It doesn’t matter much if you’re in Canada or the US, farm trade shows are one of the best ways for businesses in our industry to get the message out. It’s easy and efficient. You can see the latest and greatest in equipment, seed, chemical, fertilizer and micronutrients, and all kinds of tools and gadgets for the farm.

Most of you go with a keen focus on finding new and better ways to produce your crop and lower your production costs. You want more crop for every dollar you invest. I get it.

But, where is the marketing?

At most farm shows, there’s something missing, and it’s the lack of good tools and resources for becoming better marketers. What did you see at the last farm show you attended?

Maybe a few advisors who hoped to secure new clients or have you subscribe to their newsletters.

Probably a few banks looking to secure new clients for loans, mortgages, or lines of credit.

Likely a few insurance companies hoping to sell you a policy for hail or crop insurance.

Let’s face it. These shows are focused on agronomy and iron and the addition of a “marketing” session in their schedule is often the least well attended at the event. However, I am going to once again give a huge shout out to our friends over at FarmLink who revived the Grain World conference and did in fact create events focused on becoming a better grain marketer. But this event is small relative to the big events we all attend throughout the season.

And so, I’m asking why?

Here in Canada we might argue that we had the CWB for so long that there was less need to become an expert marketer. But, for one thing, the CWB is gone so we have to get past that mindset, and for another, the US has always been an open market and they are also short on events that turn you all into expert grain marketers.

My theory is that you all love agronomy and iron. And why wouldn’t you. It’s easy to see the results you get from investments in both. Better looking fields, higher yields, more efficiency in the field, better working conditions. These are also things you talk to other farmers about. You compare notes on equipment, seed varieties, fertilizer rates, and inputs. This stuff is all way more sexy than a spreadsheet.

By comparison, marketing might feel like a bit of a burden. You might be less confident in your knowledge and you don’t have the same benchmarks to measure success like you do for other aspects of your farm. It’s not easy to definitively say “I just got the best deal possible on my grain.” Who says it’s the best deal possible? You might track your own marketing decisions and outcomes, but who and what do you compare it too? Your neighbour? Federal data? For some of our clients, they’re starting to use the information they receive on CXN360 for building benchmarks. They might not jump on all of the grain offers they see, but they take note of them so they know what the market is doing. It’s helps them better understand what a good deal looks like when they’re ready to sell.

How do you become a better marketer?

So, you grow the best crop ever at the lowest cost per bushel ever, but then what? Why don’t you spend more time continuing the ‘best ever’ theme and get the best ever deal for it. Close the loop on your expertise. You’re a great producer and you keep getting better each year. But you also need to be a great marketer to make the most of your farming business.

Maybe we need more emphasis on marketing at the big trade shows we have now. Will the day come where we have large events focused on helping you be a better marketer? I’m not sure. Is it enough of a priority for you to give up a day to attend? Even if there wasn’t any agronomy or iron there?

We’d love to hear what you think. What should marketing events look like? Do you think we need them at all? What would it take to get you to attend?