By Sarah Pierce, Commercial VP
It’s no secret, relationships do matter, and ag companies do well to invest time in developing relationships with their customer base. However, when it comes to launching a new product, it’s unwise to only count on those established relationships to give you unbiased feedback.
Often, when launching a new product, a company might reach out to the people they know – existing customers, for instance, or friends and family who farm. But the reality is that humans have a difficult time disassociating themselves from the relationships they have with a person or a brand. Sure, they may give you a version of the truth, but to make hard business decisions that will impact the product’s long-term success, you need nothing less than the whole truth.
To receive honest feedback, it’s important to rely upon a third-party to collect it – an entity that has nothing to gain and nothing to lose by the information collected. IN10T operates as that third party, often using a hybrid approach to collect feedback and customer experience data: we conduct one-on-one conversations with key stakeholders (most often, the stakeholders are farmers) and then follow it up with the deployment of blind research surveys.
That’s because we believe sometimes it is essential to go beyond one-on-one conversations with farmers. Our goal is to quantify (e.g. put meaningful data behind) what we hear in those conversations across a broader audience and gather input in an anonymous or confidential forum.
So, what’s our approach? And what type of questions should be asked? At IN10T, we regularly tackle research with the attitude of “you don’t know what you don’t know.” Question development begins with qualitative research. To objectively evaluate the solution a product provides to farmers, we ask a few farmers from the our broad network several exploratory questions. Even this step is strategic: We work with farmers who manage different-sized operations, farmers from diverse regions of the country, and farmers who implement various field management practices.
Then, based on what we learn from this first stage of information gathering, we dig in to learn more through a quantitative approach.
Ok, we heard this from 15 farmers, so let’s validate the information by asking 300 farmers for their thoughts.
Because our farmer network is extensive, we are able to gather feedback from farmers outside an existing customer base, so you can clearly understand what prospective customers think and want. And as an added advantage, our network is comprised of early adopters who are keen to bring innovations to their operations, so getting their read at any stage in product development is particularly influential.
What’s next? We believe that truly listening to and understanding what farmers want is integral to making business decisions that will translate into sustainable commercial success. Thus, determining how they want to receive information about how your product meets their needs is indispensably important.
IN10T recently conducted a study of more than 250 farmers to better understand the psyche behind how farmers make purchases. Initial data indicates that before farmers make a buying decision, they often rely upon one of two things: influencers or data – and sometimes both.
In general, understanding how your target farmers approach their purchasing decisions allows ag businesses to structure the right trials and activities before product launch. With limited resources, it’s critical to focus on the initiatives that will gain the greatest traction. For example, perhaps you need to get your product into the hands of more farmer influencers, or maybe you need to invest more in data collection through university or third-party, on-farm field trials. But you won’t know where to make the investments toward long-term commercial success if you haven’t brought the farmers’ insights along on your innovation journey.
Bottom line, the more information you have on your target market, and the earlier you have it, the better prepared you are to make informed decisions and develop a targeted marketing strategy. Need some help from a third-party, unbiased resource? We’ve got you covered.
This is the second installment of a three-part blog series on the power of insights.
Interested in learning more? We want to hear from you!