Aileen Barron: Effective communication tools to get you through Covid-19

By Aileen Barron, Green Acre Marketing

As words such as ‘social distancing’ and ‘self-isolation’ have become more common terms in our vocabulary than we ever imagined, many are discovering new methods of communication, to ensure we are not completely isolated from each other.

Many agri-businesses have turned to various digital tools to continue to communicate effectively with their customers and this week I will discuss what the most common platforms are, and why they should be part of your digital marketing plans.

Deliver a key message

Farms are not a welcome place for salespeople or agri-advisors at present and therefore agri-businesses need to be resourceful in how they will support their customers.

Companies that had previously worked on building a GDPR-compliant email database are well positioned to issue product and service updates to customers via platforms such as Mailchimp. This email tool allows agri-businesses to incorporate their branding and deliver a key message to customers.

Already well-established social media channels are also proving effective in communicating with customers, and many agri-businesses can already be commended for offering support to farmers on platforms such as Twitter and Facebook.

Often social media platforms can have a negative effect; and by that, I mean keyboard warriors spreading negative, unkind and unhelpful messages. However, in times like the present, social media platforms can be extremely useful.

At Green Acre Marketing, we recommend for farmers to follow credible and well-informed influencers and businesses in your sector, who offer sensible and sound advice. For agri-businesses, if used correctly and by incorporating best practices, social media offers a direct line of communication to your customers.

What platforms are most popular

So, which platforms are proving the most popular with farmers?

WhatsApp is being flooded with misleading content in relation to Covid-19, so much so, that our Government has had to issue press releases to advise people to stop noting updates received via WhatsApp, and refer only to messages issued from official sources.

However, it has highlighted the power of communication that WhatsApp holds. As messages generally come from your network, they are therefore perceived as more reliable. The high volume of video content being circulated also highlights the effectiveness of video when communicating a message.

For sales teams, WhatsApp is also extremely effective for group calls, along with Skype and Zoom. All these communication tools have their own unique features so depending on your objective, that will determine which is the most appropriate to your business.

Working with my own team this week, we have found our company WhatsApp group very useful for catch up calls and using Skype as an instant messaging tool for internal housekeeping items.

With open days and events likely to be either postponed or cancelled, we strongly urge companies to look at hosting webinars. Web-based seminars are a great tool for agri-businesses to bring their key customers together to engage in an online meeting or PowerPoint presentation in real-time.

It is not limited by location challenges and the main feature of live webinars is interactivity, or the ability to discuss, send and receive information in real-time.

Again, some more advanced agri-businesses are reaching out on social media for people to not only join their webinars but to provide feedback as to when would be a good time for them to join in. One such survey strongly suggested 8:00pm.

It is also evident that farmers are relying further on online news platforms to get their news updates. To look at the more traditional marketing touchpoints, radio is also proving a popular source for updates.

‘Backbone of our society’

Irish farmers are the backbone of our society and our food supply chain. As we find ourselves in a global and national crisis, farmers and agri-business alike are a source of hope as they continue to fulfil the supply chain under one of the most sustainable models in farming.

It is heart-warming to see our farmers telling their story online for the world to see just how close our food source is to our kitchen table. Social media in the main has been a source of positivity as farmers showcase their production systems, whilst the younger members of the family are playing a crucial role in demonstrating and assisting in farm safety.

As isolation has always been a topic of conversation for Irish rural dwellers, is there a chance that farmers will discover new ways of communicating, which lessons the impact of social isolation?

Furthermore, will agri-business marketing teams realise just how close they are to communicating directly with their customers by incorporating key digital tools into their marketing strategies?

It remains to be seen, however for any assistance with utilising the many digital marketing and communication platforms, contact Green Acre Marketing on: [email protected]

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