Understanding the Rural American Mindset

Understanding the Rural American Mindset Tim Barnes OUTdrive

Accountability, Preparation and Dedication

OUTdrive Episode 28 with Tim Barnes

In this episode of OUTdrive, Cliff visits with Tim Barnes, a former NFL player who returned to his roots to live, work and play in rural Missouri. A great example of a hardworking and dedicated small town guy, Tim lived out the childhood dreams of many, playing football at the University of Missouri before playing professionally for the St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams and San Francisco 49ers.

After his time in the NFL, Tim returned to his roots near his hometown and is currently running the family farm while raising his family and coaching high school football. Cliff and Tim discuss strategies for brands to effectively reach a rural American audience. They also dive into the importance of accountability, the value of preparation, the rewards of dedication and how rural roots run deep, no matter the location. Keep reading for more insights from their conversation.

Understanding Your Audience

Regardless of your industry, it is important to truly understand your audience to build mutually-beneficial relationships with them. This involves listening carefully, asking questions and doing research to gain valuable insight into their mindset to identify how you can best meet their needs. It’s important to do your homework and be prepared. For Tim, preparation for success has transitioned from watching game films to reading educational articles about innovative new agriculture products and best practices.

One way that brands meet Tim’s needs as a farmer is by providing information and resources for topics he is interested in. During their conversation, he uses rotational grazing as an example. “I read articles quite a bit and ask ‘How is this going to help me?’ I do a lot of research on rotational grazing,” says Tim. “I don’t have the exact farm setup built for that, but I want to know how I can utilize it to the best of my abilities because that’s going to help keep the ground healthy.”

Tim went on to share more insight into his perspective. “Farming is really a business and I think that’s something that some people really don’t understand. Just because you’re a farmer doesn’t mean you’re only one thing,” says Tim. “You’ve got to be a businessman, a mechanic, be able to figure out things on the fly and halfway be a weatherman.”

Understanding where your audience spends their time and meeting them where they are comfortable is another effective way to engage your audience. Tim listens to local radio stations each morning for their agriculture programs, but the best way to reach others may be through different platforms at different times of the day.

Tim shares, “I think it’s important to find out where people are spending a lot of their time. For a lot of people, it is on Facebook and Twitter or Instagram. There are also a lot of channels on YouTube, where farmers are getting information and sharing the stories of their everyday lives.”

Accountability and Dedication

There’s no question, you cannot get to the NFL without a tremendous level of accountability and dedication. Both were instilled in Tim at a young age, growing up on his family’s farm caring for his family’s land and livestock. We’ve heard from many OUTdrive guests, some of the key benefits of living and doing business in rural America are these core values.
Tim shares his thoughts saying, “One of the biggest things that I’ve learned, especially after playing at the level I played, is accountability. You find out real quick how some people react to accountability, how some shy away from it and how others will step up immediately.”

Tim went on to say, “Everyone messes up. It’s taking the accountability and saying, ‘Yes, I did mess up. But I’m going to make sure it doesn’t happen again.’ And that’s the important part. In football, you can have ten guys doing their job, and if one guy doesn’t, you could have a busted play.”

Tim goes on to talk about his dedication to his team and sport saying, “Whether it’s during the season or not, that’s staying in shape, getting stronger, and doing everything to make sure you’re eating right, making sure that you can be the best and you’re not going to get hurt and let your teammates down. Then while you’re playing, it’s knowing what you’re doing, being serious about it and being able to perform. If you do mess up, take accountability for it.”

There are a lot of principles in Tim’s words applicable to many areas of business and life. Work hard and do what is right and success often follows.

Educating and Advocating

Reaching farmers through industry-specific channels can prove challenging, but an even bigger challenge can be reaching the public and end users that are not directly seeking information about farming and agriculture. In these situations, it becomes even more important to meet people where they are. Tim uses the Missouri State Fair as an example. Although it was forced to pivot to a livestock show this past year due to COVID, the state fair provides the opportunity to educate hundreds of thousands of people about farming and agriculture and where their food and consumer products come from when they are there in person, interested in learning and experiencing new things.

Tim explains that farmers such as himself, and brands must work together to educate others. Tim shares, “I think it’s important that people know what’s happening with their food, and why things are important. Everyone in an agricultural background is trying to do what’s best for their ground and livestock because it’s important to them like it is to me.”

Cliff summarizes this idea perfectly, saying, “Brands really need to be educating, helping farmers understand how to do what they do better, and helping the consumer understand where their food comes from and why you’re doing what you need to do.”

Tim and an army of other farmers and ranchers are passionate about what they do, working hard to provide for their families, communities and country each day. Brands that help their audience overcome the challenges they face everyday will position themselves for success–whether that help comes in the form of educational content and resources, innovative products or programs or other forms of support.

As a brand, are you helping your audience overcome their challenges? Get additional insight from Cliff and Tim on these topics and learn more about the rural American mindset in this episode of OUTdrive. Check it out!