Marketing products together can result in a program that’s bigger than the sum of its parts.

The concept of partnering with another organization within the agricultural value chain has created a whole new rulebook for how products can be sold.

There are numerous benefits for an organization in developing marketing partnerships. A partnership allows both companies to benefit from existing relationships, while also helping to provide additional benefits or performance to the consumer.

Collaborations often enable a business to explore customer channels that might not be available without a partnership and, in doing so, explore the potential of generating additional business. Companies that can relate their brand or product with an established brand or service that the customer is already comfortable with may generally see a quicker level of adoption and trust in that product.

Trusted Endorsements

“A large benefit of utilizing marketing linkage is that you essentially have your partners endorsing your brand,” says Brent Derkatch, director of operations and business development at Canterra Seeds. “The message can be more powerful to the customer when they hear about your company or your product from another party, rather than from you.”

While there can be a great reward in pursuing marketing partnerships, there is also a possibility of risk with any combined business initiative. A business must evaluate each opportunity and potential partner as they present themselves at a very detailed level, well in advance of taking on any brand partnership.

Building a joint marketing venture is not an overnight endeavor, and requires a considerable investment of time and energy into fostering relationships that will ultimately evolve into lucrative partnerships.

“You have to be prepared to ask a lot of questions,” says Derkatch. “You need to evaluate the opportunity from all angles and you need to have a broad perspective and ensure you are asking the right questions and not making critical decisions on a whim. This is why good communication is paramount to the success of any partnership venture.

Links that Make Sense

Collaborations tend to work best in scenarios where the desired partner is the next link in the value chain. Typically, the closer in the value chain two companies are, the more naturally a partnership can be formed.

“Finding and defining those areas where competing companies can both find value and opportunity in linking their products can be a challenge,” says Jennifer Ewankiw, crop protection marketing manager at Monsanto. “Ultimately we have to create additional value for farm customers by creating offers or recommendations that are effective, economical, and boost the farmer’s productivity.”

An organization’s scale and scope is not necessarily a factor when determining the proper time to start exploring a marketing partnership. From mid-sized businesses to large multinational corporations, there’s value to be found in working with others.

“There is much detailed work required to understand all of the other incentives, programs and discounts that each of the respective participants may already have in the marketplace,” says Derkatch. “You need to make sure that any new offer out there maintains value in a crowded market while also ensuring mutual profitability for all parties involved.”

Real Rewards for All Involved

In recent years, partnerships have become more common at Monsanto Canada, as the company strives to offer the best solutions for its farm customers and fulfill its mandate of supporting sustainable agricultural production. To better achieve this goal, Monsanto Canada routinely partners with other organizations in order to develop and advance new agricultural technologies.

Monsanto Canada currently has ongoing partnerships in a number of areas pertaining to crop protection products, seed treatments and co-licensing agreements on traits. 

“Although we have market-leading brands, they don’t always completely fit the specific need of the customer by themselves,” says Ewankiw. “As such, we may be required to recommend a combination of products to provide the best possible solution for our customer.”

In a partnership aimed at bringing advantages to both producers and supplier companies, Monsanto has partnered with NuFarm through the Real Farm Rewards loyalty program. The combined resources of the two companies working together provides their customers with an integrated solutions offering.

The Real Farm Rewards website outlines the rewards that producers can earn by purchasing products from Monsanto’s portfolio in addition to Nufarm’s suite of herbicides such as Conquer, BlackHawk, GoldWing and Valtera. The partnership aims to promote more sustainable chemistry solutions for producers by encouraging the use of a second effective mode of action along with glyphosate.

Monsanto believes that strategic partnering will continue to play an important role in the future of agri-retail, as producers increasingly rely on a combined retail and manufacturer infrastructure to plan, grow and market the best crop they can each year.

“It is rare that one single supplier can provide all of the solutions,” says Ewankiw. “So an integrated systems approach that considers crop rotation, pest control, fertility, environmental conditions and market opportunities will eventually become the norm.”

Canterra Seeds’ Custom Solutions

As an organization that focuses purely on seed, Canterra Seeds has found partnering with other organizations to be a successful strategy. They leverage the integration of their product offering and expertise with other organizations within the value chain in order to gain a wider market reach.

“Instead of trying to do everything on our own, we leverage our strengths with the expertise and services of others to bring a successful product or program to the marketplace,” says Derkatch.

Partnering with Syngenta was a logical choice for the seed company, says Derkatch.

“We need to have the confidence in that anything we put on or with our seed is not going to damage germination integrity or the seed’s vigour,” he says. “We found a synergy with Syngenta and hold a tremendous amount of confidence in the quality of their products from a perspective of seed safety and in-field performance, as well as how they conduct research into the technologies they bring to market.”

With this joint offering, customers will have the ability to place orders with agri-retailers and have Canterra Seeds facilitate the treatment and packaging of those requests. Depending on the needs of each customer, more than one treatment may be used, creating custom solutions for each operation.

“There are a few different products that we can apply – either as a standalone or a combination of products,” Derkatch says. “It depends on the customer’s needs.” Customers can choose Helix Vibrance or Visivio seed treatment to control seedling diseases and flea beetles, and have the option to add Fortenza to control cutworms.

A mutual benefit in forming this partnership is to build better brand awareness in a regional marketplace – one in which other companies may have already established a significant presence. The more like-minded companies are able to promote each other’s assets, the more each company in the link is able to develop familiarity with their partner’s product and greater trustworthiness in the brands being offered.

“So it’s not simply just us talking about how great our product offer is,” says Derkatch. “We can also now have Syngenta Seed Care reps vouching for us, and vice versa. We receive more touch points with retail and farmer customers, and there is also a measure of added credibility when you can be seen ‘holding hands’ with another respected company.”

Based on the success of partnerships such as these, many in the ag sector see an increasing opportunity for marketing collaborations. Derkatch recognizes the value of a trusted network of partnerships, links and relationships that foster growth.

“The world changes very quickly with new technologies and innovations, so companies must anticipate and adapt quickly,” says Derkatch. “Those with the greatest success will be the ones that can be nimble but also stay true to their core values. With the right partners, the sky’s the limit.”

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