Laura Evers, Senior Account Manager, Rooster Strategic Solutions

FarmOp Capital, an ag lending service started in 2017, is based on a cutting-edge premise: When it comes to structuring a loan, a grower’s production history is just as important as the land and equipment they own and can offer as collateral. FOC’s operating loans are based on future crop production and proven track records, as well as crop insurance. This allows farmers with lighter balance sheets – for instance, growers who rent more than they own – to get the capital they need to purchase inputs and stay competitive. It’s a completely new and innovative approach.

So, when FOC asked Rooster to help increase awareness of their offerings and drive prospects to to learn more, we looked first at the latest, state-of-the-art media options. But after a careful analysis by our media team, we landed on a media mix that’s led by one of the oldest, proudest mediums available: Ag Radio. Because FarmOp Capital was gracious enough to let us tell their story, the results may cause other ag marketing groups to reevaluate their media plans.

It’s all about the reach. As a new entrant in the world of ag financing, FOC wanted to get the word out to a large population of growers in more than 15 states. Ag Radio delivers. With an unlimited budget and a basic awareness of “boomer stations” like WGN, Brownfield, or the Iowa Agribusiness Network, it’s easy to saturate individual states or even multi-state regions.

But few if any ag companies have “unlimited budgets,” which is why many marketers look elsewhere for their messaging. These marketers are missing a critical point. With a little research, Ag Radio offers hyper-targeting. For instance, NAFB offers a free reach-and-frequency model that lets you choose specific counties and gives you the quarter-hour ratings, cum ratings, and share that you can use to build a customized schedule. At Rooster, we use a proprietary tool that takes this several levels deeper, allowing us to pick and choose single stations at the county level to reach the largest pool of potential targets in the most cost-effective manner.

It’s all about the frequency. Radio, more than any other medium, builds frequency the fastest. Growers tune in to various market reports, weather, and analysis programs throughout the day, and several models have been built to let you input the number of spots that you want to purchase that will give you the reach and frequency you desire. Taking this one step further, we recommended blitzing the stations on two or three days as opposed to a 5-day schedule to limit costs while increasing frequency.

It’s all about timing. March is the busiest month for credit applications, so we wanted our messaging consolidated in the first quarter. Print comes out once per month on average; digital is good, but farmers only look online once or twice per day on average, and you typically don’t know when. But we know that farmers are listening to the Big Show at noon on WHO. This more than justified the actual spend to reach the right prospects at the perfect time.

But it’s really about the personality. Every year, polls on consumers across all walks of life show a deteriorating level of trust with the media. Except for farm broadcasters, that is. They’re still considered a trusted source, and in some areas, are treated like rock stars! By choosing live-read as opposed to pre-produced spots, you can take advantage of this phenomenon. There’s an implied endorsement of your product when the broadcaster mentions it during the program, and that endorsement carries an oversized amount of influence. We used the local broadcasters at each of the different stations; this meant cutting dozens of different spots but leveraging the power of each broadcaster more than compensated for the extra effort.

And the hits, they keep on coming! The results of the campaign included a 300-plus-percent increase in web traffic to their website, which was the primary goal. Granted, ag radio wasn’t the only medium we used, but it was the one we used the most, and the results speak for themselves – customers were calling FOC and telling them they were responding to the radio spots.

It wasn’t easy, and we understand that you need to do a certain amount of due diligence to make it work. Many agencies and partners aren’t willing or able to put in this kind of effort; doing “what we’ve always done” or chasing the newest and shiniest option is a lot easier, although it rarely tends to deliver the results that companies hope to achieve.

If you have any questions about Ag Radio, or are interested in reviewing your company’s media mix to look for better and more affordable ways to reach your target audience, I’d love to have a conversation.