Rural Commentary

Dumb Farmers? How rural marketing can improve

Why do we see so many farmer communications that “dumb farmers down”.

Packs of drench with wings, “yeah gidday” in a deep drawl, “get in behind Blue”, scripting stating the obvious, cartoons and ad’s that are technically incorrect – those farmers I have spoken to about this find it frustrating.

I have previously drawn the parallel that if you want to understand another culture, say the Chinese, you need to live there for 12 years. Helpful though it may be, one visit and a bit of research doesn’t cut it.

I did a quick calculation several years ago and found that farmers were the most advertised to group in NZ. So at a time when share of voice is so hard to get, we’ve got to make sure we get it right. You certainly wouldn’t advertise a BMW to a CEO the way many advertise to farmers. I have a farming background and have at times taken a bit of a toweling from friends for how the industry treats them. And fair enough too.

To stereotype farmers is easy to do but there’s something almost indefinable that we often miss and in many ways it’s cultural which brings me back to the point I made above about understanding the Chinese. Simply, without a degree of immersion over a period of time you won’t know if you’ve crossed that line between humour and taking the mick, communicating plainly and treating them like 5 year olds, between getting it right versus realizing that farmers don’t go around their paddocks doing wheelies. And not every farmer has a deep gravely voice.

Farming has moved on markedly in recent decades and we can’t afford to “think” we understand, we “must” understand. Whilst research etc is often vital to finding the nugget of truth, it’s the “rub” that we have that determines the tone and therefore the degree of acceptance our communications receive.








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