Messages That Sell to Main Street Consumers

When non-Ag people approach you with Ag questions, think about it from their perspective.  

They’re not farmers.  They’re probably not anti-Ag zealots. They’re Main Street Consumers and they have questions.

In these cases we have an opportunity to deliver an Ag message that sells.  Start by understanding that, as my friend and branding expert, Bruce Turkel, says, it’s “All About Them.”  He’s written a book with that very title.  Bruce is right.  When you’re a consumer business — and Agriculture is — it’s all about the consumer.  

Messages That Sell to Main Street Consumers
In my experience, here are three stories that resonate with Main Street.  

The Good Old Days Weren’t 
There’s a misconception that modern Ag is somehow bad.  Folks who would never consider life without a cell phone or commuting in a Model T, long for the “good old days” of farming.  

Main Street Consumers have heard about the evils of “Industrial Agriculture.”  They wrongly believe last century was a more wholesome time for farming.  Farms were smaller, the farm wife kept a garden, and the man wore bib overalls.  There was also a red barn and chickens ran loose in the barnyard.  

These Norman Rockwell days of agriculture also saw extreme rural poverty.  Livestock handling techniques were antiquated and sometimes inhumane.  Lots of natural resources were depleted to attain exponentially smaller harvests.  Remember, the Dust Bowl, which displaced farm families for a decade as topsoil blew across the Great Plains?  Yep, those were the “good old days.”  

Food Safety 
Food is safer today in North America than ever before.  You no longer need to cook a pork chop until it’s tougher than a tennis shoe.  Why?  Because we eradicated Trichinosis. We’ve also done an amazing job of reducing or eliminating dozens of other nasty bugs that can kill you or make you ill.  

And no, it’s not because we’re pumping the livestock full of drugs.  According to the FDA, antibiotic usage in livestock has decreased by 43% since 2015.  We’re producing safer meat, milk, and eggs with way less medicine.  

Yes, we still have an occasional food scare.  But please put the media -perpetuated fear in perspective.  Blue Bell ice cream, for example, had an issue a few years ago that resulted in one death. Tragic, yes.  But one out of 327 million people (who eat three times per day) is a risk I’m willing to take.  

Variety of Offering
For all the conspiracy nonsense about our food supply being controlled by “Big Ag,” small niche food producers are thriving.

Organic food accounted for $50 billion in sales, or 5.5% of food sales in the U.S. in 2017.  

Organic is just one example.  Quinoa, gluten free offerings, micro brews, gourmet cheese, non milk milk, and have you looked at the meat counter lately?  Grass fed, cage free, Kobe beef, and turkey hotdogs…. the variety of food is spectacular.

The array of food at my hometown Kroger compared to the A&P my mom shopped at 40 years ago nearly overwhelms.  Dear consumer, eat whatever you want — Ag will supply it!

All About Them
Without Ag, there’s no food for consumers.  And without consumers, there’s no need for Ag.   We must get along.  One way to do that is to deliver our message through a story that benefits the consumer.  Start with variety, safety, and historical perspective.  Because it’s all about them.  

Damian Mason is an Agriculturist, Business Speaker, Writer, Podcaster, and Farm Owner.  Find him at www.damianmason.com 

Damian Mason