Earlier this week I read a great blog post written by ag journalist Holly Spangler. She shared Five Things Farmers Need to Know about Consumers on the Farm Progress Prairie Farmer blog. Read her post here.
Point No. 4 resonated with me. Holly says, “We need to be less about ‘telling our story,’ and more about answering their questions. Ask people what they are concerned about and why. Then explain what you do and how you arrived at those decisions. Sometimes they’ll listen and sometimes they won’t. You can only do what you can do.”
This particular point struck me because the notion seems to go against what the ag industry is repeatedly telling farmers to do – share your story. Time and time again I see the industry encouraging farmers to tell their story.
So is this actually wrong? Should we as farmers not be telling our story to consumers? Not necessarily. I believe there’s a place for both. But I do agree that we in the ag industry have been too focused on telling our story and not so much on answering consumer questions. Yes, I do believe that many consumers would love to hear a farmer’s ag story, but they also have ag-related questions that they want answered and who better to answer than a farmer.
With all this said, I have no doubt that a farmer telling his or her story can lead to answering consumer questions. They can go hand in hand.
Social media has made it easier than ever before for farmers to share their story with the general public. But social media has also made it easier for consumers to ask questions and farmers to respond.
Going forward, in the midst of all this “telling,” let’s not lose sight of “asking” and “answering.”
What do you think? Please comment below. I love hearing from you.
I agree that farmers need to both tell their story and answer questions. What I think needs to be improved is the actual relationship strength of farmers and consumers. I don’t think that the average consumer cares to seek out what is going on in the agriculture industry. Most people know nothing about farming or the rural communities because they live in cities and have little reason to leave them. The agriculture community needs to do a better job of going to town as well as getting those in town to come to the country.
Thanks for commenting! I hear you. Farmers and consumers need to connect – it’s an ongoing challenge. There are several events currently taking place that help build this connection such as Open Farm Days and Ag in the City. But of course more can always be done.