Bill Preller

Business and Marketing Strategy Consultant

Embrace the power — and responsibility — of big data

Agrimarketers, get ready to become more powerful than ever. Yes, we’re talking about big data. In fact, ag has one of the fastest-growing and largest potential data sets. Soon millions of machines will be at work in the industry collecting and communicating data (“the Internet of Things”). Technology exists to acquire data right down to an individual plant in the field.

As embracing big data — and all it entails — becomes a competitive necessity within ag, you’ll have powers your forefathers only dreamed about.

I’m talking about the power to redefine the game by carving out a competitive advantage that’s extremely difficult to replicate. Power to correct for environmental and management challenges so you have unprecedented control over yield. Power to stop guessing and make more-informed decisions — with every decision.

Yes, agrimarketers. It’s the dawn of a new era. But, with great power comes great responsibilit(ies).

Responsibility to enhance customer intimacy
No longer will broad market segments be enough to grow market share. You’ll need to not only know your customers on an individual level but also know the facets of their operation. The hard truth is: If you don’t understand your customers intimately, you’ll be reduced to simply a distributor of things.

Responsibility to work harder for market share
Fleeting are the days when you could grow market share by targeting a market segment. It won’t be enough to have overarching qualitative insights about a few thousand producers — you’re going to need to have quantitative data about each one’s operation. Essentially every relevant data point, be that plant, animal or machine, becomes a “customer” in its own right — a customer you must know and know well.

So if you have 50,000 customer data points, growing market share just became 50,000 times harder.

Responsibility to make data-based decisions
Qualitative research will still be important to guide what you communicate, but you’ll need the quantitative to tell you why you’re communicating. With big data in your back pocket, you’ll be marrying the art and science that is marketing more closely than ever before.

Responsibility to act on your data-based insights insightfully
With knowledge of your customers’ wants, needs, likes and behaviors, you’ll have the power to serve that customer more efficiently and effectively. But your data is only as good as your abilities to execute against it. If you can’t capitalize on the opportunities it creates, what’s the point?

The kicker is: The true power of big data comes not from looking at individual data sets but by bringing multiple data sets together. One of the best examples of how powerful this can be is the invention of store credit cards — and their abilities to provide retailers with information not only on what customers are buying but on how much they’re spending, too. Combining these two data sets makes retailers infinitely smarter about the shopping behaviors of their customers. They are also much more powerful marketers than when they had only store loyalty card data and the credit card companies had the purchasing data.

At the end of the day, it’s about getting as much data as you can and doing something intelligent with it. The ag big data arms race has already begun, and industry heavyweights are starting to turn a profit with their efforts. But there is still time to strengthen your engagements in the data arena. Plenty of opportunities still exist.

So, if nothing else, start building those databases now. Focus on marketing tactics that will help you grow them. Think lead generation programs and marketing automation. And make sure the data your organization does have is getting shared with the marketing team.

The era of true “customer intimacy” is upon us. So the question is: How will you put information into action?

Industry: Agriculture

Topic: Marketing, Metrics

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