each and every consumer before we can expect them to trust us. In order to do this, we must share our own story about agriculture.
When it comes to the news, we often see agriculture placed in a reactive state. As an industry, we’re constantly responding to the scare tactic of the day. When we share our own stories, we turn the tables on the uninformed and place agriculture in a proactive state. Industry groups are doing this. Many individuals are also taking it upon themselves to reach out to consumers with the daily happenings on their farms. In order to combat the shear volume of negative connotations in the news surrounding agriculture, it’s going to take everyone in agriculture working proactively to share the great stories of our industry.
The trickiest part of sharing our story with the consumer is that we must first realize it is necessary to provide value before we will earn permission to provide information. Permission is simply willingness to listen. Therefore, once you’ve gained permission, you’ve become a reputable source for information. Once you are a reputable source of information, you can be trusted.
While this sounds complicated, it’s really quite easy. Just know this; when it comes to sharing the story of agriculture, facts matter, but stories are what truly engage. People aren’t drawn in by the facts; they’re more likely to be attracted to your story. Consumers want to see how their food is raised, how you care for your animals and what happens on your farm. By sharing your story in an interesting way, you’ll quickly and easily earn permission to provide the facts about agriculture.
What’s the best way to share your story? Consumers want to see your story visually. Use photos and videos on your social media accounts to show them what really happens on the farm. Regularly showing your story is a fantastic way to open the door to a conversation. Once a conversation begins, you know that you have earned permission to provide the facts.
Let’s reach out and show consumers we care about them. Even when we think their questions are biased or judgmental, we should always appreciate those who want to know more about their food and thank them for asking how we make it happen! After all, a consumer who’s asking a question has given you permission to provide them with the facts. A consumer who asks a question also realizes they don’t have all the information at hand. At the end of the day, wouldn’t you rather have them get this information directly from you, the farmer, than some of the other sources they might find?
As a citizen of a developed country, you’re likely counted among the 1.2 billion Facebook users in the world, but did you know that Instagram is the fastest growing social media platform today? Instagram is also where consumers are spending the most time and it’s the easiest platform on which to create cool content! Learn more about creating instant success on Instagram.
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Want to dabble in sharing your story without needing to commit to your own accounts on Instagram? Take over Ohio Farm Bureau’s Instagram account for a day as a part of the #TakeOverTuesday feature. Every Tuesday an Ohio farmer or ag professional takes over the account sharing photos and their story. You only need to be able to text or email photos with captions. If interested email Callie Wells, OFBF communications specialist. See past take over on Instagram by searching #TakeOverTuesdayOFBF