Monday, March 20, 2017

We Love Ag, Yes We Do

If you like to eat, prefer to wear clothes and drive a vehicle, you’re a fan of American agriculture—whether you know it or not. Well, this is the week to join the rest of the nation in making your fond feelings known. March 21 is National Ag Day, falling right in the middle of National Ag Week, March 19-25.

First celebrated in 1973, National Ag Day is about recognizing, and celebrating, the contribution of agriculture to our everyday lives. Every year, ag producers, agricultural associations, corporations, universities, government agencies and communities across America join together to highlight the importance of agriculture to our nation and the world.

The National Ag Day program encourages every American to:

  • Understand how food and fiber products are produced.
  • Value the essential role of agriculture in maintaining a strong economy.
  • Appreciate the role agriculture plays in providing safe, abundant and affordable products.

VistaComm is proud to be a part of the agricultural community and to have the privilege of working with so many companies directly involved in the production of food, fiber and renewable energy.

Throughout the week, we'll be sharing a few fun numbers on our Facebook page that help illustrate the diversity, and importance, of the American ag industry. Like our page to follow along!

Learn More Here: We Love Ag, Yes We Do


We Love Ag, Yes We Do posted first on http://vistacomm.blogspot.com/

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Nine Ideas to Promote Your Business and Increase C-Store Traffic

Pardon me for stating the obvious, but convince your pay-at-the-pump customers to enter your store and income will increase. Are you inviting people in?

According to a recent study, customers who paid for gas and drove away told researchers they didn’t need anything inside. You know better, of course, because everybody needs something, and in a small town your store is often the only resource.

So here are six notions for bringing customers indoors and three ways you might encourage a connection in the community’s you serve.

  • What’s not to like? Take a hint from Little Orphan Annie in A Christmas Story and give your Facebook supporters a special reward for loyalty. How about first notice of upcoming sales? A Facebook loyalty club doesn’t stop you from promoting your sale to all customers, but it reinforces a relationship with those who show you a little love.
  • The 360-degree fill. Offer something tasty with a fill-up, like a cookie or a doughnut. Naturally, the customer must come inside to claim that sweet reward and, in general, doughnuts go down better with something to drink. According to a 2015 CSP-FARE State of Foodservice study, retailers believe breakfast items offer the most potential sales growth.
  • It’s easy to get pumped. Chain outlets advertise at the pump. Do the same thing, but in a hometown way. Sharing a localized message could be very impactful with local customers. Just be sure to update your posters often and never leave your signs out in the rain. (What’s your message? See suggestions 4 and 5.)
  • Tell ‘em what’s new. Your marketing plan undoubtedly includes introducing new items in your product mix from time to time. But do you alert customers? Tout a new coffee flavor or anything. “Have you tried our new ____?” (Just because it’s an old tactic doesn’t mean it’s wrong!)
  • And while you’re at it…any improvement deserves a shout-out. “Introducing our new coffee-making system!” “Compliment us on our slushy maker today and your 16-ounce cup is free!” “Now offering fresh fruit! Enjoy a half-price banana with your donut today!”
  • Cultivate core co-op members. During planting season or harvest, put your lunch menu in high gear by taking phone orders for sandwiches. Post your menu and daily specials online, or send them via email and/or text to make it easier for the busy farmers. Also consider adding something extra for farmers, their families and employees. “Free apples for busy farmers today!”
  • Put a face on your support of local events. A sign in the window? Meh, anybody can do that. Help man a booth (always in your logo shirts). Don’t just donate water bottles for a 5K; be there yourself to greet finishers.
  • Serve up commitment. Enlarge on your nominal financial support of youth projects. When there’s a push underway for new uniforms or equipment, encourage customers to match your gift. Tell them you’ll share a percentage of pizza or sandwich sales.
  • What would employees do? Match employees’ personal interests and involvement to your support of local events. If John plans to attend the local car show on his own, pay him the hour or two he’ll spend directing entrants to parking spots. (And again, I say, John ought to wear something that identifies him as your proud employee). The same goes for the 4-H fair or any exciting thing happening in your town.

There are obviously many other ideas you can use to drive traffic into your c-store. Whether you are using point-of-sale promotions at the pump, digital marketing, public relations or direct mail, all can be effective with the right messaging and promotion. Not all promotions are guaranteed to work 100%, but until you’ve tried everything you (and I) can think of, you don’t know. VistaComm has helped cooperatives and local c-store retailers market to their communities for over 20 years. Put our experienced staff to work for you to help drive traffic into your business.

Contact us today

Article Source Here: Nine Ideas to Promote Your Business and Increase C-Store Traffic


Nine Ideas to Promote Your Business and Increase C-Store Traffic posted first on http://vistacomm.blogspot.com/

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Trusted Advisor—Communicating Value Through Brand Storytelling

While everyone wants to hold the coveted title of the farmer’s “trusted advisor,” the rapid expansion of technology into the world of agriculture is forcing a change from “advisor” to “advisors.” Most agree that precision technology, its application to equipment and inputs, and the data generated by the IoT is where the action will be for the foreseeable future.

Consequently, the sheer volume of knowable information through which producers must now sort virtually guarantees they will need to work with a team of experts—each functioning in a specific role—to successfully run their business.

agronomist advisorKnowing what particular role (or roles) you play in the precision adoption and application process, and aggressively pursuing the knowledge and skilled staff to achieve an edge in your niche, will likely determine future success. Communicating that role through brand storytelling is critical in ensuring your customers and prospects know the value you bring to their operation.

In a recent article in Precision Ag Professional magazine, Darren Goebel, Director of Global Commercial Crop Care for AGCO, outlined some of the roles that various trusted advisors could best serve.

