Farmer Panel Discussion: Understanding Farmers’ Needs and Expectations

Wednesday, Feb. 14   |   8:45 – 9:45 a.m.

Conference attendees have the invaluable opportunity to tap into the minds of their customers at the Understanding Farmers’ Needs and Expectations panel discussion.

Moderated by Markus Weber, president of LandView Drones and winner of the 2017 CAAR Conference Innovation Showdown, this discussion offers an insightful and engaging glimpse into the relationship between farmer and retailer, from the farmer’s perspective. The panel will include four Canadian farmers, each bringing their own ideas and opinions to the conversation.

According to Weber, when it comes to understanding the varied and changing needs of farmers, there’s no better source of information than farmers themselves.

“It is crucial that you understand where your customer is coming from and how to meet their expectations,” says Weber. “Attending this panel, rather than just discussing with your own customers, gives you a diversity of views from different kinds of farmers.”

Weber notes that there is also diversity in the geography and size of the panelists’ operations. “Some farm tens of thousands of acres and some thousands of acres. Some have multiple retailers, and some prefer to deal with one or two,” he says.

“They will voice their opinions on where they think the industry should be going, and tell some real-life stories of when they were really happy with a retailer, or when a retailer left something on the table and didn’t meet all of their needs.”

Weber says the discussion will also cover topics like the balance between service and price, and how important two-way loyalty is to each farmer.

Joining Weber on stage will be Thomas Benson from Raymore, Sask.; Ian McKillop
of Argyle Farms in Dutton, Ont.; Lane Stockbrugger, who farms in Leroy, Sask.; and southern-Alberta farmer, Kevin Serfas.

Diverse and Evolving Needs

Serfas, one of the four farmer-panelists, agrees that retailers hearing farmers’ viewpoints is essential. “A retailer’s key audience is the farmer. If they’re not in touch with what the farmer’s wants and needs are, then they are out of touch with their market,” he says.

Serfas hopes that retailers come away from the one-hour panel discussion with a better understanding of their customers.

“From a business standpoint, farming is always changing. Farmers are always trying to learn. I think retailers need to match their stride, or even be one step ahead,” he says. “In any business, you need to identify the challenges your customer is facing and figure out how to adapt to their needs and wants.”

Serfas says the key to balancing the needs of many different clients is getting to know each client as an individual. He says some farmers, like himself, prefer to contact their retailer when they have a specific question, but many older farmers prefer retailers to proactively reach out to them.

“There’s a very wide scope of customers, and learning how to take care of all of them is by no means easy, but if you don’t learn how to take care of all of them, you will lose a portion of them,” he adds.

Don’t miss the opportunity to learn more about what farmers need and expect from you, the retailer, at this candid panel discussion.

Possibility Thinking

Thursday, Feb. 15   |   8:30 – 9:30 a.m.

When Candace Hill and Isaac LeClair take the stage at the 2018 CAAR Conference, they hope to inspire retailers to transform their marketing mindset and create memorable customer experiences.

“Possibility Thinking is about evolving your mindset to stand out and be different – and to really start challenging yourself to take an idea and use it to create an opportunity,” say Hill, manager at Agriculture More Than Ever.

“We hope to inspire retailers to consider how shifting their mindset, when it comes to marketing and branding, can have benefits to their companies and themselves,” she says.

This discussion promises to be fun, engaging and full of relevant information for anyone already using social media, still on the fence, or ready to take the leap.

“We’ll share some of our own experience, because Agriculture More Than Ever has quite a significant social media presence across different channels,” says Hill. “We hope this will resonate with retailers. Maybe they’ll make a decision to enter into the world of social media or change the way they’re already using social media to market themselves and their business.”

According to LeClair, Agriculture More Than Ever program manager, if retailers are satisfied with their level of success, that doesn’t mean there’s no value in social media. “If things are working well for them, we’ll show how everything can be amplified if it is put on social media,” he says.

LeClair calls this the “snowball effect” – the way something seemingly small, if it reaches enough people, can turn into something big. “If a good interaction is put on social media, multiple people can share in the experience instead of just one individual,” he says. “Using social media is a way to expand your brand equity and your brand loyalty.”

Sharing Practical Ideas

In addition to challenging the marketing mindset, Hill and LeClair will share tips to help retailers carve out time for social media and determine which platforms best suit their business objectives.

“It’s a matter of finding the sweet spot for your retail business, then building from there, rather than trying to start big and then feeling that you don’t have time. That’s not setting yourself up for success,” says Hill, who promises to show practical ideas and examples from both ag and non-ag businesses that are using social media to make a big impact with their customers.

“We want to make sure the ideas we’re sharing are practical things that the retailer might consider implementing,” she says. “It’s about making the experience not about you as a retailer, or about your products and services, but about the customer,” she says.


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