Blog

Latest Beck Ag Brief Complete

Forecasted grower budget intentions are a critical planning assumption for crop input manufacturers, distributors, and retailers. Even small year-over-year swings in budget intent within a category, positive or negative, can have dramatic influences on production/supply, logistics, marketing effectiveness, the nature of customer(s) relationships, organization/sales team/sales person revenue performance, and ultimately the bottom line.

Beck Ag, via our Ag Insight division, recently completed our latest Beck Ag Brief, in which we listened to 225 corn/soybean growers in the Midwest for our Grower Budget Intentions Study, focusing on crop inputs for 2018. In addition to budget intentions, we also assessed grower plans relative to overall business and investment strategy. Our team of agriculture, business management, and marketing research experts analyzed the results and compared findings to similar insights gathered in 2017. A few highlights of the study include:

  • Midwest corn/soybean growers surveyed continue to actively seek new approaches and technologies to improve their business. As examples: 61% plan to increase investments in land improvements, 40% plan to increase investments in new data and decision support technologies, and 37% plan to increase purchase of products from sources other than local retailers/dealers.
  • Not surprisingly, we continue to see a theme of cost containment, with flat to lower  per-acre expenditure for most corn and soybean input categories.
  • While this data shows a small shift in acres from corn to soybeans, this study indicates a small year-over-over increase in acreage for both crops.

Clients have used this data in the past to compare against other market information they have gathered and trends they have identified. Others have used the information as a foundation for business training and planning, in combination with Beck Ag’s market instruction or strategy capabilities.

To learn more about this study, discuss results and implications for your business, or to brainstorm actions your organization should consider for success, please contact Robert Weaver, Vice President of Ag Insight at rweaver@beckag.com or 317-840-8046.

Beck Ag Briefs are voice-of-customer reports generated via our Ag IQ and Ag Insight capabilities. Beck Ag’s Ag Insight division delivers the highest quality marketing research solutions to help our clients achieve desired business results. Ag Insight solutions are designed and delivered by a holistic and integrated approach to problem solving. Ag Insight is one service in Beck Ag’s overall approach to providing actionable go-to-market solutions for agribusinesses.


Sheila O’Dea and Robert Weaver Join Beck Ag

Beck Ag, Inc., a company dedicated to providing measurable go-to-market solutions for agriculture companies and organizations, is expanding its market insight and strategic intelligence competencies with the hiring of Sheila O’Dea as vice president of Go-To-Market Solutions, Ag IQ and Robert Weaver as vice president of Ag Insight.

“Beck Ag is proud to welcome both Sheila and Robert into these critical roles,” said Stephanie Liska, CEO of Beck Ag. “Both Sheila and Robert have decades of experience in their respective fields of customer intelligence and research, and we’re thrilled to have their expertise as we continue to develop and execute strategies for our clients in these areas to help them achieve their sales and marketing goals.”

Founded in 1997, Beck Ag made its mark specializing in facilitating conversations with ag professionals allowing peers to connect with each other, as well as with top industry experts, to enable sound decision-making about products, services and solutions. Currently, Beck Ag showcases five primary capabilities which clients can utilize individually or in tandem: Strategic Planning and Execution; Market Insight and Research; Market Instruction and Education; Market Influence; and, Market Intelligence.

As vice president of Ag Insight, Weaver will be responsible for leading all aspects of the Ag Insight business unit including strategy, business development and operations to assist Beck Ag clients in gaining insight and intelligence in the ag marketplace. Weaver holds both Bachelors and Masters of Science degrees in agricultural economics. His previous experience includes leadership positions at Adayana, The Context Network, and the Farnsworth Group. “I am excited to join the Beck Ag team,” said Weaver. “Beck Ag has a strong reputation in the ag industry for delivering measurable results, and I look forward to building on its success and delivering effective and practical marketing research solutions for our agribusiness clients.”

In her new role as vice president of Go-To-Market Solutions, Ag IQ, O’Dea is responsible for leading strategy and business development to assist Beck Ag clients in leveraging customer intelligence and data to efficiently and effectively build customer relationships, increase profits and grow market share. Prior to joining Beck Ag, Sheila worked at AGDATA in a variety of positions, including general manager and COO. Sheila’s experience also includes 18 years at Griffin LLC and American Cyanamid in sales, logistics, finance and information technology. “Beck Ag has built a solid intelligence foundation, and I’m looking forward to continuing to build out this competency and work with clients to best leverage its strategic benefits in the future,” said O’Dea.


