What farmers get for free

Driving retail through the post
If direct marketing has ever gained legendary status, it was with a campaign for a bank in New Zealand that mailed eight-foot-long fenceposts to farmers considered potential customers.

Driving retail through the post

If direct marketing has ever gained legendary status, it was with a campaign for a bank in New Zealand that mailed eight-foot-long fenceposts to farmers considered potential customers. The bank quickly jumped from zero to major market share. Winnipeg’s M2 Communications was also thinking big when it mailed broom heads to 500 of the biggest farmers in Manitoba for Winnipeg-based Cargill in the summer of 2000. The broom, emblazoned with the Cargill logo and a message to ‘Sweep your grain our way,’ was 15 inches long and designed for use in a shop or the back of a grain truck. Farmers had to visit a Cargill retail outlet to pick up the handle for their broom. The program got 97% return during an extremely competitive time.

Building loyalty

AdFarm in Calgary runs a bundled loyalty program for apple growers called the Big Apple. Apple growers who purchase Arvesta’s Maestro fungicide, Bayer CropScience’s Admire or Guthion pesticides, or any of five chemical products from Dow AgroSciences can earn points toward a rewards catalogue. Customers earn points towards gift certificates for Chapters and People’s Jewelers or a trip to Ireland.

Illustrating the point

Brand advertising for a herbicide called Converge from Toronto-based Bayer CropScience Canada started in January this year. When it came time to use the product this summer, 2000 corn growers in Ontario and Quebec received direct mail informing them about an incentive program. Three hundred POP posters also let corn growers know that by purchasing 50 acres worth of Converge, they could get a free, rechargeable Black & Decker pivot driver (that is, an electric screwdriver). Len Kahn, head of AdFarm in Guelph, Ont., explains that the giveaway illustrated the product’s promise: Converge is a rechargeable herbicide that restarts each time it rains. The program continues into December, and to date has attained a 20% to 25% uptake. A pivot driver, Kahn points out, is useful on a farm, but also in the house, where people will see it.

Tapping farmer pride

In June this year, M2 Communications launched a photo contest for Advanta Seeds, a company that researches and develops canola, corn and sunflower seed technology in Winnipeg. Three hundred agriculture retailers put up the 18′ x 24′ poster – actually a mosaic made up of 1000 individual photos. Retailers were also given envelopes addressed to Manitoba Mosaic that farmers could use to mail in photos of their sunflower fields. The winning photographer won a quarter section (160 acres) worth of Advanta sunflower seeds to plant the next year (the cash value is about $4000 or $5000). For the rest of the photographers, a new poster is being sent to the same retailers, along with an Advanta-labeled magnifying glass. Farmers will be able to find their own photos making up a mosaic of a sunflower field until Christmas. Over 800 photos were submitted throughout the contest. Doug Martin, president of M2, attributes the high success rate to ‘farmer pride.’

Making it useful

Grain elevator operators in the prairies work in a competitive environment and Agricorp United, formerly United Grain Growers, realized they would have a competitive edge if it could find out how much grain farmers would bring to market. For starters, the company sent sales reps out to collect grain samples and ask farmers to volunteer information about their grain inventories. However, by the time Agricorp had the database up, the information was already out of date. Agricorp asked M2 to come up with a premium that would convince farmers to call in with updated information. The program was called ‘It’s Your Call’ to remind farmers that they could take their grain where they wanted, but also to invite them to phone up Agricorp. The premium was a free 10-minute long-distance calling card, a handy item for people who make a lot of long distance calls. M2 gave 20,000 phone cards away. In addition to boosting Agricorp’s database, the cards allowed M2 to place 15-second commercial messages at the beginning of each call. With an average three calls per card, that made about 60,000 opportunities to speak directly into the ears of the customer.