Tuning in for Harvest

September 12, 2016

As ag marketers, we spend a lot of time talking about digital media, and why not? It’s a dynamic, growing medium with limitless potential. However, with harvest season upon us, farm radio is still an effective way to reach the ag audience with timeliness and frequency.

Radio is the converse of digital. It’s the effortless, here’s-what-you-need-to-know medium that is seemingly always on in the farmer’s pickup, the combine and out in the shop. Today, with careful planning and use of the latest tools, buying farm radio has never been easier or more effective in delivering an advertising message.

Here are four key steps to take in planning and buying farm radio for maximum efficiency and effectiveness:

  1. Know your geography. Local ag radio is not digital. Know the key differences and realize the importance of geography, especially as to how it relates to your client’s distribution patterns and sales territories. Understand, for many farmers, that turning on the radio is an effective mechanism to receive ag news and information without tapping into data plans, requiring a login or worrying about a fragile glass screen.
  1. Now that you have identified a geographic target, map it with the NAFB Planner tool, and use the Heat Map feature to overlay USDA data. The heat maps provide an excellent layer to hone in on counties, states or regions that are hot spots in terms of certain crop acres or head of livestock. Generate a report to build a list of the top-rated stations and networks, based on these factors.
  1. Run three tests, and weigh each test according to client and personal preference. First, run a quantitative comparison of ratio ratings vs. cost to arrive at cost-per-point or cost-per-thousand estimates. Second, form a qualitative comparison of programming and on-air personalities that the stations or networks have to offer. Third, bring geography back into the equation. Use radio coverage maps to determine whether each station or network fits into the territory you are trying to reach. On the network side, entities like Linder Farm Network, J.L. Farmakis and Brownfield provide excellent coverage maps and county-by-county breakdowns. For single stations, radio-locator.com is a reliable and consistent source.
  1. Negotiate and finalize the buy among the top selections. Take dayparts into account and realize the difference between an ag daypart and a consumer daypart. Consider specific program placement. The most popular programs typically air within the ag daypart of 6am-2pm. Think outside the box a little. Does your client’s objective lend well to on-air interviews, or perhaps pre-recorded conversation with a key broadcaster? How can you best leverage the assets your client has access to?

Radio, as with all paid media, should never follow a rinse-and-repeat, “what we did last year” strategy. At the same time, building a successful radio plan has a few mainstay pillars, as described above. Stick to the objectives, ask the right questions and buy radio effectively.