The 7 Brutal Marketing Truths Every Rural Marketer Needs To Hear

 In Rural Marketing

The 7 Brutal Marketing Truths Every Rural Marketer Needs To Hear | Most rural marketers miss the mark with their marketing. They don’t dig deep enough and pay lip service to their market from their metropolitan-based offices. 

Here are 7 brutal truths that need to be told so your rural marketing can become the most effective, lead-generating money you ever spend: 

Brutal Truth #1: They think they are the market

Sitting in your ivory tower sipping on a latte does not match the environment of a cold Southland dairy shed.

The best way to know your market is to immerse yourself in that market. That’s when you’ll pick up the subtle nuances like a “day in the life”.

It’s less artificial and more realistic than sitting in a hotel conference room. 

Spend more time on farm or better still with your sales team. You’ll get invaluable front line intel where you can ask questions to clarify and hone your messaging and marketing strategy.

Brutal Truth #2: Outputs do no equal outcomes

Just because you have done a planning day does not mean you’ve added value.

Value needs to be attributable. That means accountability in the form of customer contact details like name, email or phone number. Or securing an appointment for your sales team.

Planning, brainstorms, away days and workshops might feel like work but don’t play office too much if you and your marketing budget want the respect of your CFO and Board. 

Brutal Truth #3: Big name agencies don’t always deliver

The number of times we have inherited a burnt and bruised agribusiness client who thought a big fancy pants ad agency would look after their very need still astounds us. 

We thought this carry on would have run out of victims once word got round. But unfortunately not.

Big agencies like big accounts to feed their standing army. Unless you are spending a minimum of $1m your agribusiness account would be better served and looked after by a smaller, independent firm or even a group of able contractors who have true skin in the game because they run a business like you do and get the commercial realities of life.

Brutal Truth #4: Just because you’re tired of it doesn’t mean your customers are 

The biggest mistake new rural marketing managers make is to change or “revitalise” their brand or marketing.

If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Optimise it as continual improvement is a good thing but DO NOT change it.

Your boredom or ADHD threshold might not match that of your customer. They might be perfectly happy with the promise your product or service has been making for 30+ years.

Subaru moved away from rally and look what good that did them. New Coke? PWC re-branding to Monday?

Stop it.

Brutal Truth #5: Quantitative research beats qualitative research

Quantitative research for the most part is a glorified tick box exercise. Response rates are low and answers shallow.

You also don’t need to speak to 0000s of participants if you actually know about the laws of statistical probability.

Qualitative research is more human-based research, remembering you are marketing to actual human beings not numbers.

With qual you can get an idea of contextual enquiry – the why behind their what. That way you get a deeper, richer response so you can better understand the reasons for their response. 

When it comes to rural marketing research use a company who recommends qualitative before quantitative.

Brutal Truth #6: Vanity metrics like reach, frequency and OTS are ok

They’re not. 

You can’t defend the undefendable.

If you want to survive in the upper echelons of corporate life you have to get a handle on the basic commercials like average margin, cost per lead, average sale amount or lifetime value. 

Most rural marketers still can’t tell the difference between net margin and net profit margin. 

My best advice before you face or front any Board: know your numbers.

Speak their language and you’ll get the respect and recognition you crave.

Brutal Truth #7: Stop your spray and pray/hit n’ hope advertising

I saved the best till last because it’s a big one.

The amount of advertising dollars I see wasted that rob their companies of the resources they need to compete against their competitors is truly upsetting.

The problem is most don’t know any better or employed ‘Debbie the junior’ because everyone else is too busy or can’t stand marketing because they’ve never been able to prove any payback. 

Paying for the front page banner on a weekly rural sales publication might be good for your brand but how do you prove that? How do you measure it? Against what control?

You cannot say with any credibility advertising works unless you test it against another medium.

You’re better than that as a true rural marketing professional with a true commercial conscience.


So there you have it dear reader. 7 brutal realities our mate Jim Collins, author of Good to Great, would be proud of.

I hope you learnt something from my list. 



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