Retailers/Cooperatives. “As precision agriculture evolves, the ag retailer could become the major driving force in this segment. Because retailers have access to crop protection products, seed, fertilizer, and application equipment, they may be in the best place to provide start to finish service. In other words, to ‘just make it work.’”

Consultants. “Their value proposition remains as an unbiased provider of information. I believe consultants can bring together equipment providers, agronomic insights, and the best seed and crop protection options for growers. Consultants may be able to specialize in precision agriculture by carving out an important niche in this space.”

partnering with farmersEquipment dealers. “I believe the equipment companies and dealers that are most successful in the precision agriculture space will be the ones that can provide the best service. Uptime is extremely important to growers, especially with the pressure to have timely planting, fertilizing, and pest control. Dealers that have precision agriculture departments that proactively work with ag retailers, consultants, and growers will be held in high regard among farmers, leading to higher sales. It will likely be difficult for equipment dealers to provide the same quality of prescriptions and agronomic advice as ag retailers, consultants, and seed dealers without significant investment in people resources.”

Seed dealers. “Seed dealers have more information about genetics than any of their cohorts, and they have the information much earlier in the hybrid’s or variety’s lifecycle than anyone else. As variable-rate, multi-hybrid, and multi-variety become the norm, the seed dealer will play a more and more important role in data-driven decision-making to ensure accurate placement by soil texture, drainage class, and productivity level.”

So, what’s your strength?

Where do you fit into the picture? Are you strong in one of the niches above, several…or none? What you have done as a business to embrace the precision revolution, strengthen your position in your marketing footprint and evolve with technology will likely determine your success as the next generation transitions into leadership roles on the farm.

Feeling as comfortable as possible with your position? Great. There’s one more consideration. Do your current and potential customers know what you have to offer, what sets you apart, how good you are and, most importantly, how you can solve their problems? This is all a part of the brand story you need to tell.

Use brand storytelling to reach farmers

This is the point at which technical expertise and strong communication must mesh. How are you letting your customer know when you have a new product, service or technical expert to offer? Are you using the appropriate channels to connect with all segments of your audience?

According to a recent study* of agricultural producers, farmers who are learning about a new product or farming technique tend to turn first to university and extension advisers. When the time comes to purchase that product or adopt that technique, they attach more trust to ag retailers and dealers. Overall, the top influencer in a producer’s decision-making process was their agronomist, followed closely by their retailer or dealer.

In this age of instant connections, information is the new capital. Earn—or cement—your status as trusted advisors by providing the actionable knowledge ag producers are looking for to inform their decisions. We can help you with the what, when and how.

Contact us today

*“Future of Communications Audience Insights Study,” Bader Rutter

Originally Published Here: Trusted Advisor—Communicating Value Through Brand Storytelling


Trusted Advisor—Communicating Value Through Brand Storytelling posted first on http://vistacomm.blogspot.com/

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Merge Ahead: Using Community Outreach to Build Customer Loyalty

Once the merger vote passes, you’re now one big cooperative. And that’s when the real work begins: new signs, new licenses, consolidated billing and the list goes on. But along with those formalities, it’s important to pay attention to the human side of the merger during your communication to maintain and build customer loyalty through community outreach.


The number of co-ops in Kansas has fallen from 350 in the 1950s to approximately 80.1
The number of co-ops in Oklahoma has fallen from 243 in 1980 to only 50.1

How do you unite all of your locations under your merged co-op? It’s more than just putting a new logo on elevators or agronomy vehicles. Farmers in outlying locations need to feel connected to the newly merged co-op.

One thing is for certain: Your farmer-patrons in new locations will keep a watchful eye to see how the changes will benefit—or hurt—them and their local community.

Connecting with all locations through community outreach

Community involvement has always been a cornerstone of the farm cooperative model. And now, with the trend toward fewer large cooperatives serving more communities, it’s important to establish a spirit of goodwill that stretches across your entire service area. Ensure that post-merger communication showcases your dedication to community involvement throughout the area.

Following are some ideas for community involvement. You’re probably doing some of these already. Just think in terms of how you can extend community outreach activities to include locations that are new to your merged cooperative to build loyalty among those communities and co-op members.

  • Start a special promotion at c-stores. For example, “1% Wednesday.” Your cooperative donates 1% of the location’s gross sales on a specific Wednesday of each month to benefit a nonprofit organizations selected by the local co-op members. The beneficiary could rotate each month to include school organizations, food banks and other specific local needs.
  • Host get-to-know-us lunches at locations. Invite area farmers to meet the people they may interact with from the headquarters, such as management, accounting, agronomy, grain marketing and energy staff members.
  • Establish school education programs focusing on items such as farm safety or grain marketing.
  • Support local FFA and other student organizations in all area high schools.
  • Make scholarships available to all high school students throughout your trade area.
  • Consider sponsorships of local events such as parades, festivals and sports events.
  • Sponsor adopt-a-highway programs across your trade area.

Rural Community Parade and Cookout

As the trend toward mergers continues, connecting with farmers across a broad trade area will become a natural part of operations … whether your cooperative covers two counties or five counties … has 500 members or 5,000.

By starting as soon as possible after the merger, you can set the groundwork for positive communication and acceptance throughout your cooperative.


Want to talk with someone who can help you with all the communication details of a merger?
That’s VistaComm.

Contact us today

 

Learn More Here: Merge Ahead: Using Community Outreach to Build Customer Loyalty


Merge Ahead: Using Community Outreach to Build Customer Loyalty posted first on http://vistacomm.blogspot.com/