Learning Lessons: Social Media Campaigns in Ag

Producers and those in the channel are learning and making decisions every day using their preferred mediums. A strong go-to-market strategy must include multiple tactics that work across mediums to move decision-makers and influencers from awareness to adoption as quickly as possible. As social and mobile capabilities increase, so does the use of these platforms by decision-makers in our industry to get the information they need. Smart phones have changed the flow of information, and we all know that most folks in the ag industry have some sort of social media account. In fact, 1 of every 5 minutes people in the US spend on mobile is on Facebook or Instagram.

Countless studies have verified that digital, including the use of social platforms, will continue to be a part of a strong go-to-market strategy. Studies have also confirmed that marketers will invest in quality over quantity. With this in mind, a successful go-to-market strategy in ag must include digital tactics to reach the target audience to inform and engage decision-makers and influencers.

However, one size does not fit all – especially in our industry. We have engaged with more than 60,000 ag professionals on social platforms the past 6 months, and the following illustrates what we have learned.

  1. Time of day engagement is predictable. It’s not surprising, but no one was checking out our content before 6 am. Times of engagement were like clockwork: a few early morning checkers, a burst at noon, followed by a slow crescendo until 5 pm. From there we saw engagement increase again at 5 until we peak around 8 pm for an hour or so, and then we taper off until those early morning checkers wake up. The bottom line: like we already know, folks in ag have pretty big day jobs. They may receive content at noon or late afternoon, but between 8 and 10 pm offers the best window to get their attention.
  2. Social campaigns are easy to measure. Compared to more traditional mediums, social campaigns allow for engagement and two-way communication when intentionally planned and monitored, which should aid in relationship building. Also, these campaigns are easy to measure in terms of who’s viewing, reacting, or engaging with content. The right analytics allow us to see where decision makers are in the buying process, and what kind of content or follow-up they need to keep moving them closer to adoption.
  3. Social media isn’t just for the young ‘uns. Social media used to carry the connotation that it was just for Gen Z or millennials, but the fastest growing demographics on social media in recent years have been baby boomers. In fact, boomers are 19% more likely to share content compared to any other generation. While we’ve had some variation depending upon what kind of campaign we were running and who we were targeting, the ages of 55-64 never failed to represent; they are consistently either the top one or two demographics to engage with us.
  4. Social platforms make it easy to get super-targeted. There are a lot of ways to drill down and display content to certain segments within ag. We use our proprietary AG IQ Intelligence to get as granular as possible with both with our targets and our message. We’ve found that a super customized piece of content targeted to the right decision makers will almost always drive action of some sort that we can measure.

 

 

 

Overall, we are excited about the opportunities to engage and share content, all while learning more and more about the behaviors and preferences of those in ag. Here’s to the next 6 months of learning!


Quality of Engagement Matters

Quality (of engagement) is never an accident; it is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction, and skillful execution.

Winter conference meeting and trade-show season is coming to an end. This year, I had the chance to attend several ag events – all with a trade-show of some kind available for producers to learn more about ag industry clients’ technologies, services, and product offerings. My observation: quality of engagement was shallow, and return on time and investment was most likely poor for many trade show sponsors, exhibitors, and attendees.

Throughout my long career in ag, I’ve attended more informational/educational events than I can count, and have seen the ups and downs that largely coincide with our industry’s cycles. I also recognize the investment, not just in pre-event PR and exhibitor/sponsor cost, but also the human capital expense that is associated with the decision to be involved in trade shows, and how difficult that investment, and associated return on that investment, is to measure.

Over the past several months, more than before, the investment for many organizations appeared to be high, yet the traffic through booths was low – and engagement with producers not very in-depth. I observed that overall enthusiasm and purpose from many exhibitors was lacking.

This brings me to my question. What is your plan for the fall season? How will you become much more intentional with your tradeshow and producer engagement dollars? How will your tradeshow strategy be a part of the overall go-to-market and relationship-building strategy you have with your customers? How can the quality of engagement advance your value proposition? And of course, how will you measure success?

