What makes farmers love their suppliers?
Many people say that farmers are less loyal than they used to be, and the perfect response I once heard to that is, “No, they are not less loyal; they are less patient.”
Loyalty shouldn’t mean “how many times can I screw up before they leave me?”
What Does Loyalty Mean to Farmers for Suppliers?
Loyalty should mean “What can I and my company do to create better experiences and outcomes for my customers?”
Recently during a focus group discussion, three of five leading farmers gave their local ag suppliers a 10 out of 10, and of the other two farmers, one gave theirs a 9 and the other gave theirs an 8. Those who gave their suppliers a 10 said that their retailers never stop trying to do better, never stop asking what else they can do, that they realize that their customers’ success is their success…a message I’ve been preaching for a long while now. Another grower has a “trusted panel of advisors” that helps him make decisions for the multiple operations he has on his farm, and if you want to sell him something new, you’ve got to get through his advisors first.
Merkle, a customer loyalty company, conducts an annual Loyalty Barometer Report among consumers, and the 2020 report was recently released. The report revealed that for most brands who do business with consumers, they are looking for e-commerce to create a closer relationship with their customers. When you have a strong relationship with a person who bends over backward to help your business succeed, why would you turn to buying on the internet? The short answer is, you don’t.
Farmers turn to the internet when their local supplier doesn’t have what they need, isn’t responsive, is too high-priced, or adds nothing of intellectual value to the transaction.
So, should ag companies forget about e-commerce? I don’t think so. But I also don’t think that e-commerce is about selling a product; it’s about embracing a new way to communicate and creating better experiences for your customers. How closely can you replicate an ideal in-person relationship?
Back to the Merkle study: “Customers expect to be recognized based on their history with a brand.” Farmers know when they buy a lot of your products. Do you? Does your internet platform track this data? You’d be surprised at the feedback I get around this particular topic.
Merkle creates loyalty programs and they have a whole bunch of data regarding those incentives that people prefer and keep them involved. Interestingly, their study confirms Millennium’s findings from our young farmer study several years ago.
Here’s Merkle’s advice:
1) Recognize and reward customers for their purchases.
2) Make your customers’ lives easier.
3) Say “Thank you.”
And saying thank you is the most important one.
So thank you for reading and enjoy your Thanksgiving in whatever shape or form you can.