Meeting Your Audience Where They Are
OUTdrive Episode 16 with Dan Cassidy
In this episode of OUTdrive, Cliff visits with Dan Cassidy, Chief Administrative Officer of the Missouri Farm Bureau Federation and Affiliated Companies. A passionate advocate for U.S. agricultural policy, Dan understands the importance of building a strong marketing mix, meeting your audience where they are through integrated marketing and having some fun along the way. Read more for some key insights from their conversation.
Reaching Your Audience Where They Are
In his position, Dan communicates with thousands of individuals in rural America and has discovered that the most effective strategy is simple: meet them where they are. When asked how the Missouri Farm Bureau reaches its audience, Dan explains that it requires a strategic and integrated approach, including traditional methods, email, social media and more.
For some members, communicating the Farm Bureau story is very personal and unique. Dan gives an example, saying “We had a very close friend of many of us involved in Farm Bureau that was over 100. He still came to our annual meeting. He would tell stories about when he was a young child and getting around on horseback and so on.”
A personal connection is vital for telling a story. However, Dan understands the importance of reaching certain audiences through relevant channels, such as social media. He uses the younger generation as an example, saying “We have seven collegiate Farm Bureau chapters within Farm Bureau at colleges and universities around the state where these students are so up to date on communications and technology.”
With such a diverse audience, an integrated approach has proven the most successful for Dan’s team. He explains, “We think about things like newspapers and radio, and those more traditional ways to communicate, direct mail in some cases. We communicate by email as it can be quicker. It’s obviously less expensive. And so now, you know, to some degree, it’s texting. If we have a legislative alert, we can text that information to our members, and they can get a note into a congressman and Senator, very, very quickly. We can do videos. The pandemic has taught us that we can do zoom calls. We do conference calls, so we run the gamut. Obviously, we have a presence on social media–all the various forms of social media. We try to incorporate all of that. Because of our membership at this point, there is no one preferred method of communication. We have to be adept at trying to use them all.”
No matter the industry, an integrated approach is important in reaching a diverse audience. It takes a combination of proven strategies and tactics and a creative team working together to effectively communicate and deliver strong results.
Don’t Be Afraid to Try New Things
In a world that is constantly changing, it can be difficult to keep up with current trends. However, your brand can see a strong return on investment by strategically experimenting with new ideas and ways to reach your audience.
Dan and Cliff dive into the idea, with Dan using a recent example. “We constantly ask ourselves, who are we trying to reach and what’s the best medium to do that? Our staff is very creative. They put together a couple of videos that we put out on YouTube that were dealing with issues, one with the US, Mexico and Canada trade agreement. And holy smokes, we had over 100,000 views. It got to the White House and they had some fun with it. It got out there, it was a unique way of getting a message out and it worked. So we’re never afraid to try something new and, and some of them work and some of them are terrible failures, but we’re not afraid to try.”
Cliff drives the point home, saying, “I think that’s a great approach because you’re right, some work and some don’t, and they may work for somebody and not for somebody else. It’s just part of marketing and one of the reasons I love this career is that it is always changing.”
Video is one thing that is continuously evolving, as Cliff explains a bit more, “Of anything that stands out to me right now, video is just performing strong across every market segment. People are consuming their media through video. And so you trying that and having a little fun with it, that’s the way to get people to engage with your brand.”
If you’re unsure if you should be incorporating video in your strategies, check out our article on why brands should be using video marketing to target rural America.
As important as it is to incorporate new strategies and experiment with new things, Dan emphasizes the importance of knowing where your audience is and not leaving anyone behind. He explains, saying, “On one hand, we’ve got to be willing to try and utilize new technologies and our members do too. On the other hand, it’s kind of this philosophy–we’re not going to leave anybody behind. So we do our best to incorporate new technologies, but at the same time recognize that we want to be able to communicate with all of our members in one form or another.”
Are you experimenting with new digital trends while using proven and effective methods? How are you reaching all of your different audience segments? If you are interested in current digital trends, check out our last podcast on the subject: Digital Marketing in Rural America.
Adapt as Changes Happen
While it is ideal to experiment with new techniques and strategically implement new tactics, the best ideas sometimes present themselves unexpectedly. For example, Cliff compliments Dan on the Missouri Beef Producers directory that was put together as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dan explains the inspiration for the resource, saying “When this pandemic started, there was a concern about meat. So internally with Kelly Smith on our staff, we talked through this. We have so many beef farmers in the state of Missouri, that do a wonderful job raising excellent beef.”
Dan went on to say, “What a great opportunity to link up consumers with local producers or local farmers. And so Kelly took that idea and ran with it. We had a lot of help from the Missouri Department of Agriculture and from farmers throughout the state that called in and county Farm Bureau’s that called and said, here’s what we’ve got in our county. And all of a sudden, that directory came to light and it really has worked. We have over 500 businesses and processors located in the state of Missouri listed in that directory, and folks can find that on our website, and it has been a great tool.”
If you want to see the directory in action, check it out here. It is one example of an unplanned addition that has proven successful. When new tactics work, incorporate them into your strategic plan, something Dan’s team plans on doing. “We’re very hopeful that once people have an opportunity to get to know their local processors or local farmers, that even though there may be more meat on the shelves in the grocery store, that they won’t forget about those that are raised locally. Because obviously, we’re pretty high on our producers and think it’s a great opportunity to link those two together.”
If you find a new strategy that meets your audience’s needs and proves to be successful, even if it was unplanned, utilize it and keep the momentum going. At the end of the day, it’s about finding out what works for your audience, meeting their needs where they are and trying new things for continued growth.
Hear more about these topics and the unique traits of rural America, including values that shape how this audience lives, works and plays in this episode of OUTdrive.