Tactically, how are you preparing those staffing the shows? How will you drive qualified customers to your exhibit and what are your next steps if they are there?

An intentional plan, skillfully executed, will drive relevant and high quality engagement; it will drive success. Based on my observations this year, I question the future of agricultural industry trade shows as an effective way for companies to engage their ag professional audience unless organizations become much more intentional. This intentional plan needs to consider the engagement strategy (pre, during and post event) and content strategy (what discussion of value are we having?).

Beck Ag has spent the past 20 years engaging producers with relevant content of value and helping organizations think differently, and intentionally, about their go-to-market strategies. As tradeshows hit the “reset” button prior to late summer, there are some simple areas we can help organizations to be more intentional and deliver a quality experience for customers, and more importantly increase the likelihood of success and raise the ROI of the event.

Let me know if you agree with my thoughts and share your experiences.


The Jacket

It doesn’t fit anymore, but I still have it. It is faded a bit and my kids have tried it on. All the pins are still in place. It has been almost 35 years since I’ve worn it. That jacket, in that box in our basement, has more memories and more learning than all of my other high school classes combined.

This is National FFA week. I’ve taken the time this week to reflect on what FFA has meant to our industry, to my career and to Beck Ag. The Future Farmers of America; thirty-five years ago we didn’t just use the acronym. We were all involved in FFA because we dreamed of being farmers. Back then, we didn’t really understand the scale of the industry that all comes together to support the production of our world’s food and fiber.

FFA has helped prepare so many of us for this mission that is agriculture. FFA taught me so much more than parliamentary procedure and welding. Today I am honored to have a number of FFA alums work with me at Beck Ag. They bring the experienced talent that started when they put on the jacket. Consistently, FFA members bring with them:

  • A passion for agriculture and learning
  • A drive to deliver excellence in all they do
  • A loyalty to the industry, its mission and purpose
  • A commitment to the next generation; to the future

I’m proud to have worn the jacket, and to work in an organization where there are many more jackets in boxes, possibly a few that have been taken out this week and tried on.

I’m also thrilled that here in northeast Nebraska, where Beck Ag has a small office that some of our team works out of, we have a new FFA chapter at our local high school. After years of preparation and prayers, the Ag Ed program is thriving in its first year. I’m grateful that another generation of local kids will someday pull their dusty jackets out and smile at the memories and lessons it taught. Because as I’ve learned, you might outgrow the jacket, but you never outgrow the experience.

 


Jay Kelley Named New Beck Ag President and Investor

WAYNE, NEBRASKA – Beck Ag, Inc., a company dedicated to providing measurable Go-To-Market solutions for agriculture companies and organizations, has named Jay Kelley as its new president. Kelley has also assumed an equity position in Beck Ag and has been appointed to the company’s board of directors. Kelley’s new leadership positions are effective immediately. Read More >


Beck Ag Promotes Spaan and Phillips

WAYNE, NEBRASKA – Beck Ag, Inc., a company dedicated to providing measurable Go-To-Market solutions for agriculture companies and organizations is expanding its new business acquisition efforts and its market intelligence competency through the promotion of Kari Spaan to vice president of business development, and Monica Phillips to vice president of strategic intelligence. Read More >


Mindy Oberly, Sonny Dasari Join Beck Ag

Beck Ag, Inc., a company dedicated to providing measurable Go-To-Market solutions for agriculture companies and organizations, is expanding its client solutions and optimization teams with the hiring of Melinda Oberly and Srikanth (Sonny) Dasari. Read More >


Just-In-Time Learning

Are you providing the learning solutions and opportunities when and where it’s needed?

 
With continuous changes in our industry it is imperative that our teams continue to have the appropriate knowledge, training and skills. Keeping not only your sales team, but ultimately your customers, armed with the most up-to-date knowledge, when and where they need it can be challenging.
Read More >


Knowing Your Customer

Do you know the field, herd, or operation better than the farmer or producer?

 

Are customers viewed as resources to be “harvested” or are they people looking for certain kinds of interactions and relationships?

It’s happening. With today’s information and technology, we are getting to know the fields better than we know the farmer, the animals better than the producer and the data just keeps coming in.
Read More >