October 03, 2017
One of the themes that came out of the NAMA 2017 Fall Conference was the importance of telling agriculture’s story. There is a great deal of contradiction and misinformation when it comes to agriculture and nutrition. This creates anxiety and fear for consumers that are trying to make educated decisions about the best possible food to put on the table for their families. In conversations with conference attendees, I learned that many are apprehensive about joining the dialog and creating that balanced narrative for consumers. I was surprised how many marketers were mindful that they should be engaging, but were hesitant about being vulnerable and opening the gateway to negative feedback.
Consumers will have dialogues, find answers and establish perceptions with or without your brand’s contribution. Entering a two-way dialogue presents an opportunity to lead the conversation, foster relationships and build that loyalty with audiences. Having a voice helps brands connect with consumers on a human level, demonstrate their brand’s values and show personality. Brands can also gain a better understanding of their customers’ point of view. These valuable insights can be leveraged in marketing messages to better resonate with audiences.
If you think your organization is ready to take the plunge, here are four considerations before you get started.
Clearly define the conversation you want to lead.
A great first step is to consider what is important to your audience and determine what your brand wants to communicate in alignment with their interests. For our client Jones Dairy Farm, their audience cares where their products come from, what is in them and how that affects their family. To demonstrate Jones’s commitment to quality, we helped them develop their latest “Check the Label” campaign. The campaign challenges consumers to investigate their products and compare the Jones label to competitors. The campaign also includes a series of videos educating consumers on how to read an ingredient label and tell if a product is clean, antibiotic free or gluten free.
It’s important that the topic and tone of your conversation aligns with the values of your organization. Authenticity and consistency are key to building an engaged audience. Your communication should reflect an honest picture of your brand and strive to be personable and relatable to your audience.
Avoid defensiveness or negativity.
Negative commentary is a reality of entering a two-way conversation. What you can control? Your response. Passion can easily slip into defensiveness (or be perceived as such) on social. Before dismissing negative commentary, take a moment to carefully listen and consider their perspective as a brand learning. In your response, ensure the customer feels listened to and use their feedback to craft a more impactful conversation. Other considerations? Know that response time matters and the initial response should be public. After you’ve addressed their comment publicly, you can consider moving to a private conversation if that makes sense.
Partner with an expert.
Engaging in a narrative can be intimidating. Lean on your agency partner’s experience to help you establish a strategy and key messages before getting started. At Stephan & Brady, we help brands identify their stories, communicate authentically and cultivate engagement. Does your brand have a great story to tell? We’d love to help you lead the conversation. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to get started.